Two things I want to show you; long car trip finally over

We left our home at 10:30 this morning and brought our suitcases up the North Carolina house stairs at 8:15 tonight. Mother of bizness- that is too long in a car.

Thank goodness for the Stuart Gibbs book on tape we had (Space Case; very enjoyable, even for adults) , iPads, and that random Target we found somewhere in Virginia. Horrible traffic on 95S and I had the worst case of motion sickness I've had in ages. Target provided me Dramamine which knocked me out but did cure the vomitous nausea. 

In any case, we are here now, the boys are tucked in, the rest of T's family arrives tomorrow, and our fourth -fifth?- annual beach week has commenced. 

Such a pretty evening

Such a pretty evening

I read this BuzzFeed list of Scottish tweets back to Donald Trump post Brexit and laughed so hard, for so long that I nearly passed out. As such, I feel it would be terribly remiss of me not to share in case you haven't seen it and to urge you to read and snort uproariously one or eleven times. 


Secondly, during today's interminable drive, we also listened to a great NPR podcast from Invisibilia. Called The New Norm, the show was about invisible emotional structures that dictate and/or influence individual behaviors in public. 

Two stories were embedded in the overall feature: one about opening the first McDonald's in Moscow and how difficult it was to convince the employees to adopt the very American greet-with-a-smile customer service; and the other, the one to which I want to draw your attention, about one rig foreman's attempt to change the rigidly Southern-masculine personas Louisiana and Mississippi oilmen often constrict themselves by. FASCINATING! Do yourself a favor, and listen to this. 

Stream of consciousness catch-up/catchall

Taught another class today - Canning 101 - which was great fun. 

Went to dinner with girlfriends- also great fun.

Mulched and tended the now-two blackberry bushes from Papa that comprise my "blackberry patch." I love them. Number 1 is thriving. So are my tomatoes.

Blackberry 1

Blackberry 1

He thinks he's totally hidden

He thinks he's totally hidden

Spent another 90 minutes sorting and building Legos with Jack. We spent a marathon 6 hours yesterday sorting and free-building an X-wing. It was the weirdest sort of sedentary fun. 

Took a run this afternoon, and boy did it feel good to sweat. I haven't exercised in weeks; this is not a good trend, not good for my psyche at all. Pounding the pavement today, making that soft-clop contact with the earth felt so good.

On Saturday, we are heading to NC for our annual family vacation at the beach. It is always wonderful to see the boys with their cousins, and to have no concerns greater than the amount of sand we are or are not tracking inside. We will also get to spend three days with one of my dearest-ever friends and her family. #giftsallaround

Brexit looks like it will happen. This is not, in my opinion, a good thing at all. The Pound is already plummeting. The EU has been beset with problems from the get-go, but I still find this probably departure sad, and if the UK splits afterwards, well, I find that even sadder. Nothing is permanent. That, in many ways, is sad too.

One of my dear friend's parents were just in Louisiana. Her mother, a very talented photographer, took this photo of Lake Martin, a gorgeous swampy area. This picture captures it perfectly, and I am grateful she shared it with me. #myhome

As always, I am hopeful that things feel slower soon. At least my core feels calmer. Baby steps, I guess.

Hosting a Jeopardy! game show party for kids

Our sweet Jack is soon to turn 10, and this year he, as ardent a Jeopardy! fan as his father, requested a Jeopardy! game show for his birthday party.

As was the case when he turned 5 and was hell-bent on a police-themed fiesta, I came up short when searching online for ideas. "Police party" yielded scantily clad women and bondage materials, and Jeopardy simply brought me to Wii games and the official website.

Tom and I thought about making a paper board but quickly realized just how much work that would be AND incorporating the Jeopardy! music and anything like audio and visual clues would be tough.

A Google search lead us to this fabulous Jeopardy Game PowerPoint template into which you type your categories, answers, and questions. It allows you to upload audio and visual files (helpful for categories like "Name That Tune" and "Famous People" identification) and have Daily Doubles. We were able to Air Drop this entire thing live to our TV (via Air Drop/Apple TV) for a real-time game show experience. 

We had a blast thinking up all the categories, answers, and questions that would resonate with Jack and his friends, and I'd like to send a special shout-out to one of the kids' 4th grade teachers who not only led them through a study of Chinese culture, language, topography and history this year but also sent me the China category clues. 

Single Jeopardy; below, one answer/question from the China category.

Single Jeopardy; below, one answer/question from the China category.

Double Jeopardy (we couldn't figure out how to double the monetary amounts); below, an answer/question from Star Wars, and a "Famous Person" visual clue.

Double Jeopardy (we couldn't figure out how to double the monetary amounts); below, an answer/question from Star Wars, and a "Famous Person" visual clue.

We made three contestant podiums out of TV trays and a table, white newsprint, and blue posterboard. Easy and inexpensive as we already had the TV trays and borrowed a small table from Tom's mom. The posterboard came from a local party store and the newsprint was leftover from our move.

Because we were to have three teams of three players each, Jack created single "contestant" names by picking his favorite elements. I do not know why two of them are radioactive and horrible, but I'll chalk that up to #boys. The newsprint was great because it protected the tables, gave me something other than the tables to affix the posterboard to, AND the kids could right their Final Jeopardy wagers and answers directly on it, much like real Jeopardy! contestants do.

two of the three podiums with buzzers

two of the three podiums with buzzers

I bought these battery-powered buzzers on Amazon for $16. Made by Learning Resources, the pack comes with four buzzers, each of which lights up a different color and makes a different sound, two features that I knew would be helpful in determining which team buzzed in first. The kids thought they were terrifically fun.

Tom was Alex Trebek, and had it not been 90 degrees here, he would have worn a suit to more closely resemble the host. I suggested we powder his hair to "go gray," but sadly, he declined. His podium was a box with a Jeopardy! print-out taped on yet another piece of newsprint.

Mom got roped into being a contestant, and Tom's mom kept score while Tom hosted and I filmed the whole thing. The kids were awesome, and the whole thing was hilarious. Plutonium ended up winning by betting bravely in Final Jeopardy.

Then we grilled burgers and hot dogs, served bowls of gumbo and watermelon, and wrapped things up with chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. All in all, a GREAT way to celebrate a birthday!