An Explosion Of Reading

I don’t like cleaning up after other people, read my family, however that is one of my many jobs as a stay at home dad. Before you click away, this is not a post about bitching about anything, especially cleaning. This is a post about reading. Yes reading.

While cleaning up I have picked up six books and I know when I go back to cleaning I will find more. We are a family of readers. We did not used to be a family a readers, we used to be parents of children who did not want to read. Those were sad times.

Barb reads one book at a time, I read several books at a time. The point, being both of us read and have read around the children all of their lives. Part of their bedtime routine used to be Barb reading to them Harry Potter and more. Lots of reading. I believe reading is important for everyone for every facet of life. Reading has so many benefits.

The children wanted nothing to do with books or reading beyond what was required of them-school or rules for a game on a card put in front of them necessary for play-see really specific.

Then something happened. I have no clue what or exactly when; one day no reading and no desire to read then BAM books everywhere. Maybe not that fast, but one day our boy who hated reading wanted to play Warhammer 40k and read the rules. The rules lead to a codex, then another codex, then another codex, and then books.

Our girl began reading before him, she picked up a book and ran with it. Awesome we had lots of books for her to read and at her pace we thought we had plenty of time before we needed to get more. DONE! Her pace went up dramatically, along with her retention and comprehension.

Her reading got him reading more. Then his reading upped her game and her upped game, upped his game. The bonus, a lot of changes around the house:

The television died, sure they still watch something from time to time, but the days of coming home and plopping down in front of the TV are over…for now.

Conversations are deeper, richer, more frequent, and not about whatever toy they want.

As a family we have three main vices: game stores, bookstores, and craft stores. The kids did not like book or craft stores. Now, and this just happened, birthday trips (a tradition of ours, the birthday person gets to go wherever they want within reason) are to bookstores.

Instead of no books or one book bought grudgingly, a stack of books for each child. Books are one thing we do not mind spending money on. We are rethinking that a tiny bit. 🙂 For her birthday, our girl left the bookstore with three books, she wanted the remaining nine in the series.

Faces in books, great conversations, books for us to read (read one of your kid’s books just so you can carry on a conversation), and more family activities, doesn’t get much better than that.


Open Driveway Events

A snow day is not a good day for writing. I know it sounds like it should be, but the kids are unexpectedly home which means they are “bored” all of the time. See where this is going? So while I wait for them to go back to school and you wait for Puddles and Whiskers or Chuck’s Tail, I present to you more edited Facebook (I post one of these a day except on weekends) fun, Open Driveway Events are fictitious business based on the reality of where we live. Enjoy. 🙂


Swim, Ski, and Skate in one day at Open Driveway Events Three S Day. Thanks to Michigan’s fickle relationship with Mother Nature you, the customer, benefits from her capricious nature.

Show up early, bring a swim suit, skis, and skates. From open until 2 PM swim your heart out and your limbs off in one of our numerous swimming holes. Ranging in size from sitting pond to a lap around the U we have swimming opportunities for everyone. No running or diving though.

After 2 PM, if Mother Nature has her way, put on your skis and cross country ski over almost two acres of some of the most varied landscape you have seen. Small hills, small valleys, one steep hill, and tons of gopher trails will keep you guessing.

Nightfall, strap on your skates and take a spin on one of the frozen ponds, formerly swimming holes. Due to expansion, the frozen ponds will be one  sheet of ice stretch across the front forty of Open Driveway Events.

As a bonus, the snow is supposed to be heavy, so why not craft a snow sculpture to commemorate your day here.

Open Driveway Events is not responsible or liable for injuries incurred while swimming, skiing, or skating. For a small fee access to a towel, for a larger small fee access to bento lunch or bento dinner.


On this wet, rainy day, where the rain seems never ending and the puddles are turning into ponds and soon into lakes Open Driveway Events is pleased to announce our 1st Annual Noah’s Ark Furry Two-By-Two Mixer and BBQ.

Show up alone or with another animal, walk the plank (hmmm…) make that walk up the plank where other furries await. Mix, mingle, co-mingle, and eat BBQ while riding out the rain. Unlike the ark, we are not limiting our boat’s capacity to two of each animal, as many as can fit and on almost two acres that is a lot of fur-ry space.

When the rain finally abates feel free to run, romp, and play in the new land…still wet and probably very puddly land with the furry friends you bonded with during the storm or over BBQ. Yes, that’s right because I am cooking and grilling there will be BBQ. Is BBQ and fur a good mix, probably not, but then again I’m just the captain of the ark and the cook for all who show up, in other words cleaning is another associates problem.

Finally, at the end of the night provided the clouds have cleared pick a spot of ground (still wet) and stare at the stars.

Open Driveway Events is not liable or responsible for damage to furry outfits. Please be responsible when eating BBQ.


Welcome back.

After a weekend recharging the batteries, Open Driveway Events is happy to announce first of what we hope are many BBQ Star Viewing Events.

The great thing about our location, other than all of the dogs (great if you are a dog lover), is the relatively remote location, almost two acres of land, and very low amount of light pollution. What does that mean for you?

It means, if you like looking up, and who doesn’t, you can on a clear sky night see stars. Lots of stars. Stand just about anywhere on our almost two acres and stare up at the wonder of the night sky and ponder how in the hell this planet can really be the be all end all a lot of people think it is.

And if pondering and staring isn’t enough for you, enjoy some BBQ off our currently small grill. We have a very good cook, he reads a lot of cooking books and cooks a lot, and he is gearing up for a long and productive season of grilling and woking on the grill.

Come on out stare at the sky while cramming your pie hole full of delicious hot off the grill BBQ.

No disclaimers other than the usual, not liable for injury due to gopher holes, interactions with motor vehicles, falling objects, and burns from food.

Miniature Painting As A Family Bonding Experience

As much as I have compared painting to writing, I have not painted in over a year, if not longer. I remember painting miniatures fondly and not so fondly. Painting a miniature is fun and relaxing, even when the brush refuses to cooperate. Painting an army is a pain the ass, akin to a job you like but don’t like; I like painting, but I do not like feeling like a factory worker churning out piece after piece. Yet, when the army hits the table the factory work makes me smile. Even if all I did was spray paint all of them black and hand paint anarchy symbols on every figure and vehicle.

space-marineTwo or three Christmas’s ago, our boy expressed an interest in playing Warhammer 40k. He really liked the look of the Tyranids. Wanting to get him into a different type of game, one that has a hobby aspect, and one I am familiar with we purchased him a starter box.

Unfortunately, that was the wrong time. He did not want to learn how to assemble the miniatures, he did not want to read the rules, he just did not want to do anything. We tried a few small games and while he was excited with his non-knowledge of the rules, especially his troops he could not play.

How times have changed. He pestered me to pull out the miniatures and play. I said, read the rules. He has been reading the rules non-stop, even taking a rulebook with him on a car trip. I made a deal with him, read the rules and we can start playing.

Then, Tanks came along. Our girl loves (LOVES) Tanks. She gets me in a game often, has read the rules, and gets excited when I tell her a tank she is interested in can be ordered and more excited when that tank arrives. I wanted to paint the tanks because the plastic color of the German pieces (a weird yellow-green) bugged me. So I painted the tanks. Then I painted some more tanks. Then I wanted to paint more.

The kids watching me paint wanted to learn how to paint. I pulled out the much HATED Robotech RPG Tactics figures. The game sucks, but the miniatures would get put to good use, practice figures. Due to my stand against giving the game any kind of positive press, their first figures will get be shown. However, from practice figures they have moved onto figures they are actually interested in.

paintingOur boy works on his Tyranid army,  a squad of genestealers. I work on a squad of space marines. Our girl is painting a dragon. Barb joined into to paint a frog and spider. As a family we sit around the table painting, teaching, and best of all communicating and bonding. Soon the figures, most of them, will hit the table to wage war on one another. And more figures will get painted.

Writing and painting have a lot in common, the one difference they have that I enjoy, is painting has become a family activity. 🙂

Games We Played: Simon’s Cat & Star Wars Destiny

Welcome back games, oh how we have missed you.

Do not ask me why games disappeared for so long, but they did and try as we might it took until this weekend to play some games. This weekend saw two new games, Simon’s Cat and Star Wars Destiny along with us trying to finally wrap up Wrath of the Righteous.

Wrath was disastrous. I do not like the army cards in Wrath. An army card affects all players; each player must choose a check for their character from a list and unless something is listed twice, each check can only be chosen once. Further, the list of checks rarely seems to be in the advantage of the skills of the players. Suffice to say, the army cards hit us hard and kept hitting us hard all the way to the end where we had given up 10 turns earlier. Nothing worse, gaming wise, than when the table of players quits before the game ends. 😦

Onto the new games…

Simon’s Cat

simons-catDo you like cats? Do you like cutesy art of cats, dogs, and other thing? Do you like variations on Uno? If you answered yes to all three then you will love Simon’s Cat. Upfront, I know nothing about Simon Tofield and his Simon’s Cat YouTube series. I know games. I also know that our daughter loves games with cats and that is how we ended up with Simon’s Cat.

Match the number or color of the top card of a stack. That is all there is to Simon’s Cat by Steve Jackson Games. If you cannot make a match you get the stack, called a mess in front of you. The player with the most messes at the end of the game gets a Simon card. The player with the most Simon Cards after a few rounds is the loser. Our children 8 and 11 were bored and done with Simon’s Cat after 1 round. The match mechanic and nothing else to spice up play wore out its welcome real quick.

Star Wars Destiny

star-wars-destinyStar Wars, oversized illustrated dice, and cards with Star Wars imagery what more could a person ask for? A game that plays as well as it looks. And Star Wars Destiny by Fantasy Flight games is a good game. Unfortunately and this is no fault of Fantasy Flight Games, the demand is high enough that around here I could only find one of each starter deck. Online prices are appalling and look to stay that way long enough to be problematic. That aside…

Using the two starters (individually around 15 each), players take turns rolling dice, playing cards, and resolving the effects until one player is out of characters or out of cards.

Play starts with two characters and their associated dice, one location (one of which will be discarded before play), a deck of 30 cards (knock against the starters as they only come with 20 cards), and a pile of counters (shields, damage, and resources). Character cards come with the amount of damage they can suffer before being knocked out, an illustration of the sides of the dice rolled, and an ability. Dice are oversized with illustrations matching those on the cards. Each side is a symbol and a number or blank. Symbols and numbers rolled determine potential actions or damage done/prevented.

A round begins with straightening cards, putting dice on the cards, gathering two resource tokens, and drawing up to 5 cards. Then each player takes an action, such as rolling the dice on a character putting those dice into the pool of available dice, playing a card, or using the results on the dice for other actions such as dealing damage. Players take actions until both players pass consecutively, then a new round occurs.

If we can find more Star Wars Destiny there will be more written about it, as we really enjoyed our games. Even though the starter decks are shy 10 cards of a full deck, there are options for play style and I can see how with some additional cards and dice it could be a very fun game to play regularly.

Two Popcorn Bucket Girl

I am fortunate enough to have seen every single Star Wars film in a theatre. Yes, I am old enough to have seen the original Star Wars (episode 4) in a theatre with my grandmother who fell asleep right when C-3PO fell into the wires and A2-D2 used his handy-dandy onboard extinguisher to put out the electrical fire.

I am a Star Wars fan and I have tried to instill that or a similar fandom into our children. While they are not old enough to have seen every movie in a theatre, they have seen Episode VII and Rogue One. Before those films, watching Clone Wars while it was on TV and again, on DVD and BluRay. While we had the correct channel (thank you cable providers) we watched Rebels, now we watch whole seasons when released.

Over the years (decades) I have amassed many questions, especially when Episodes 1 thru 3 were released. And like any good Star Wars fan I had my theories and engaged in lively conversation and debate over my questions and others. And as a Star Wars fan I was okay with not having answers to all of my questions, because if I am being honest, the one answer provided during Episode 1, metacholorians, was highly unsatisfying even if delivered by Liam Neesson.

The Star Wars fan, the movie fan, the child, and the adult in me are extremely happy.

I made a promise to take the children to see Rogue One. Just about everything, until today, has conspired to make a liar out of me. We even made plans to pull the kids out of school to go see the movie (yes in this case Star Wars is more important than a day of education) and you know what happened? Want to guess?

If you said, one of the worst snow-ice storms of the season, you would be correct.

But today, I fulfilled that promise. We took off without much warning to the theatre where thankfully there were very few people to potentially screw up the moment. I want to thank, with much sarcasm, Lego and Lego Magazine for ruining some of the surprise for my boy. He knew due to the kits produced and from stuff in the magazine some of the story line, characters, and other moments that had the rest of us saying…


Still, he left like we did; wide-eyed, talking up a storm about what we witnessed, and experiencing a boatload of feels. Rogue One…sorry there will be no spoilers, I know that people can find reviews, full plot lines, and everything else out there…but I will remain silent for those few, who haven’t seen the movie…in my opinion is better than The Force Awakens. I left the theatre with the same emotional high Saving Private Ryan gave me, it was draining, overwhelming, worthy of long talks, and some deep thoughts.

A non-movie, but movie experience that went better for me this time than Force Awakens, I did not get pummeled in the ribs by a tiny fist seeking popcorn. We walked into the movie with a large tub of popcorn and ten minutes to go. A minute to start and Barb and I realize our girl has eaten a quarter of the bucket. Second bucket is necessary for the rest of us. And by movie’s end she was complaining of a sore tummy…of course it’s sore, she ate most of two buckets of popcorn. 🙂

This is a movie I need to see two more times just to be able to see everything I saw. The best thing about the first viewing, I got all but one of my Star Wars questions answered. All of them but one,

What is Yoda?

That was the only unanswered question. 🙂


I Wonder If the Donner Party Had This Problem

This week has been about stress.

Sorry, this was supposed to be the latest Puddles and Whiskers, but due to the following:

  • The scene I am revising is getting a HUGE update
  • Barb spent the entire week studying for her NAPLEX test, which required me
  • to keep the children quiet all days
  • to run the house solo (except laundry)
  • to make sure that she had what she needed for the best opportunity for success
  • to keep her sane, quick shopping trip helped
  • inclement weather that turned our driveway into an impromptu skating park for three days straight
  • keeping the children quiet would have been easy if they had school, but three days off and running due to the aforementioned weather

Today, Barb took her test. Now a new type of stress, waiting for the results, sets in. However while waiting all of us need to decompress and relax.

I like to use video games as a form of relaxation and sideways thinking. I do not like to use video games as a form of escape, but I found myself realizing I have been doing that this week. This week by the way started last Thursday.

Where I should have been writing, cleaning, cooking, or doing something I spent my free time playing video games. For those who want to know which games, Destiny and Trove. I despise playing games to escape, but because of the overall nature of life around here for the last week I have been escaping.

Not 100% escapism, as noted above, I have had the self-appointed task/job of ensuring that Barb had all that she needed to achieve success or at least prepare for success. Keeping children quiet, at least ours is normally not a difficult task, except when there are three snow days due to rain, snow, freezing which makes ice which turned our driveway into a skating pond/rink.

Day one, they were quiet.

Day two, I had to speak to them about the importance of keeping quiet and not causing problems around the house. Plus I gave the things to do, which for the most part backfired because my things to do were not their things to do, if you have kids you know what I am talking about.

Day three, cabin fever sets in. The highlight (meaning lowlight) of the day, Barb left for her test, the children sleep in due to yet another snow day. The children are free to make noise and this…

“I don’t want to be in the same room as you. I’m leaving to read.”

“Fine! I’m leaving to read too.”

Both of them end up in my office (read my couch), where this happened…

“I want you to know that I left the room first and because I left the room first I get to read out here.”

“No! I left the room after you because I didn’t walk past you.”

“I still left first.”

“Only because you were in the way.”

Then a round of middle fingers, nasty glares, and my suggestion that they both read in separate rooms or watch a movie. At which point, one of them runs off…

“I’m going to watch a movie and read.”

“I wanna watch a movie.”

Movies are in the same room. See the issue?

At this moment, I am typing this, waiting for more stupid shit to happen, and highly amused because both children ended up in the same room reading silently and patently ignoring each other.

And that is why I can’t play the piano and Puddles and Whiskers will be late.

500 and 1 Words At A Time: Holiday Writing

Ah December holidays.

Bane of most gaming groups. Over my lifetime more gaming groups and campaigns have ended in December than any other month.

Bane of scheduled writing. At least for me December has been the bane of regular writing for me.

Weather. Trips. Shopping. Decorating. Cleaning up the weather, trips, shopping, decorating, and most of all cooking, lots of cooking.

I cannot think of another month in the year where so much happens or leads into the month. Thanksgiving drives right into December where people start thinking of Christmas and New Years. This leads to decorating, shopping, and making plans for visits with friends and family.

If you have children, which I do, distractions increase exponentially. There are regular school days-drop off and pick up; half days which make no sense given the nature of snow days (school gets 7 snow days, often uses double digits, but instead of turning half-days into full days, extends school well into summer); special events such as holiday concerts which when you have children in different grades can mean more than one day spent in a concert; sick days; and blah blah blah…

The gist of the story is that today while you are reading this and I wrote this I spent this time not doing:

  • Shoveling the rest of our really long drive way.
  • Pricing snow blowers for our really long drive way.
  • Reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

Writing more Puddles and Whiskers; I have four pages of notes and questions answered, I need more than five minutes to put it all to paper/screen in a meaningful manner. Fun story, for those following the Puddles and Whiskers story, I found a hole in the story. The hole is small, but stands out now that I found it. An early reference to Eth later turns into information Eth could not provide. Quick fix, rename character and leave Eth in place for rest of story. I’m not into quick fixes when I am in the process of expanding the story, so new character is in the process of getting a larger scene along with several other small scenes.

  • Playing games and interacting with the children or getting them outside with a shovel to assist with the really long drive way (have I mentioned our drive way is really long?)
  • Writing more game material for the companion game to Puddles and Whiskers.
  • Visiting with friends, although the snow filled really long drive way will need to be addressed before this could realistically happen.
  • Making rice dressing for sushi.
  • Making sushi rolls.
  • Cleaning the house.
  • Folding laundry.
  • Cleaning off the deck.
  • Salting just about every surface.
  • Hanging more Christmas lights, although I may not do that because you can read by Christmas light.

I think you get the point. I am hoping that per every other year, the week before Christmas and after New Years all of the distractions and calls for my time evaporate as I would really like to have more time to write.