Tag Archives: games

I’m Going to FIX This.

memory“Point to the picture of something we eat.”  Carlos pointed to the picture in the middle of a set of three and said, “Apple!”

“Which one do we wear?”  He pointed to the right one in the next row and said, “Hat!”

“Show me an animal.”  He chirped, “Frog!” and pointed to the right card.

“Something we ride?”  “Scooter!”

I shuffled the array of Memory cards on the dining room rug.  “Carlos–find something we have at a birthday party.”  He searched through the rows of pictures.  “Pwesents!”

“Wonderful!  Can you find something else that we have at birthday parties?”  I tried to light up the little picture of balloons with the power of my stare.  He didn’t notice it.  Finally, after he had lost interest in that question, I said, “How about the balloons?  We have balloons at birthday parties.”  He grabbed up the balloon card and pressed it together with the picture of presents.  “Ballooooooons!”

I looked up to find that G was watching us from the doorway.  He had gone in to work for a few hours while I stayed home with Carlos.  I told him, “Hey, watch this!”

I pulled a little alphabet abacus kind of toy over to Carlos and said, “Carlos?  What letter is this?”

“B!  Buh-buh-buh…”

“Yes!  What letter is this?”

“F!  Fuh-fuh-fuh…”  His attention wandered back to the Memory cards. The toy has a little row of people at the bottom, each with a different numeral from 1-10 and a different facial expression.

“Carlos?  Can you find someone who is sad?”  He looked up and down the row then poked an image of a girl with a downturned mouth and a tear spouting from her eye.  “Nine!”

“Yes!  Good job!  Can you find someone who looks angry?” He considered carefully then answered, “Six!”  Yep.  That boy’s eyebrows came together in a sharp V shape and his mouth was a straight line.

“Yes!  He looks angry.  Can you find a silly boy?”  He pointed to 10 and mimicked the way the boy was sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth.

That made G laugh. Carlos hopped up from the rug and ran to give G a hug.  That was my sign that our game had come to an end. After Carlos wandered off into the den with the stack of Memory cards crammed into a circus train caboose, G gave me a hug and asked if I was OK.

I said, “I read that report from his last evaluation and got a little nervous about today.” “REALLY?”  G snickered and nodded at the dining room.

In the two hours he had been gone, I had turned it into a learning lab.  We had played hide and seek in the big cardboard box (cooperative play).  We had played Memory (receptive language).  We had stacked objects into the train cars (fine motor) and climbed in out around and through the box (gross motor).  And all of this while he was bare ass nekkid because it is TIME to get this potty training thing locked up.  I even had Sesame Street playing in the other room for good measure.  I had the day off and I WAS GOING TO FIX THIS.  Whatever it is.

Remember that story I wrote a while back about Carlos having some kind of speech issue–“How Could I Have Missed This?”  Today was Chapter Two.  Today was the day we took Carlos to the Marcus Autism Center for testing.  There–I said it.  I said the A-Word.

And guess what?

Maybe, maybe not.  If so, not very.

Because, y’know, he’s three and it’s hard to tell at this age.

In the end, the conclusion was “Keep up the good work.”  And we’ll go back in six months and see a developmental pediatrician.  By then I will either have chilled out a little, or sold the dining room table to buy more flashcards.

As his mom, I am going to do everything in my power to get him what he needs.  And I’m going to do everything in my power to understand what is–and isn’t–in my power.  

Playing Telephone

play phoneHow about a silly story that has nothing to do with Christmas?

When my nephew, Jackson, was about two, Brett dropped him off at Nana’s house for the afternoon.  Jackson’s diaper was riding low.  Brett said, “I’ve tried everything short of tying him down but he will NOT let me change that diaper.  See if you can get him to cooperate.”

After a while at Nana’s, Jackson pulled a yellow plastic phone out of the toy box.  Nana acted all excited and said, “Jackson!  I have a great idea!  Let’s call your daddy and talk to him about that diaper!”

So Nana pretended to dial the plastic phone.  She waited for it to ring and for someone to pick up…all the while Jackson was giggling and wiggling at their silly game.  Then Nana said:

“Hey!  Could I speak to Jackson’s Daddy?  Why yes, I’ll hold”…….”Hey!  I hate to bother you at work, but I need a little help.  Jackson has a wet diaper and he doesn’t want me to change it.  Would you talk to him and tell him that we need to change that diaper?”

Jackson hung on every word that Nana spoke into the yellow plastic phone.

She went on:

“OK, so you’ll talk to him for me?  Good!  Let me put Jackson on the phone.”

She handed the baby the phone.  Like a pro, Jackson stuck the phone between his ear and shoulder and began pacing back and forth across the floor.  He listened carefully to the imaginary voice on the other end of the line.  He nodded his head and said, “Uh huh.  Uh huh.  OK.”

Then he handed the phone back to Nana and said, “Daddy said NOT to change my diaper.”

Well, okey dokey then.



Today’s writing prompt was “If you had a time machine and you could return to one point in your life, where would you go and why?”

My first reaction to this game is always, “What’s the POINT?”  It’s silly to think that I could go back and change a major event in my life.  The whole skein unravels if I tug on one thread and I like where I am now.  Even with sadness that I’ve known, how could I push it away without pushing away the gladness?  Would I go back to that day in grad school when I first laid eyes on Fartbuster?  Or to the day I found out he was cheating?  Why?  If I weren’t that broken-hearted person I became because of loving him, I wouldn’t have been on the side of the highway that morning that I met Richard.  And he wouldn’t have had me beside him when he died.  I can’t have one without the other.  It’s all one life.

Maybe I could revisit a time in my life when I had a clean house and nine hours of sleep a night, but I would undo the tired joys of having two people who light up when they say “Mama!”

As I was pondering this, my friend Robin sent me a Wendell Berry poem:

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over the grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(The Sabbath Poems, 1993, I)

“Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away.”  So where would I go in my time machine?  I don’t want to undo anything, but there is one time I wish I had said Yes instead of No.  When I held myself close instead of being open.  A small sadness but one that has stuck with me.  Here’s when I would go now that I have less reason not to give myself away:

Paris.  December 28, 2005.  A chilly gray morning in a small park by the Eiffel Tower.  It was the third day of my solo trip to Paris and I had my feet under me.  I’d seen the view from the top of the Tour back when I was 21 and in Paris for the first time.  So that morning, as a widow waking up to the world again, I avoided the crowds and barkers near the base of the attraction and walked farther away.  To get some perspective.

My hands were jammed into the pockets of my black cashmere coat, the one I bought just for that trip so I could look more French and less American.  A red and yellow crushed velvet scarf warmed my throat.  Just a woman, walking in Paris.  On her own.

Boule.kugelI stopped to watch a group of elderly men playing petanque.  It’s like bocce or lawn bowling, but French.  There’s one small ball in the middle of the sandy court and each player throws larger metal balls at it in the hopes of tapping the “jack.”

They chided each other after bad throws.  Their laughter billowed in clouds in the frozen air.  Their heads were covered with black wool berets.  They rubbed their hands together to keep them warm and blew hot air into them while they waited turns.  They whooped like little boys and clapped at a masterful toss.  They argued among themselves over the close calls.  

They were busy enjoying each other and didn’t seem to mind that I was watching them.  I watched them for several minutes as my still feet grew colder and colder.  It was time to get back to walking before I froze in place.  I pulled my camera from my messenger bag and took a few snapshots of their game.

Then, in the way of French men who love all kinds of women, even the sad and dark, one of them signaled to me to come over.  I smiled broadly but didn’t come any closer.  Another grandpere turned to me with a friendly wave and invited me to join the game.  I laughed out a “Non, merci!”  

Then I continued my walk.  

That’s the moment I would return to.  I would say “Oui, s’il vous plait!  Merci!”  I would let myself be welcomed.  I would let myself be awkward and silly.  

I would give myself away.  Un petit cadeau.  

Here’s a gift for you to share with someone today.  

wendell berry tree with poem

 If you’d like to read other “time travel” stories, check them out over at My So-Called Glamorous Life.

Saturday Snort – Number 6 Trick

The Six Trick


This is an interesting kind of mind game. 

While sitting in a chair, lift your right foot and move it in clockwise circles. 

While you’re doing this, draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand. 

Your foot will change directions and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Weird, huh???

Let me know if you managed to beat the Six Trick.

Share this post with your friends if you thought it was fun!

Busted Back to Gramma Nutt.


How long has it been since you’ve played Candy Land?  When I was a kid, it was one of my favorites and I can still remember how delicious the board looked and the worn soft edges of the cards that we had played with for years.  Did you know that Candy Land was invented in the 1940’s by a young woman who was recovering from polio?  Imagine the hours of family fun that she created for generations!

One Thanksgiving, 2002 or 2003, most of our family went up to DC to my sister’s house for the holiday.  My nephew, Jackson, was about four so he was RIPE for Candy Land.  He jumped on that game like a duck on a bug.  I am not exaggerating–we played for nine hours straight, stopping only to eat the meal then right back to it.  

Gotta admit…I was sad to see that the familiar Candy Land board had been updated with new places and characters for the special spots on the board.  No more heading for the ice cream floats–instead you visit the icy loveliness of Princess Frostine.  No peanut brittle house.  Now it’s Gramma Nutt’s peanut farm.  The molasses swamp is chocolate now.  What kid even knows what molasses is these days?  At least it’s not all carrots and raisins and celery sticks.  Even Cookie Monster has been forced to admit that cookies are a sometimes food.  Candy Land survives, even if it’s been gentrified.

Today was a sick day for my sport model daughter, so we spent a while on the living room floor playing Candy Land.  She’s gotten a lot better at it in the two years we’ve been playing it.  She remembers which game piece is hers and I don’t have to remind her which direction the path goes.  The counting is a cinch.  She’s even learning to overcome her need to win every game.  She remembers to celebrate every victory with a high five and a cheer of “GOOD GAME!”

frostina250She’s even learned to cheat.  This afternoon, I told her to go set up the board game.  When we were just about to begin the game, she chirped, “I’ll go first!” as she was organizing the deck of cards.  She tried to be cool, but I caught her peeking at the top card.  It was Princess Frostine, the special card that takes a player about 20 spaces from the end of the game.  That little minx had stacked the deck against her own mother!   But this ain’t my first rodeo.  “Aren’t you going to shuffle those cards?” I asked.  Her eyes twinkled as she tried to think of a reason not to.  She knew she had been caught.  I twinkled right back at her.  She shuffled them, went first…and won the game anyway.

The cool thing about Candy Land is that it is a game of pure luck.  No need for strategy or memory or any skill.  It’s just about taking turns and enjoying the game.  Now, with all that said…she beat me four times in a row.  On the third game, I was RIGHT THERE, within reach of the Candy Castle and damn if I didn’t draw Gramma Nut.  Busted back to Gramma Nut.  Vivi didn’t crow as she sped past me to the win.  I still got a high five and “Good Game, Mommy!” but DANG.  We played “one more game” for an hour and as I continued without a W in my column I got a little desperate.  There was a turn where I accidentally picked up two cards that were stuck together and I could have gone with the double yellow but I took the single blue.  It crossed my mind to cheat but I overcame it.  BECAUSE IT’S CANDY LAND, ASHLEY.  

By Game Five, I was in a real crisis of self confidence.  Princess Frostine and her icy perkiness was starting to piss me off, like I could never reach her chilly perfection.  If she lived in this world, she would wear tiny yoga pants and make stevia-sweetened yogurt parfaits for birthday parties.  There I was, back with Gramma Nut and her fluffy apron, sensible sun hat and gardening gloves.  No glamour, no frills.  A peanut farmer.  

Was it taking it too far to go to the Hasbro website and do a little recon on these women?  Well guess what I found out.  

Gramma Nutt

Gramma Nutt, a matriarchal figure who lives in a peanut-brittle house, is one of the most well-loved and recognizable Candy Land characters. She carries a basket, presumably filled with peanuts, and has a small dog shaped like– you guessed it– a peanut.

Queen/Princess Frostine

Symbolized by an ice cream cone, the character of Frostine has also changed over the years. Until 2002, Frostine was a matriarchal-looking queen with white hair. Now she is portrayed as a blonde-haired young woman and has been remaned Princess Frostine. Her domain is called Snowflake Lake and signifies frozen desserts.

So we started out with two matriarchal figures.  One of them ended up getting soft around the belly, living in a nuthouse with a little dog.  The other one aged in reverse, turned blonde and started hanging out at the lake.    

I think it’ll be best for all of us if I go back to work tomorrow.  Because it turns out they’ve updated Frostine in the 2010 version of the game.  Get a load of THIS:

new Frostine