Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Saturday

Happy Saturday everyone- hopefully I'll have a finished stitchy to show on Monday!

Friday, February 15, 2013

February Blahs and a Park Day

A letter sent to my sister today.

1)  I love Thriftbooks.com
2) We had sun today for the first time since I can remember.  NOT sun breaks, actual blue skies.  All afternoon.
3)  I ate too many cookies today.

To my sister:
Just ordered Chalice, Beauty, Rosedaughter, and Gluten-Free Girl's first book.  Less than $20.

And then went and used a $40 gift certificate that Rae gave me and ordered a sewing book and some embroidery patterns.


Spent alllllll afternoon at the park.  WOOT!  And, my cookies are really, really good.  (1 c. PB, 1 c. sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla.  Mix it all up, bake 10 minutes at 350 on a silpat.  Don't forget to smash them with a fork :)  I used my smallest scoop.  I highly suggest scooping a huge amount of my raspberry jam on top and then shoving it in your face.

We're going to survive February.  Aren't we?

Mimi saw a plane on the way to the park.
She sees a plane!!

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We spent our morning at the co-op- Mimi started a "My Gym" class today with lots of tumbling and stretching and dancing with ribbons.  Ernie started a writing workshop- lots of stories and thinking like a writer.  Ernie also takes a Science/Art class (study the diaphragm and lungs and then build a model, etc.).  We LOVE our co-op!

Home for lunch and Cocoa's nap, and I pushed the girls out the door to enjoy the sunshine.  We ended up at the park, and Daddy (home sick with a flu/cough) drove Cocoa over when he got up from his nap.  Came home for some painting time for the kids and pizza-making time for me (and nap time for Daddy.)

 I have a favorite crust for the weekly pizza night (makes a super soft, un-chewy, crust) but the last few weeks I've been using socca as my pizza.  Oh my goodness is it good- just chickpea flour and water with some olive oil and salt, cooked like a pancake in a super hot, oiled, pan.  I threw in some garlic and dried basil tonight, in honor of pizza night, but topped it with leftover chicken mushroom curry (and some cotija) from last night's dinner.  I was a happy girl tonight.  The chickpea flour was easy to get- I just ground up a bag of garbanzo beans in the grain mill.  Thank you Bobbi for the recipe!  You've saved my pizza nights :o)

The kids took baths after dinner (much to their chagrin- Friday is supposed to be pizza and movie night.  They NEEDED baths.)

I finally snapped a picture of a sleeping Cocoa this week.  The girls go to bed around 8, but he doesn't get ready for bed till 9 or so.  In the past month, his crib has gotten pretty full- there's the soft baby blanket from Nana, and then the enormous duck he likes to sleep on from Nana Great.  The hot rice bag on his feet, and a little soft blanket square in his hand from Mama Papaya, and his stinky frog (a Scentsy Buddy) from Nana Great in his other.  Then two star-casting light up animals, one from Santa and the other from Uncle Bear.  THEN you kiss his nose goodnight and leave.  He loves it in there.  I wish he'd STAY in there at night, but I'm glad bed time (and nap time) is so easy!

Coren, all snugled in for bed

Monday, February 11, 2013

Liebster Award

J. over at Cygnus Opus tagged me on her Liebster Award.  (A way to recognize tiny blogs.  Like this one.  Hooray for teeny!)  I'm not going to tag anybody, but if you want to join in, go for it!

I need to list 11 facts about me, and then answer her list of questions.  I'm not sure I can find 11 things you don't already know!

12/12, Grand Canyon
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Eleven Facts about Myrnie:

  1. I'm a twin, and my sisters call me Myrnie.
  2. My hands fit inside of a Pringles can.  You should see the size of my wedding ring, it's tiny.
  3. My husband and I got engaged after dating three months (too short! people said), and were married 6 months after that (too long! people said.)
  4. I was married a few weeks after my 22nd birthday, and Ernie was born 18 months later.
  5. Two summers after high school, our college choir trip to Vienna was canceled after 9/11.  My sister and I used our ticket money for that and bought two tickets for a brand new cruise ship that was sailing from Dover to Barcelona.  I booked plane tickets to London, and then found a man with a van whose business it was to pick folks up in London and drive them to the docks in Dover.  (Turns out he also owned a bed and breakfast.)  We saw France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, etc.  and booked a few extra days at a hotel in Barcelona at the end and then flew back to Seattle.  At the time it was amazing, and now it's just incredible.  I can't believe we did that!
  6. I started college when I was 16- our area has a program that allows high school students to complete their high school requirements at the local community college and pays the tuition.  We actually got our Associates Degree a week before our high school diplomas.  
  7. I earned my Bachelors at the University of Washington- business, with an emphasis in accounting.  I also minored in music.
  8. I've been teaching piano since I was 17.  I also worked as a house cleaner and babysitter for a family in high school, and spent a few weeks in the summer helping out at a bakery while all their workers were at camp.
  9. I love cooking food from all around the world.  I love good food, but am too cheap to buy really great food.  So, I have to make it myself!  
  10. My favorite thing about having these three kids of ours is seeing how insanely talented each child is, in their own way.  I'm convinced that every child is a genius, if we can focus long enough to find out who they are.  
  11. I love to create things.  I love to paint, write, draw, cook, dance, sing, play piano and organ, and make jewelry.  I'm not extremely talented or trained, but I believe we all have a need to create.
M in a window

Hello Cocoa, you smooshy ball of love.  We took this self-portrait about 6:00 a.m. on a family trip to the lake.  No one else was up yet so we went on the deck to watch the sun come up.
Early morning cuddles





1. Tell me about one of your most embarrassing moment that you wouldn't mind sharing.
You know, I can't think of any!  I get embarrassed a lot, because I tend to say excessively dumb things whenever I go out in public, but there's not really any great stories.  Just me doing dumb stuff, like being invited to a baby shower at Ichiro's home (yeah, the baseball player, his wife is a sweetheart) and then refusing to take home the flowers she offered because I didn't understand that they were for me.  And then I told her I couldn't eat her sushi, because I was pregnant.  Like THAT isn't offensive to a gourmet Japanese cook.  Oh, and mistaking the high-end boutique she bought my gift at for a consignment shop.  See?  I'm a recluse for my own safety.  

2. Name someone you admire that is still alive.

So many people!  This isn't a fair question, because most of the people I admire are reading this *right now.*  (Hi family!)  Let's see.  Is Corrie Tenboom still alive?  

3. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

Woah.  Paris, for sight seeing.  Disney World for the Epcot Center.  Wales for the country side.  Italy, for sitting around and eating gelato.  Japan, for just eating.  Chicago and Washington D.C. for the museums.  Somewhere sunny, just for sun.

4. If you could travel in time where or rather when would you go?

Oh boy.  I'm not sure- I feel so insanely blessed to be alive right now, I'm not sure there's a time I'd rather be in.  We have so many freedoms, and such incredible knowledge about the world just at our finger tips.  

5. What do you most wish for the future generations?

I wish they could remember that there IS value in doing things simply and the "old-fashioned" way.  The more we learn, the more we find out that maybe grandma was right even if she didn't know why.  Highly mechanized and efficient isn't the best way for the human race to be.  

6. Name something you would fix in the country you live in?

The way the economy and benefits are handled.  Stop handing out more money than we have, and figure out a way to give government help ONLY to those who really need it.  Teach people to be self-reliant, and stop punishing people who are successful at what they do.  Stop making knee-jerk-reaction legislation every time something horrible happens, because it doesn't stop the next horrible thing from happening, it only makes life harder for people who try to do the right thing.  (HELLO SARBANES-OXLEY, I DESPISE YOU.)  

7. If you could be a teacher/professor, what would you teach?

HA!  I already teach piano, sunday school, and second grade.  I guess I'd like to have some sort of class where I could just brain dump everything I've learned over the years about cooking, childhood development, and how to make stuff myself.  Is that narcissistic?   I've spent so much time studying, and it seems like I could save people some time if I just got it all compiled into something usable   Like that book I keep starting and stopping.

8. What hymn means the most to you?

Oh My Father.  I love the words, and I was able to perform a solo section in a CES broadcast when I was in college.  President Eyring spoke, and our Seattle UW Institute choir combined with the University of Idaho choir to sing at the monthly broadcast.  It was filmed at the U of I, in the Kibbey Dome- I also helped accompany a four-handed choir piece written just for the occasion (a mash-up of Army of Helaman and As Sisters in Zion.)  I have a copy of the video, but it's not in the online archives because it wasn't broadcast from BYU and for some reason that made a difference?  

9. What's your favorite flower?

Anything in bloom?  Let's see, I love fuscias because Grandma grew them.  I love hellebores because they bloom in January.  I love daffodils and quince because they bloom in February.  I love wild roses because they taste good.  I love nasturtium for the same reason, and they're SO COLORFUL.  I love trillium because finding them feels like finding a fairy hideout.  I love tulips because they smell like tomatoes, and I think it's funny to see them grow so tall in their vases of water.  I love peonies because they're huge and showy and don't care who knows it.  I love rhododendrons because they are EVERYWHERE in Seattle- there's not many yards that don't include a few of those old standbys.  

10. What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?  I don't remember having a favorite.  We liked Jem, because it seemed so grownup and cool and glamorous.  Looking back, it was probably completely inappropriate for 6-year-olds.  

11. If you were at Baskin Robbin's what flavor of ice cream would you choose?  I really, really, love vanilla ice cream.  Lately we've been choosing frozen yogurt, so I can get popping boba on top.  Om nom.  


Myrnie on the left, two weeks before Ernie was born.  That's a skinny and in-love Aunt LoLo on the right.  She's two weeks from getting engaged- poor thing!  He wouldn't propose until after the baby was born, just to make sure she wouldn't get called away for the birth while he was trying to get the question out.  

The twins weeks before delivery

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day In the Life: Cocoa's Birthday

12:30 am Up and at 'em, Mom!  Cocoa here. I have a cold and a sore throat and a full diaper and woke up yesterday with a 102 fever, and heck- let's go watch cartoons and drink OJ.  Yeah, now.  No, I won't be soothed.  I will writhe and kick and head butt you because I half crazy with this aching pain in my throat.  UP and at 'em!

3:30 am Text my husband to tell him of my good fortune.  OJ and Curious George, all night baby!  Bless you, Netflix, and your "continuous play" option.

4:00 am Cocoa is asleep and I put him in his crib and go lay down.

4:30 am Cocoa is up again and comes to bed with me.  We sleep.  HALLELUJAH.

9:00 am We wake up.  Man, am I glad I canceled all my early morning piano lessons this week until the crud is gone.  (That's a technical term, by the way.  We get flu season, and then we get the crud.  Not really sick, but not totally well either.  Nasty coughs, grumpy faces, gooey noses.)  Go tell the girls their cartoon time is over, time to have breakfast and clean up the playroom.

9:30 am Send Ernie to get ready for a shower.  Change Cocoa's dirty diaper.

10:00 am Tired of waiting for her (she's making her bed) I take my shower.

10:30 am Ernie is now tucking teddy bears into bed.  I remind her that she needs a shower this morning.  I find Cocoa with a pen and Ernie's binder of "most prized print out coloring pages from Pinterest."  I substitute a page of scrap paper for him and start cleaning the kitchen.  I've been on the couch for 5 days, either sick or just too exhausted to get up for more than a little bit.  I'm finally feeling better, and it's time to catch up!  New diaper for Cocoa, and give him a piece of chalk for the easel.  He draws swirls and excitedly turns and shrieks "FROWAH!"  Obviously, my Monet is drawing a flower garden.  Little genius.

11:00 am Make a birthday cake with the kids- yes, I use boxed cake mixes.  It was a choice between cooking with my kids or banning them from the kitchen, and I had to choose kid time.  (Because I don't have the attention span necessary to follow a 15-ingredient recipe AND keep track of whose turn it is to stir, dump, pour, measure, mix.....eep.)

11:30 am Run around the upstairs with a garbage bag and a clothes hamper.  There are a LOT of used tissues around here.  GROSS.  Socks, too.  Why do kids leave their socks in every room of the house?

12:00  Serve the kids homemade apple sauce to start their lunch off- they all had seconds on Sunday, I know they'll like this.  I thawed out more just because they liked it so much.  I puree it so it's extra smooth, the only way they'll eat it.

12:30 They are having sword fights with their spoons and won't touch the applesauce.  I give them bread and jam for the 156th meal in a row and give them the mother's curse: Someday may you have children who don't appreciate good food, and eat nothing but bread.  And then you can try to explain to them why they can't poop.

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recipe and magazine

1:00 Send kids downstairs to clean up the play room, and I sit at the computer for a few minutes and start blogging.  (Did we just go meta?)  E-mail back and forth with my husband a few times on his lunch break, and make sure I tell him I love him a few hundred times.  Because Mama is coming off a week of flu and PMS and...yeah.  Needs to make sure people know she's back.  He wants a haircut, but not a haircut.  The only haircut I know how to cut is Missionary.  You know, the kind of haircut that's 1 inch long.  (You wondered why all the guy LDS missionaries look alike?  Yeah, there are rules for personal grooming!)

playset in the rain

2:00 Get all the kids ready to go- I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor to go over some blood work and Cocoa gets his two-year check up today.  Shoes and coats on everybody, realize that I can't fit any shoes over Cocoa's outfit of choice (red footy pajamas) so I run upstairs and dig through the clean laundry hamper to find a fresh outfit for him.  (Have I mentioned that the hubby does all the laundry now, and I take care of sorting/folding/putting away?  It had to happen- I never, ever, remember to cart the dirty laundry to the basement and get it started!  It was either start washing stuff, or buy everyone new underwear.  Thanks for picking up my slack, hon, we make a great team ;)

2:30-3:30 The appointment actually goes really well!  When one kid spills a glass of water on the table in the foyer, one of the gals from the desk pops out with a huge terry cloth towel.  When Mimi starts exclaiming that the table is sticky (because there is maple syrup on her doll, and MOM the table is only sticky to toys that's why it doesn't feel sticky, and NO my doll wasn't sticky yesterday!) the same gal comes out with a lysol wipe.  Basically, I love the staff there.  All two of them.  And our doctor.  Everything looks good, I'm from Seattle and am low in Vitamin D, and the kids all get suckers on the way out the door.  Happy campers!

3:30 Since we're in town, we head over to our nearest Asian market.  I load up on rice cakes for dok bokki, tiny baby bok choi, ground flax seed, panda crackers for the kids, and sweet potatoes to roast and snack on for me and Cocoa.  (Everybody else thinks they're a punishment- I can't keep Cocoa's little grabby fingers off them!)  Cocoa falls asleep on the way home.

pantry

4:20 Home!  Ernie eagerly offers to carry ALL the groceries upstairs for me (the better to get to their panda crackers!)  and I cart Cocoa off to bed.  It's a late nap, but he's so crazy in sleep schedule right now it's not even funny.  He took three naps yesterday, all in my lap.  I've had this flu, it's not fun, and I'm just going to let him sleep when and where he wants!  I pull some raspberry jam out of the freezer to fill the birthday cake with and settle down with a mug of our homemade applesauce.  And holy heck, it's awful stuff.  No wonder the kids wouldn't eat it- we've found the remains of that one batch I triple-cinnamoned on accident.  Ouch.  It's beyond spicy and into just plain punishing.  Maybe it will clear up the rest of my congestion.

4:45 Girls are done with their snack, and I send them downstairs to clean up their playroom.  Actually DO it this time.  Ernie really wants to help decorate Cocoa's cake, but the playroom needs to be cleaned up first and I can't wait forever.  Hopefully that will help her focus just a bit- I tell her that I'm going to make dinner in about 20 minutes, and I will decorate the cake after dinner.  So, if her toys are put away before dinner, she can definitely help me!

4:56 Cocoa is awake.  DARN IT.  He sure doesn't sound happy.  Maybe he's just looking forward to his Panda crackers.  I DID promise him he could have them after I bought them.

5:03 He was excited about the crackers until I put one in his hand.  No problem, he's strapped into his high chair.  I walk away.  It's the only way he'll ever really eat: ALONE.  I'm in the next room, listening to crunchings and crinklings and happy mmmm'ings.

5:10 I go help the girls go a little faster in their clean up downstairs.  Looking pretty good!

bok choi and rick sticks

5:30  I leave the kids downstairs and go start dinner- rick sticks and steamed bok choi.  Not terribly filling or nutritious, but hopefully something everyone will happily eat.  Most of us aren't too hungry- I've been staying pretty full on just a small juice glass of almond milk for breakfast, another for lunch, and a few bites of dinner.  Most miserable diet ever, being too sick and tired to be hungry! I boil the rice sticks for a few minutes, and then try a new way of cooking them.  Normally I take these smooshy rice bites (think something like gnocchi, but chewy and stretchy) and toss them in a pan with some oil to crisp them up a bit.  They stick and make a terrible mess- today I rinse off all the starch I can, toss them in oil, and then put them under the broiler on a foil-lined pan.  The recipe I found said to broil them 5 minutes till they're golden brown.  I go ten minutes, and they're looking wrinkly.  Switch to bake at 450 for another 5 or 10 minutes and they're just drying out and still completely white.  Then I spend 20 minutes peeling them from the foil, and then peeling the foil from the rice sticks.  Technique fail!  I frost the cake while I'm waiting for everything to cook, and fill the center with my raspberry jam.  I should put the cake in the fridge, since the jam is thickened with gelatin and doesn't stand up to room temperature without going runny, but I put it on the cake stand and now it won't fit.

6:15  Call the kids to dinner.  THEY LOVE THE RICE STICKS.  Hallelujah.  Ernie even likes the bok choi.  Mimi bravely tries a bite, so kudos for her.

6:45 I pull the girls into the kitchen to decorate the birthday cake- lots of chocolate candies and sprinkles, check!  It looks amazing!  Daddy gets home from work and gets himself kiss from me and a plate of dinner from the pot while I'm supervising in the kitchen.

decorating the cake

7:00 Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Bear, and Aunt Bert arrive for the birthday party.  Cocoa loves opening his presents.  His cake dripped and oozed red rasberry jam (very festive with the blue icing and vanilla ice cream).  Nana and Grandpa called from Utah to Facetime him a very happy birthday.  What a great night to be two!

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oozing birthday cake

8:30 Everyone has gone home, kitchen is just about cleaned (THANK YOU GRANDMA!!) we read scriptures with the kids and help them say their prayers and brush their teeth.  Rice bags get warmed up, and girls are tucked into bed with hot rice bags and cold cups of water.

9:00 Cocoa figures now is a good time to watch more cartoons.

9:30 Cocoa falls asleep, and then wakes up wailing when I put him in his crib.  He sits with Daddy until Daddy falls asleep.

10:15 Here's me and Cocoa, blogging.  And watching Curious George.  And both wanting to be asleep, I'm sure of it.  Man alive, I'm feeling better today but I still don't have enough energy to be taking care of a two-year-old with The Crud at 10:15 PM.  (He's not normally like this- bed time for him is normally around 8:30 or 9:00.  And it's easy.  He rubs his eyes, we heat up his rice bag, and stick him in bed.  The end.)

10:30 Give up on being the Nice Mom on Cocoa's birthday, and call in Tough Love.  Which is what he needs.  Give him his Advil, put him in his crib with a warm rice bag and his fuzzy blankets, leave the hall light on to keep him company, and go finish cleaning the kitchen.  And use the bathroom for as long as I want without company.  And listen to Cocoa play, sing, whimper half heartedly, and finally go silent.

11:00 PM Finish up the last few dishes, wake Daddy up and send us to bed.  

The Gluten Series: Part 1


I've started and stopped this post a couple of times.  Right now it's called "The Post That's Hard to Write."

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First off, I don't want to be laughed at.  Because doing things that are different, while socially applauded in the general sense (Be Unique!  Be yourself!) is not...really...OK... when you're talking to someone face to face.

Second, I will have to admit that I have had health issues for a very long time.  And I really don't want to be a person with health issues.

Third, it's just so darn CLICHE!  It's the "it" thing, just a rung in a hierarchy of food snobs.  And who wants to be a snob?

But fourth, what's happened to me is so life-changing that I have to believe this might help someone else.

Hi, I'm Myrnie, and I've been depressed for a very, very long time.

I won't describe it for you, because it's not pretty, but there it is.

Anyway, it was really bad in high school, and then kind of manageable for a long time.  Meeting my husband changed my life for so many years- he made me so happy.  His pragmatic, level-headed, unchanging approach to life is amazing.  But, after our third child was born, things were kind of hard.  No different than when the second came, really.

Then when my menstrual cycle started again when the baby was nine months old (that's 18 months without a cycle, everybody) I simply could not handle it.  The hormone swings.  Oh my gosh, the swings.  The days I would yell at my kids, and I NEVER yelled at my kids until now.  I'm serious.  The feeling of just being so tired.  My husband would ask me in concern "What is wrong?"  All I could say was that I was just tired.  Tired of trying so hard to be good, and tired of failing every day.  Tired of hating myself.  I just couldn't get this right, I was so tired of failing.  My body was tired.  I haven't slept properly in about 8 years.  I would pray at night to my Heavenly Father "Please forgive me for losing my temper again, and please help me be nicer!"

Failing every day at something I wanted so badly made my self-esteem plummet.  What kind of person can't even keep herself from yelling at three beautiful children?  I've been doing Zumba once a week with my sister, and gained 5 pounds in the process.  My belly looks 5 months pregnant. It seemed like I was giving all I had to give, and just didn't have enough in me.  Whatever I had simply wasn't enough, so I must be just not trying hard enough, and the thought of trying harder was crushing.

Finally, one day at church, I realized I had to get help.  I was missing something- I didn't know what it was, or how to get it, but there was something I needed.  I wasn't worth helping, because apparently I was too stupid to get it right, but the kids deserved better.  Knowing that the only options (I could think of) were hormone therapy and counseling was pretty depressing.  I don't trust hormone therapy (hormonal birth control scares the bejeebies out of me) and having a counselor give me exercises to learn how to try harder to be happy.....oh man.  I just was so tired.  But I texted my husband, who was home with a sick kid, and he was ecstatic.  He'd been praying for three months that I would figure out I needed help.  HE didn't want to be the one to tell me, because who wants to be told they're broken?

I was fairly certain my doctor would go the anti-depressant/counseling route.  I've worked with her for 15 years, I know what she offers.  If I had a pain, she prescribed a numbing cream.  If I wanted birth control, she prescribed hormone patches.  I adore her, but I didn't want those things unless they were a last resort.  Plus, she's on a six-month sabbatical.

  I knew an acquaintance had a medical practice nearby, and she's trained in western-style medicine AND stays up to date on "Functional Medicine."  She's more likely to prescribe vitamins and apples than something from the pharmacy.  Plus, she's actually in town.  I made an appointment with her the next day.

I went to my appointment nervous- I look fine to most people.  I didn't want to try and convince her that I really DID need help.  But she listened to me, listened to my problems, and said "Alright, cut gluten out of your diet."

Ummm...what?  "Oh, and you probably have a B12 deficiency, and a D deficiency, and add at least 3 Tbsp of plant fat like avocados and coconut and nuts to your diet every day.  Try to cut out dairy, too."  She went on about a methylation process, sent me home with some monster vitamins, and set up an appointment for a blood draw to check my levels.  (I've been researching all this since then, and NOW it makes total sense.  It didn't that day.)

That night, I told my husband my face felt funny.  It felt goofy.  "Well, what does it feel like?" he asked.  "It feels like smiling!"  So I did.  For the first time in years, I had hope.

Going off gluten has changed everything.  I'm not losing my temper.  I'm not listless and tired.  My brain isn't foggy.  I'm not anxious and jittery.  When I don't get enough sleep, I'm just tired.  That's all.  I'm calm and totally in control of myself.  I'm wrestling with the kids, keeping the kitchen clean, and singing while I sweep.  When I lose my temper, it's not like my mind is snapping, it's just...I got upset.  I'm hopeful.  I also lost two pounds the first week.

The test results will come back, and we'll see what they say about my vitamin and minerals etc.  My sister offered me a piece of pie last night, and then clapped her hand over her mouth and gave me a stricken look.  "I'm so sorry!  I forgot!"  Babe, I truly don't care.  If it's a choice between eating that pie, and feeling awesome?  I'll take awesome.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Things I Love: Rory's Story Cubes

My kids has always loathed writing.  First, it was forming the letters.  Then, the spelling.  Then, putting together paragraphs, stories, persuasive arguments...pretty much everything.  Word smithing, not her thing.

I found this game I thought the kids would like, and might help her learn to put together stories- Rory's Story Cubes.  

Rory's Story Cubes

They are less than $8 on Amazon, and are eligible for free Prime shipping.  SCORE.

It's 9 plastic dice, each with different pictures on each side.  54 pictures in all, over 10,000,000 possible combinations when you roll all nine.

Once you roll them, you use the pictures to make a story.  Easy peasy!  My girls picked it up, and took turns using all nine cubes before passing them to the next gal.  

My family (me, my mom, my sister, her husband, HIS mother, my other sister, and I) sat around playing it on a Sunday evening.  A few notable things:
1)  My family NEVER plays games.  Ever.
2)  My sister's mother-in-law doesn't speak English.
3) My mom is a writer.  You WANT to play this game with her, she's fabulous.
4)  My contribution to the stories generally involved a giant stomping everything flat, or everyone disappearing down a dark hole.  My fellow word-smiths didn't think it was very easy to pick up where I left it off.  Ha.  

With her son translating our stories to her, and her part of the story to us, we rolled the dice and took turns each adding one cube to the story.  

We love this game, even *I* love this game and I don't like playing games.  There's no score, there's no competing (except for laughs) and there's no set time.  Game Wright, the folks who created this (and there are others out there, but this is what we bought) have other sets of dice you can add to this.  One has verbs, and another is just nouns.  We were scheming last night to get another set or two and have a MONSTER STORY CRAFTING event at our family reunion this summer.  

Disclaimer: Just my opinions.  Ain't nobody asking me to say this stuff.