Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To Blind or not to Blind

We just returned from spending a few days in Mountain Home with my two brothers, their wives, and their combined 6 children. Add our brood, and that's 14 people. Sounds like a recipe for insanity, I know, but it was really a lot of fun.

Each night, after the kids went to bed, the 6 adults played a game. Two of the nights, it was spades. And therein lies the event about which I wish to write today. We had a disagreement of rather spectacular proportions, and I would like some outside opinions on the topic. This is about the game of spades, so if you don't know how to play you won't be able to have an opinion on this. Well, maybe that's not the case--I know some people whose ability to create an opinion on something is completely unrelated to whether or not they know anything about it.


Here's the situation. Since there were 3 couples, and spades is a 2-couple game, we devised a round robin method of play, in which each couple sat out 1 of every 3 hands. So the first round was couples 1 and 2, the next round was couples 2 and 3, and the third round was couples 3 and 1. It worked beautifully. We predetermined how many rounds we would play so that each team played an equal number, and at the end the team with the highest points would win. The individual scores wouldn't matter (so even if Team 1 beat Team 2 in all their games together, Team 2 could still win if they ended up with the most overall points).

Two rounds before the end of the game, Team 1 had about 600 points. Teams 2 and 3 each had about 300 points. They both expressed the wish to play the next hand "Blind Nil," which can only be done if a team is at least 200 points behind. Team 1 opposed this, arguing that while both teams were in fact more than 200 points behind Team 1, they were NOT 200 points behind everyone, and therefore were not eligible to play Blind Nil. A heated discussion ensued, One member of the group, and I will not say which member other than to say that it is his or her birthday today, threatened to walk away from the game if he or she did not get his or her way.

Is this post dorky enough for you yet? The thing is, there really isn't a real right or wrong answer--it's not like there's an official rule book for 3 teams playing round-robin spades. So to determine the best choice, you have to use an innate sense of logic and understanding about the purpose of allowing someone to go Blind Nil in the first place.

Now the post is DEFINITELY dorky enough.

Okay, I need some feedback now. Which of the following do you believe is the right decision?

A) Teams 2 and 3 should not have been allowed to go Blind Nil at all, regardless of who they were playing in the round, because they were not 200 points behind all other teams.

B) Teams 2 and 3 should ONLY have been allowed to go Blind Nil if they were playing a round with Team 1, even though individual round scores didn't matter.

C) Teams 2 and 3 should have been able to go Blind Nil at any point, regardless of the round, as long as they were 200 points behind the leading team.

I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks! Feel free to explain your rationale. Hopefully I have explained this neutrally so as not to have swayed my loyal fans. If I end up being in the minority with my opinion, I will gracefully concede. Probably.

PS. Happy Birthday, Mike!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ways I can tell, without looking at a calendar, that it's almost Christmas

***A disclaimer before you read this post: I LOVE Christmas. This list might make it seem like I'm all jaded and bah-humbug-y, but that's not at all the case. Still, no one reads this blog for sweetness and light, so once again smarminess reigns on AMENMom. ***

1. It is a physical miracle to make it in and out of the toy section of Target unscathed.

2. I have to wear sunglasses to drive down my street at night or risk being blinded by "exciting" light displays.

3. Radio channels that usually play songs revolving around girls' bottoms and "hooking up" are suddenly airing music about a baby born to a virgin.

4. My newspaper is 4 times thicker due to store ads.

5. Sonic's cups have clever Christmas sayings on them.

6. People in charge at my children's schools and our church actually arrange for them to get on a stage with an audience in front of them and sing.

7. Catalogs virtually explode out of my mailbox daily.

8. Our laundry doubles. (I don't know how exactly this is connected to Christmas, but it has definitely happened.)

9. Matt is laid up for a couple of days after he strains his back pulling all of our decorations out of the attic.

10. I draw a complete blank when anyone asks me what I want for Christmas, then just blurt out the first thing I can think of that sounds remotely normal. This usually results in me getting 42 bottles of body wash for Christmas.

How do you know it's almost Christmas?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

For the record, we have very nice dish towels.

Here's the deal. When we found out I was pregnant, we knew we needed more living space. That gave us two choices: make our house bigger or buy a bigger house. We made a valiant effort to go with choice A. We LOVE our house, our street, our location, everything. We just need a couple more rooms. Unfortunately, with our house and our lot it just wasn't feasible. Also unfortunately, this meant we had to do the thing I have always feared more than just about anything on earth, except maybe homeschooling: putting our house on the market.

Have you been to my house? If so, then you know that it's a mess. We are clutter fiends. We just have a lot of STUFF. You know? I don't know what other people do with all their stuff. They have to have it though! For example. Where do other people put kids' sunglasses, unused picture frames, the channel guide for their cable, and 30 boxes of crayons? I can tell you where we put that stuff. The bar, or the desk, or the dining room table. Not anymore, though! Now we will have strangers waltzing through our house, judging us on our toothbrushes and our kitchen towels and our choice of window treatments. Ugh! I loathe the thought.

First, though, we had to spend a frantic couple of weeks prepping the house, which for us meant filling to the brim a 10 foot square storage room with things we own but in no way, shape or form actually use or need. Seriously, I am selling 95% of it as soon as it becomes garage sale weather.

We are close to being done, but still not quite there yet. If we get any lookers this weekend, they are in for a startling surprise when they go in our garage, in that it resembles a room from that show "Hoarders" more than it does an actual garage. We haven't been able to park a car in there since 2004. I am not joking.

My sincere hope is that someone will read this blog and go, "Hey! I was just thinking that I need a new house and I love Nancy's. I'm going to call her and make an offer RIGHT NOW!" Barring that, my hope is that the people who come look at the house will find it charming and will be forgiving of the little clutter that will inevitably sneak back in over time. And by over time, I mean by Friday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dance on

How embarrassing. It has been almost 3 weeks since I last blogged. To my public, I apologize. To all 6 of you. It has been a busy few weeks. Right on the heels of my birthday was Thanksgiving and Matt's birthday. We've got tons of stuff going on, blah blah blah.

Last week, I left on Tuesday for Little Rock unexpectedly. My great uncle Lonnie, my grandmother's brother, passed away Tuesday evening. I stayed until the funeral on Saturday.

As I was growing up I spent a lot of time with Uncle Lonnie and his marvelous wife, Aunt Joyce. They live out in the country, and every trip to their house was filled with tractor rides, walks to the pond, and nervewracking encounters with aggressive geese (don't laugh until you've had one chasing you). All of that paled in comparison, though, to the pure entertainment package that was Uncle Lonnie.

Before I was born, Uncle Lonnie was in a car accident that ultimately caused both of his legs to be amputated and created a lifetime of medical issues for him. Most people would see this as a mountain-sized burden. Uncle Lonnie saw it as an opportunity to amuse and/or terrify people. I would go as a child to see him in the hospital after various surgeries on his legs, and he would spend his entire visit trying to convince me that if I tickled the air where his feet were supposed to be he would really feel it. Popping his legs off in front of unsuspecting visitors was one of his favorite pasttimes. I remember the first time he did it for Abby--while she was recovering in the fetal position I laughed until I cried with my uncle.

I am crazily blessed to have a huge extended family that I 1)actually like and 2) am close to. The days before and of Uncle Lonnie's funeral were a wonderful time of visiting, joking and much, much laughing. We are not a quiet bunch. In a group of cool people, Uncle Lonnie always stood out as one of the coolest, and I will miss him often. His and Aunt Joyce's 52 year marriage was one of a handful that, when we got married, Matt and I decided we want ours to look like 50 years from now. It is a lofty goal, let me assure you. No one came within 20 feet of them without knowing they were crazy in love.

Uncle Lonnie's funeral was lovely. Matt and I decided, for multiple reasons, that we wanted Abby to go. She loved my uncle, and I was worried that she couldn't handle it. She was a champ, though, and even would pat my back and tell me it was going to be okay when the emotion and pregnancy hormones collided and threated to turn me into a sobbing mess on the church floor a few times. Don't even get me started on the incredible military burial, one of which I have never witnessed in person before and is enough to make me weep just thinking about it.

I know that my uncle is in heaven, and I am sure that Uncle Lonnie is providing some serious entertainment up there. Abby asked me if he had his whole body back and was dancing with Jesus using his real legs. I told her there was no doubt.