John's Birthday Scramble

So there's something you may already know about me . . . shocker . . .I'm a deadline girl!

Give me a deadline and I'll meet it - usually by the skin of my teeth, but I'll meet it.

Don't give me a deadline and I'll advance 50 levels in Candy Crush and watch a bunch of HGTV. 

One time I mentioned to John that it doesn't help my cause that I often produce my best work under crushing deadlines, thus giving me no penalty for my deplorable lack of time management skills. He replied that I may simply be unable to work ahead, that it is the deadline itself  that unlocks my creativity. 

Uh oh.

He may be right.

Wise beyond his years, that guy.

Or maybe wise FOR his years, since he's been getting pretty old of late.

His birthday was yesterday, a Wednesday, and I was right proud of myself for figuring out what to get him during our bike ride last Saturday, when his Fitbit watch was out of battery (AGAIN!) so he was unable to track his exercise. We got Karl an Apple Watch for his birthday last summer and at the time John mentioned that he might like one, too. He doesn't buy himself technology, though. He still has an iPhone 5, despite daily e-mails from Verizon begging and incentivizing him to upgrade. I considered upgrading his phone, but I wasn't sure what he would like, so instead I decided to get him the Apple Watch. I ordered it from Apple on Monday and with free 2-day shipping it was set to arrive on his birthday and all would be well.

Except . . . it was "out for delivery" ALL.FREAKING.DAY!!! And you have to sign for it, so there was no leaving the house to go pick up the cupcakes or drop off a package at the post office that HAD to go out yesterday.

Oh, and I had a deadline for work, too, so I had to finish that up before I could even think about making a birthday card.

I couldn't even take a shower until the kids arrived home from school, for fear that I would miss the doorbell. When the kids got home from school I was able to leave the front door attending to them and run the errands, but still the UPS truck didn't come.

John left work early and called me to say he was only a half hour away.

Emma and I looked at each other in horror, realizing that we had NOTHING for him. No card, no present. OK, yes, we had cupcakes, but nothing else.

So we sprang into action. We found some pieces and parts of pop-up Cake cards left from CHA Make 'n Takes and built the basic structure of the card. Emma colored the greeting and cut the decorator pieces for the cake. 

"Can you cut out a Liverpool bird for the top of the cake?" she asked me. Sheesh! Of course she would have that very sweet but time-consuming personalization idea.

So I found an image online, traced it SUPER QUICK, shrunk it and cut it out on my e-cutter. Whew! Inside of the card done.

For the front of the card I had an idea to make an Apple Watch for one of the Characters. I used the little apple from Props 7 and styled it like the Apple logo on a small piece of black cardstock. We found an assembled Jinks the monkey, stole a cupcake from an assembled Baker the Beaver, and Emma cut out a party hat from Props 2. 

Unfortunately John arrived home before we had quite finished the card, so we had to claim that we were working on Emma's Government homework in my office and needed absolute privacy.

"I think he's onto us" I said to Emma when we returned to my office.

"Because you're a terrible liar!" she replied.

We also had to admit to John that we couldn't go to dinner yet as we were waiting on the UPS truck and that it was now highly probable that it was not coming. He didn't mind.

But we spoke too soon, because I heard the truck just after 6 pm and was standing on the front stoop jumping and giggling when the driver walked up with the package.

Emma wrapped the present while I decorated an envelope and took some quick photos of the card. Despite the scramble, we somehow managed to leave for dinner NOT empty-handed!

Once again, saved by a crushing deadline!



John chose a local Italian restaurant, Hasta la Pasta, for his birthday meal.

I should note that it's been raining, non-stop, for two days now. And if you don't believe me, just check out the curly locks on these three! Emma says she's tired of trying to tame her hair and is just embracing the curls. 


I, on the other hand, as evidenced by this blurry selfie, have stick-straight hair that will not hold curl, even if I were to get a perm, as I tried many times in my teenage years. People say that Emma looks like John and that Karl looks like me, which I think is mostly true, but Karl definitely got John's curls!


I hid the gift in my purse because we knew that John would recognize the box shape, especially since he knew that it was delivered by UPS and that I had to sign for it. He's no dummy, despite his advanced age. Heh.

Sure enough, as soon as we gave it to him he said "Hey! I recognize this box from YOUR birthday, Karl!" He also commented that he and President Obama now have the same watch. (Which he knows from watching "Comedians in Cars getting Coffee", mind you!) 


Everyone was stuffed from dinner so we decided not to go for the cupcakes when we got home. Well, everyone except Karl, naturally.

"I'm just going to make mine into a cupcake sandwich and eat half of it" he declared.

"What's a cupcake sandwich?" asked John.

"It's when you cut the cake part in half and move the bottom to the top so the frosting's in the middle," answered Karl, while demonstrating. "Ymfou gmet frmosrming in emvery bite!" (You get frosting in every bite)


"Wow!" said John, laughing and impressed, "Did you invent that?"

"Nope. Life hacks." 

Ha! Good times.

Happy Birthday, John!


Emma's a future Aggie!

It took Emma a while to decide what she wanted to study in college. John and I (naturally) thought she'd make an excellent engineer, but she was not convinced. Then she took an AP Statistics course and loved it. She aced the course and scored a 5 on the AP Exam. She asked her teacher if there were any careers in Statistics and was delighted to hear that it was actually a sought-after field, highly employable. She also loves research, especially the study of people, so she's hoping to combine those interests into a career as a research statistician.

We started researching universities with Statistics majors and discovered that it was a Masters level degree at most institutions. The University of Washington offers a Bachelors degree in Statistics so we went out and toured the campus last year, but while Emma loved it, the finances and geography made it an impractical choice, especially with so many great schools in Texas. As we explained, her college fund could be stretched to cover part of grad school with in-state tuition, but would be depleted much faster with out-of-state tuition.

John came across an article about Texas A&M possibly starting a Statistics undergraduate program in the Fall of 2016. After talking to the head of the department it seemed extremely likely to be added, so Emma put all of her energies into getting accepted to A&M. She retook her SAT's and increased her score. She wrote three amazing essays. Then we went on a prospective student tour and left feeling a little discouraged. By State law, Texas public universities are required to admit all applicants from the top 10% of their graduating class from accredited Texas high schools. The top 10% makes up the bulk of incoming freshman at A&M. While Emma has a good GPA, she attends a huge and very high-performing high school. The top 10% in her school all have GPA's of 4.3 or higher. (I know!) With Emma's rank, she had to apply for one of the "review" spots, which only encompass 13% of the incoming freshman and includes the out-of-state applicants as well. Even worse, they don't consider major choices when deciding who to admit. So even though Emma does not intend to study engineering, business or architecture (the 3 most sought-after majors at A&M) it wouldn't increase her odds for acceptance. We started to consider "Plan B's" and hoped that if she wasn't admitted straight in, that A&M would offer her an alternative for her Freshman year - either Blinn team (the local junior college) or one of their other campuses. 

Yesterday she got the best possible news . . . admitted straight in, and with her first-choice major! WHOO HOO! Way to go, Em!



I'm fairly sure I'm going to be a blubbering mess when I drop her off in College Station next fall. Karl will be staying home for another year to work on some additional computer certifications and take some community college courses, so at least I'm not sending them both off at the same time. Still, I look at the photos of Emma and all I can see is this:

Emma 4

Love you, baby girl! Congratulations!

Fun with a Green Screen

During Thanksgiving dinner:

ME: OK, Family, what are we doing for our Christmas photo card this year?

JOHN: Matching pajamas?

EMMA: Never.

KARL: I think we should Photoshop our heads onto the members of Nickelback.

(lots of laughter)

JOHN: Why Nickelback?

KARL: Why not?

ME: Actually . . . this sparks an idea. What if we got a green screen? We could plop ourselves into any scene we wanted!

KARL: (enthusiastically) Plus, for videos . . . 

ME: Exactly!

Karl and I were already wavelengthing on the possibilities for video effects with a green screen. 

The day of the shoot arrived. It was overcast with intermittent rain so we set up in the carport. The day before we'd gone out shopping to find flannel shirts and scarves that had no green in them. 


We really weren't sure what background to choose. We tried various stock photos and ended up choosing the moon. I did my best with Photoshop but I'm certainly no expert, so there is a slight green halo around us, but that works for the moon, right? Green cheese and all?

John suggested adding the shadows at our feet including darkening Emma's boot where it would be in shadow from the moon rock. Nice touch, eh?

John was also the one who figured out that our card should say "Peace on Earth" or "Joy to the World". We settled on this one:

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 3.08.53 PM

I also had fun with a few of the outtake photos:



Good times. Good times.

Today I set up the Green Screen in my office so I could shoot the intro for a sneak peek video for my new CHA collection. While I had the screen up I decided to also shoot a quick trailer for my YouTube channel. 


The Sneak Peek video should go up by the end of the week. I leave next week for CHA (gulp!) and there is still so much to do.

2014 Countdown to Christmas Finale - the Auction!

This year we decided to hunt clues only once a week but still managed to miss last week because of Finals. Rather than make up the missing week I promised the kids an "epic" finale to the Christmas Clues on Christmas Eve.

Today was the day!

I knew I wanted to end with a Survivor-style auction with a decadant amount of sweet treats. (We would, of course, impose consumption limits on the treats) I headed up to Kroger to buy 8 auction items. My thought was to start with something simple, like a single donut with red and green sprinkles and then work up to the final item which would be a mystery box filled with a mixture of every type of M&M's. I bought regular, peanut, mini, mega, pretzel, peanut butter and dark. They didn't have the mint ones and I skipped the almond because the kids don't like them.

I shut myself up in my office and sat on the floor mixing M&M's in a giant plastic bag. The rest of the items were still in shopping bags next to me. Suddenly the doorbell rang - a delivery that we had to sign for. The dogs, as is their custom, were barking and scratching at the front door, waiting for me to open it so they could either bolt out the door or lick the deliveryman. Rather than attempt to wrangle them I got the bright idea to just shove them in my office and close the door.


I know.

When I finished with the deliveryman I realized my mistake. I opened the door to find two happy dogs attempting to open a big bag of M&M's and a Nutella snack pack. The waxed paper was all that remained of the donut. 

"SH*T! SH*T! SH*T!" I yelled, in true Christmas spirit.

Luckily it was really only the donut that was lost. The M&M's and Nutella survived the attack.

I got everything arranged and hidden and then called the kids to start the hunt.


KARL: "Check the back of lime pie (key), What's the word for little g? The second word (pick up the pace) Is soft & fluffy and has a case"

EMMA: I think it must be your yogurt, Karl.

It's really MY yogurt, by the way. I love Key Lime Pie yogurt but once Karl discovered it he keeps eating all my yogurt. So much so that the Key Lime Pie yogurt is now referred to as "Karl's yogurt". Sheesh!

They went to the fridge and checked all the yogurt containers.

EMMA: I don't see anything on the bottom of these yogurts.

ME: The clue doesn't say to check the bottom.

EMMA: OK, so the back, but what's on the back?

KARL: I suppose the "little g" means grams. But grams of what?

EMMA: Oh! Karl, I think it means that the clue is something of Gram's! We have to figure out the second part. OK, so what's soft and fluffy and has a case? My instruments have cases but they aren't soft and fluffy!


Now you may be wondering "Why is Emma not figuring out that easy clue?" and to answer, I have to stop and tell a little story that happened Sunday, while John and Karl were picking up his mother ("Gram") to come stay with us for Christmas and Emma and I were cleaning the house.

EMMA: Mom, toss me the sheets from the dryer for the guest room bed.

We toss laundry up to the balcony. For more about this charming ritual you can read Clue 15 from the 2011 Countdown to Christmas hunt.

I tossed her the sheets and she went to make the bed and then returned to the balcony.

EMMA: Mom, there's only one pillow cover.

I looked around and saw that I had dropped one by the laundry room door.

ME: I found it. I'll toss it up. You know they're called pillowcases, right?

EMMA: What?

ME: You called it a "pillow cover" but they have a real name - they're called pillowcases.

EMMA: (shrugs) OK, whatever they're called.

It's amazing how you can discover something new about your teenagers, like appalling lapses in vocabulary.

Back to the hunt -

EMMA: Karl, can you think of anything soft and fluffy that has a case?

KARL: A pillow?

(Atta boy!)

EMMA: Oh! It's Gram's pillow! Come on!


EMMA: "Glittery orbs with twinkling lights, Mom tried something new, So much silver, So much white, Wait . . . is that one blue?" Karl, it's the Christmas tree.

The ran down the stairs.

KARL: How do you know it's the tree?

EMMA: Because Mom only put silver and white ornaments on this year. There must be a blue one somewhere on the tree.


EMMA: Got it! It's back here and it's a Tardis! WOW! This is a cool ornament - where'd it come from?

KARL: Stay focused.

EMMA: Right.

Both the kids are Dr. Who fans so I thought this would be a great new ornament for us. I had the clue attached to the bottom.


KARL: "My first word is a room in Clue, But which one? That's the goal, Perhaps if you knew the second word? OK . . . it's el arbol." What's that?

EMMA: Come on, Karl - you're taking Spanish right now!

KARL: You already took two years!

EMMA: I guess this is a job for Google Translate.

KARL: The word is tree? That's not a room.

EMMA: Oh wait - I think that's just the second word. Hmmm.... Oh! Hall Tree!

KARL: But "Hall" isn't a room in Clue.

EMMA: Yes it is!


The hall tree was sufficiently piled with stuff to make the hunt take a while. Finally they opened the big drawer and found two tins inside. They opened their tins to discover Monopoly money and another clue.


KARL: Meet me in the Breakfast Room, Bring your money, wits and wile, The first inaugural Christmas Eve . . . AUCTION! (Survivor style!)

He shouted the word "Auction" by the way. He's a very literal reader.


John took on the role of Jeff Probst, the host of the show Survivor, and used the wrapped box top (it had no bottom) to hide the items up for Auction. Just like on Survivor the kids were warned that the auction would end without warning. 

They were surprisingly polite about things, making deals and not bidding each other up. I expect that they may be more ruthless next year, now that they know the quality of goods available. Karl ended up with the box of mixed M&M's but Emma got the giant cupcake, so they were pleased with the split.


Everyone agreed it was a fun way to end the Countdown.

John was talking to his mother afterward.

JOHN: Did you hear the catastrophe that almost happened with the dogs? When Karen yelled?

GRAM: Oh, you mean the SH*T! SH*T! SH*T!? Yeah, I heard that.

Ah, Christmas!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

2014 Countdown to Christmas Week 2 - Chocolates of the World

My apologies for not getting this up last night. We hunted the clues late because Emma had a hair appointment with Tina to get her hair rePixied. (What? It's a word.)

I was at the salon earlier this week getting my hair deGrayed, (What? It's a word.) and Tina and I were talking about Christmas decorations. I am woefully behind getting my tree and decorations up and have only managed to do most, but not all, of a new white/silver mantle decor. I also ordered three gorgeous poinsettias from Emma's band.

Tina is unable to have real poinsettias at home because she has cats. She also mentioned that she hadn't done much to decorate the salon for Christmas. Armed with those two pieces of information, I felt that the perfect Christmas gift for Tina would be either a fake poinsettia plant for home OR a piece of decor for the salon.

I chose to make a little hybrid of those two ideas - using fake silver poinsettias, frosted twigs of white glittered berries and silver balls to decorate a styrofoam tree.


I really haven't made very many trees over the years, so I was a little unsure if it would come together, but in the end I liked it how it turned out, although it did create a huge mess and I burned through about 5 hot glue sticks getting everything on there. 



Here's where Tina chose to put the tree in the salon. Looks great there!


Once we got home I quickly hid the clues and the loot, but the light was gone and the photos aren't great. (You'll just have to use your imagination while I bring the scene to life with my words) Heh.


KARL: "First word: 'It was the best of blank. Not down, but blank' With pantomimes!" Huh?

EMMA: I think it must have something to do with that game we were playing the other night.

KARL: It was the best of what? Friends?

ME: Dad is an acceptable reference.


JOHN: It's from A Tale of Two Cities "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

EMMA: OK, so that first blank is "times". Not down, but "up".

KARL: Time's up!


The game was sitting on the sofa table, along with Emma's library books, one of the pretty poinsettias, Karl's $5 Explosion Box gift (exchange is today) and some rolled up white paper that I was using as a backdrop for photographing some CHA samples.

Did I mention that the light was fading fast? No time for tidying.

They found the next clue inside the box. This one went so fast that I didn't even get a chance to photograph them reading it.

EMMA: (opening the clue) Oh there's a photo in here. "Are you observant? I couldn't say - " OH! It's that picture in the breakfast room.

She dropped the clue and went straight to the picture. 

ME: Hey! That was too fast. Find it again!

She reenacted, ever so naturally, finding the clue atop this little art piece of New Orleans that was given to me by my Barriere Construction coworkers when we moved from New Orleans to Colorado fourteen years ago. I've always loved this little framed piece of New Orleans, but I wasn't sure if the kids ever really noticed it.

Apparently at least Emma has.

JOHN: What just happened?


KARL: I'll tell you what happened. We hadn't even finished READING the clue and Emma ran right over here to this picture and found it.

JOHN: Well what was the second line of the clue?

KARL: "Are you observant about stuff you see each day?" or something like that.

ME: But rhyming, of course.

KARL: (shrug)




EMMA: "The candy's close, so be astute. You load this, but it doesn't shoot." Hmmm. That's interesting. What's something that you load but doesn't shoot?

KARL: (thinking) The washing machine? The dishwasher?

EMMA: (impressed) Wow! I bet you're right. You check the dishwasher and I'll check the washing machine.

Now it probably should have clued them both in which one was right, since I followed Karl into the kitchen.


The candy is under that colander, but he didn't see it. He closed up the dishwasher.

EMMA: (returning from laundry room) Wasn't in the washing machine. How about the dishwasher?

KARL: Nope.

Uh oh. This presented a problem. 

ME: Well a second set of eyes is always good. How about you switch and Karl checks the washing machine and Emma checks the dishwasher?

EMMA: (puzzled) Uh, OK.

Again, I feel that since I stayed put in the kitchen they should have known which place was right, but I don't think they did. Karl went off to the laundry room.


Emma was a much more thorough sleuth. She found the candy.

I had purchased various chocolates from around the world - chocolate twigs, sardines, umbrellas and Kinder Santas.


JOHN: Wait - THOSE were in the dishwasher? How did Karl miss that?

EMMA: I know, right?

KARL: (with dignity) They were hidden under a colander.

We are planning an all-out blitz of decorating on Saturday, so next week's hunt should have more festive backdrops. (Plus new potential hiding spots! Whoot!)

See you next week!

Candy Sleigh Explosion Box

Karl has a $5 gift exchange at school this week and thanks to a candy sale at CVS I was able to stay within budget to make a candy sleigh.


If ever there were a time for an explosion box, right? I cut lightweight chipboard into the panels I would need for a 7" x 4.5" x 4.5" box. The lid is 7.25" x 4.75" x 1". I attached ribbon to the box lid, hiding the ends inside the lid underneath the interior paper panel. The bow is hot glued to the top.


When you lift the lid . . .  


Here's a 5-second video of the box in action:


A video posted by Karen Burniston (@karenburniston) on Dec 12, 2014 at 12:30pm PST

Later this evening we'll be hunting our weekly clues for the Countdown to Christmas, so keep an eye out for that.


2014 Countdown to Christmas Week 1 - Candy Sleighs

In case you missed yesterday's post, I explained that my twins *thought* they outgrew this tradition of the Christmas Clues. They voted not to continue and I had to bribe them to do once-a-week clues for sweets this year.

Today was the start and then we'll do the next 3 Wednesdays ending on Christmas Eve.

For the inaugural day I conconcted candy sleighs and then realized that I will have to come up with bigger hiding spots this year. Luckily I'm chaining the clues, though, so mostly I'll be hiding little wax-sealed envelopes.

For all of their nonchalance about the tradition Emma pounced on the clue as soon as she walked in the door. 

EMMA: Hey Karl! Let's do the clue!

KARL: Are you reading it?

EMMA: Yeah, but you can read tomorrow's clue.

ME: Ahem? Don't you mean next Wednesday's clue?

EMMA: Oh yeah, right.


EMMA: "Measuring, cutting, sanding - such fuss! It takes stringers and struts, but mostly a ______!" OK, this definitely has something to do with my bridge project.

KARL: Is that missing word supposed to rhyme with "fuss"?

EMMA: Not necessarily.

ME: Hey! Don't my clues always rhyme?

KARL: I wouldn't say they're perfect rhymes, but they do have a lyrical quality to them.

LYRICAL QUALITY?! Chocolate-covered-brussel-sprouts for you next week, kid!

I should have reminded him of last year's rhyme of the word eucalyptus!

My clues always rhyme. 

But I digress . . . 2014_1_Clue1Find

KARL: I guess it has to be somewhere around this bridge -

EMMA: Yaughergh! (or something like that) Be careful!!!!!

Emma's Physics group slaved over those trusses all day on Sunday. The books were on top to keep them from warping while the glue was drying. They plan to complete construction tomorrow.

After carefully extracting the clue from under a book it was Karl's turn to read.


KARL: "My first is a dozen, then seven times three, next three, then a quarter, what can it be?" OK, so the numbers are 12, 21, 3 and 0.25.

ME: Point Two Five?

KARL: Yeah, a quarter. If you're being accurate.

They puzzled over this one for quite some time. Emma asked if they could have a secondary hint.

ME: It's a cipher.

They debated what that meant for a while and then Karl had an epiphany.

KARL: Maybe it's an alphabet cipher, Emma. These could be letters of the alphabet.

EMMA: OK, let's check. A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L - the first one would be L. 

She counted up on her fingers.

EMMA: Second letter U.

KARL: The third one would be C. What's the 25th letter of the alphabet?

EMMA: X. Could it be Lunch?

KARL: Lucx - does it mean Luck?

ME: Are you joking? How many letters are in the alphabet?

KARL: 26.

EMMA: Oh! The 25th letter would be Y, Karl. It's LUCY!


By the way, while they were puzzling over this clue I had heard Lucy go through the dog door and run around outside for a while. When she came in the clue was no longer on her collar so I had to go search the yard. Emma had followed me out and asked what I was doing.

ME: Never you mind.

I managed to get the clue back onto her collar before the clue was solved. After they figured out the clue Emma said "Oh, NOW I know why you were outside looking for Lucy!"


Karl, the most staunch of the "anti-Christmas Clues gang" certainly changed his tune, huh? He read the third clue.

KARL: "The move from Colorado was long; a two-day drive. We brought lots and lots of items and these are still alive."

I thought this clue might take them a while. I figured they would think it was the dogs, although we only brought one dog from Colorado (Lucy) and acquired one in Texas (Katie). So I was shocked when only a couple of seconds passed.

EMMA: I suppose it must be those plants in the dining room.


To quote The Princess Bride: "Mostly dead is slightly alive" 

It is true that these plants have seen more glorious days of long tendrils (coinciding, I believe, with regular water) but they hold on despite my black thumb.




The Oboes section in Emma's band had tee-shirts made. They say "Reed it and weep" with a dolphin with a double-reed as a nose. 

You know, band puns.

See you next week!


Lucy the Linebacker

"So what's going on with Lucy today, she has a linebacker injury?"

Two, actually.

Both knees. 

It started with just one knee, and then because she was favoring it so much (and tearing through the house barking, jumping and wrestling with Katie) she blew out the other knee as well.




We adopted Lucy from the shelter in August 2008 and they estimated that she was about 10 months old at the time. She has gray hair now (join the club!) but otherwise has aged pretty gracefully for being nearly 7 years old.

But unfortunately her summer is going to be spent having knee surgery, recovering from knee surgery and then . . . 

having knee surgery again.

While my summer will be spent paying for knee surgery, recovering from paying for knee surgery and then . . .

paying for knee surgery again.


In other news, John wanted a throwback 2012 Team USA jersey to wear during the World Cup for his Father's Day gift. The kids and I worked together to reproduce the jersey in card form as well.


Time for the game! Go Team USA!!!!!

2013 Countdown to Christmas - Day 19-20!




EMMA: "Christmas is giving, Christmas is truth, Christmas is sharing (except for the juice)" (grins) MOM!

She immediately went toward the kitchen.

KARL: (following) the juice?

EMMA: Oh, yeah. You probably haven't seen my post-it notes yet.

(she opened the refrigerator)


Two things about this photo. 

  1. She took a full apple juice out of the pantry and added it next to the 2/3 full one to claim them both. Tis the season.
  2. Her handwriting is, indeed, this atrocious when she's writing fast. 

Seriously, though, on the handwriting. At the end of last year we got a notice that she had failed her Texas standardized test in writing and had to retake it over the summer. The scores were attached and she had received a ZERO in an entire section.

US: Emma, this is really surprising. You're a great writer. Did you finish the test?

EMMA: Yes, I finished it.

ME: Was it legible? Do you think they couldn't read it?

EMMA: Well . . . they did say that you could lose points if they couldn't read it. And I wrote really small to fit it in.

US: sigh.

She has two methods of writing - big, fast and sloppy, or neat and "grab your magnifying glass" small.

On the day of the district-wide retest, I picked her up after.

ME: How was the test? Were there a lot of kids there?

EMMA: A ton.

ME: Anyone you knew?

EMMA: Yeah, a kid I know from band was there. He said "What are YOU doing here?" when he saw me. 

ME: Well it is a little surprising. Why did he fail the test?

EMMA: He said he was hung over.

ME: (shocked) Uh. . .not . . . cool. Moving on . . . did you write legibly?

EMMA: Yes.

When her retest scores came she scored a 98 or something like that. A vast improvement.

OK, back to the clues. As you can see, I taped Clue #20 to the apple juice. As they were removing it, Emma was reinforcing her claim to the juice.

EMMA: See these notes, Karl? Hands off! The apple juice is mine.

KARL: You bought it?

EMMA: No, but I claimed it.

KARL: You can't "claim" it. It's not land. You didn't conquer it. (in a mocking tone) "Oh, I am ON this land mass. Therefore I CLAIM this land mass. I OWN this land mass!"

EMMA: (grinning) Hey, you usually drink it all. It was worth a try! What's the clue say? 





OK, this was a bit of a gimme. Two engineers decorating and you're going to find little areas of matching items, like a sofa table with all the snowman decorations grouped together.

They went straight to it.



KARL: The money is in this box, Emma. Geez, Mom. A box? You hid the money in a box? 

ME: I was pressed for time.

EMMA: (examining the origami dollars) These are cute!

ME: They're rats.



We had to leave right after the clue hunts to get to appointments for the kids. In the car -

KARL: Dad, you have Siri on your phone, right?

JOHN: Yes, why?

KARL: Ask Siri "What does the fox say?"

JOHN: (presses Siri button) What does the fox say?

SIRI: We will never know. It's an ancient mystery.

Everyone laughs.

KARL: So that was worth update 7.0.2 or whatever.

JOHN: Ha! Exactly!

We entertained ourselves by asking Siri other questions, like "Why did the chicken cross the road?" and "Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"

Good times!

2013 Countdown to Christmas - Day 18!

We all survived Finals Week! Whoot! It was time to get caught up on clues.



Now my original plan for the butterflies was to hide them in the toaster. We have a four-slot toaster and I had a rhyme in my mind like "I have two dials so you can choose, crispy 5's or mushy 2's" 

But I never got around to getting the clue typed, printed, set in an envelope and sealed with wax, so each day I've been fishing the butterflies out of the toaster before the kids come down for breakfast, just in case they choose waffles. That would be a disaster because they would most likely ignite the dollars in the process, since they wouldn't think to check the toaster for money first.

This morning Emma came around the corner just as I was fishing them out of the toaster, for a third day, and although I'm not sure she saw me, I decided to change the clue anyway.

I figured they would look cool flying among the twigs in this orange vase by the front door.






KARL: I folded dollar butterflies, and hid them in plain view. You'll have to be observant, because ORANGE is your only clue.

EMMA: Do you think she means AN orange or just something orange?

KARL: Probably something orange.

They wandered through the living room looking for orange items. Notice in this photo below Katie sleeping on the couch. Lucy was trained not to be on the furniture, but when we got Katie, she had a mind of her own. Her persistence paid off and we finally gave up keeping them off the couch, but when I bought the bird chair, I said NO DOGS. No people either, as it turns out, because there is always a set of coasters or a box of Kleenex on the chair to keep the dogs off. *sigh*


As I followed the kids into the room I saw Lucy on the arm of the bird chair.

ME: Hey! Lucy! Get off that chair!!!

KARL: I don't think they care about your "Precious" Mom. 

Clearly not.

"Precious"!? Sheesh.

Maybe if they were more observant they would have noticed that the chair is orange. But they didn't. Eventually they found the dollars in the twigs.

EMMA: What are they?

ME: Butterflies.

KARL: They look more like moths.

ME: You try it.

KARL: Touche.


We also hunted Clues #19 and #20 today, and that write-up will be later. Both kids have appointments.