Saturday, August 31, 2013

Risk Legacy: Games 5 and 6

It's been ages since my last Risk Legacy post: May 18th, to be exact!  What happened?  Well, a couple of things.  We've skipped several of our twice-monthly game nights with my brother (a combination of his schedule and ours).  I was dreading playing Risk Legacy again and didn't encourage bringing it out the few times we DID get together.  Game 4 tipped the board so strongly in Australia's favor, it was ridiculous.  Plus, Greg was the ONLY player who could start there.  He deserves to be applauded for positioning himself so advantageously, but it's hard to look forward to a game in which one person is guaranteed to win every time UNLESS one of two things happen: either the other three players gang up on him or one of them camps right outside his door and goes exclusively after him.  I don't like being limited to two options for a chance at victory, especially when one of them depends on two other players cooperating with me.  It takes the fun out.

Another deterrent was that in our last game, we opened a couple of envelopes with a bunch of cards to read through.  After waiting so long to play, I couldn't even remember basic rules, let alone face the challenge of learning new stuff.  But . . . Kylen really wanted to play.  So, after Rage and Star Trek Catan, Greg and I sent him and Ryan downstairs, while we poured over Risk Legacy.

What followed was awful.

Lately, Kylen has been into iphone Risk.  He thought he could apply his strategies in the digital world to real life.  Since he could win by taking North America, he reasoned that would work here.  Not so.  He and Ryan fought over the continent, effectively destroying each other, while Greg enjoyed his tremendous advantages in Australia.  He won quickly and easily.  I was the only player who had any chance of slowing him down.  Unfortunately, I didn't remember just how strong his advantage was until his second turn.  Then, it all came rushing back like a terrible nightmare.  By then it was too late to change my starting location.  He took his continent during his first turn, got 3 extra men due to having named said continent in a prior game, and got bonus men from territories early on (due to cities in Australia and the ease of expansion from a single entry point continent).  Meanwhile, I was struggling to do anything - anything at all - in Africa.

I complained a lot.  Greg realized it was too easy for him to win and decided to give himself a stumbling block by making it possible for someone else to start in Australia.  It was a truly noble action, especially when he could have rewarded himself by increasing his advantage even more.

Australia Player (Green) Dominated

Because Ryan wiped Kylen off the board, we were able to open a new envelop:

Greg and Kylen Fooled Around While Ryan Read the New Cards

We quickly went over the new stuff and started game 6.  Ryan got highest die and went first.  He chose Australia as his starting location.  No one serious about winning would start anywhere else.  From there on, it was the previous game all over again, except Greg and Ryan switched places.  Kylen made taking North America his top priority.   He and Greg wiped each other out.  I didn't park right outside Australia, because I was hoping that somehow there was an alternative way of winning.  Instead of starting in Africa, I started in Europe.  I was closer to Australia that way, and I had an easier time taking Europe than Africa, because Greg and Kylen were further away from me.  I actually did pretty well, but not well enough.  Australia was so easy to protect, Ryan could keep most of his extra men together on a single territory, while I had to spread mine out.  I did have one large army in his way, but his was bigger.  He broke through my defenses (horrible dice didn't help), and Australia owner won quickly and easily again. 

Australia Player (Purple) Wins Again!
At that point, I was pretty frustrated.  I didn't want to play this game anymore.  However, there was one bright spot: Ryan won a mission that allowed us to connect ANY two outside territories on the board.  We all agreed that Australia needed to be reigned in and joined her to the other side of the world.  I am desperately hoping that will give the next Australia player (even if it's me) enough of a challenge to make the game less predictable!

Australia is now connected to . . .

North America!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August Update & School

August was a more typical summer month than June and July.  We went camping, visited the lake and enjoyed dinner a couple of times with friends, relaxed, and resumed our "moving back into the basement" process (sorting, getting rid of, putting away).  Our garage is finally looking less like a junk space!

I did begin taking my new medication shortly after posting the July update. Thankfully, I have not struggled much with side effects. My doctor recommended slowly working up to full dosage, and I'm not there yet. I have a little stiffness, but for the most part I feel pretty good! (Well, other than my back going out a few days ago.)  I still have some breathing problems occasionally, but I have high hopes that it will eventually go away.  So far, I like this new medication much better than the previous one.  The improvement in my mental outlook is amazing.  I'm considering doing a post about my overall experience.

Our co-op had registration last week.  All summer, we thought there would be a guitar class offered for advanced students.  Several other parents were hoping for that as well.  When we checked the schedule, it was another beginner's class!  Oof!  I was surprised at how many students from last year went ahead and took it anyway.  Latin from the Roots Up 2 would have been a perfect alternative, since Kylen took Roots 1 at co-op last year.  Nope, that one got moved to last hour.  There really was nothing he could take that made sense, so I added a chess class at the last minute.  I actually don't care for the game myself, so I won't be teaching much!  I figure, the students can learn through experience.  :-)  I had a backup plan in case no one signed up, but I got a class of 6!  First hour he's taking German again and, last hour, basketball.  He's excited about his co-op classes!

We're using the same currick as last year for math, history, science, and current events.  I told Kylen he could choose two instruments to continue lessons.   He picked violin and piano, although I'm sure he'll keep practicing guitar on his own.  We didn't know he could learn violin and fiddle on the same instrument!  He just had his first fiddle lesson, and this is the first week he has had daily practice doing both styles.  We all love how it sounds!  Makes me want to jump up and dance a jig!

For college preparation, I am getting information from Lee Binz.  I've subscribed to her Total Transcript Solution and plan on making a transcript this year to practice for high school.

Math ~ A Beka Algebra I
English ~ My own thing (creative writing, essays, reports); I will be using one of Greg's software projects - his time manager - to record how much time Kylen spends on his stories.  I want to get a feel for how to work it into a high school English credit.
Vocabulary ~ We purchased an electronic dictionary to speed the process of looking up words while I'm reading aloud. Kylen enjoys playing games on it!
History ~ Sonlight read alouds from Core H and a thorough notebook based study of the 50 states using a variety of resources, including A Beka's My State Notebook, materials by Joy Dean, a video series, recipes, etc.
Science ~ Evolution: The Grand Experiment Vol. 2 Living Fossils (including DVD and teacher's manual)
Current Events ~ God's World News
Language ~ English from the Roots Up 2, German at co-op
PE/Sports ~ Basketball at co-op, exercises from private trainer sessions, tennis downstairs
Music ~ Violin/fiddle and piano lessons
Bible ~ Evening reading and discussion; The BBC Manual (haven't gotten far, but impressed with this book so far!  only dislike is the different Bible version used - Greg has Kylen look up the reference verses in his own Bible.)

We'll be easing into school next week and should be going full steam by the second week in September.  :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Idaho Fair 2013

We haven't been to the Idaho fair in many years, but a friend kindly offered to take us on the day kids 13 and under get in free.  Running into people we knew and recognizing names in the 4-H entries brought a dimension of fun we don't usually experience at the Spokane fair.  I think we'll still go to the Spokane one for food and rides (two things we skipped), and next year I'd love to do both again: Idaho for the people and Spokane for the nostalgia.

Monday, August 26, 2013


A gal from our Bible study shared this game with us.  I was hooked from the start!  It reminds me of Rook but with twists and wild cards that make it less predictable.  We couldn't find one in the stores and had to order ours.  I'm hoping it will be released again in the future.

You hand out 10 cards the first time and keep decreasing by one until everyone only gets one card in the final round.  Everyone bids on how many hands they expect to take.  You get a point for every hand you take plus 10 points if you made your bid.  If you didn't make your bid, you lose 5 points.  The wild cards can give another player a bonus 5 points or take away 5 points.  They can also nullify trump or change it in the middle of a hand.  Everyone must follow suit, but if you don't have the color led, you can play anything, including trump.  The more players, the more unpredictable it is.  When just Kylen and I play, we're pretty evenly matched.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We Made It!!


This place wowed us.  An easy 15 minute walk along a trail, and you get a stunning view of God's handiwork. My uncle said that 45 minutes further up, there is another spot where people slide down the rocks into pools. Here, there wasn't enough water flowing for more than a short slide for a young child. That's probably a different story during spring runoff!  Either way, it's a rock climber's paradise.  Back before I had arthritis, I would have loved to keep going up the stream to see what what lay around the bend.

One of Kylen's favorite parts was riding in the back of the truckbed on the way up and back.  There were places so bumpy, I was worried they'd fall out!  The road was poor enough that a car would be challenged, although we did see cars parked at the trailhead (and wondered about the people's sanity who drove them).

My aunt and uncle went out of their way to make this a memorable trip.  They've been camping here each summer for 15 years or so and are well acquainted with the area.  Each day, they presented us with the possibilities, asked what WE wanted to do, and made sure it happened.  From the delicious meals and boating to swimming and hiking, we had a marvelous time.  The only downside was my pesky feet, which got sore faster than expected and made me sound like a nag asking Greg to do everything!

After saying our goodbyes and driving away, they secretly ran to another side of the campground.  We didn't think we'd be getting another glimpse of anyone we knew during our long 2 1/2 hour drive home.  Suddenly, there they were on the side of the road, in a completely unexpected place, waving wildly!  It gave me such a neat feeling.  Almost made me want to turn around and stay another night!

Friday, August 23, 2013

On the Way . . .


Wednesday, August 21, 2013



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Sand Castle

We discovered this sand castle while boating.  Someone did a great job!

Boating: Part 2

Monday, August 19, 2013


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Preparing for Tubing

Clear Water