All posts by jessicaj11

Living with Chiari: 2 years later

Thinking about what has happened to me and the changes that have happened really makes me wonder how much my life was really effected by my Chiari. As a quick overview here are some things that have happened since my surgery.

  • I got pregnant and was for 9 months
  • Had the baby
  • Lost 58 pounds (or 33 if you don’t count the baby weight)
  • Started exercising regularly, by RUNNING
  • Ran a 5K
  • Started training for a 10K

It is a really big deal that I got pregnant and didn’t have any complication during pregnancy. That was one of the firs things my neurosurgeon asked me about at my year and a half follow up. Although, I did have a slight vision weirdness that landed me at my neurologist’s office and the ophthalmologist’s office near the end of my pregnancy. But we all decided to wait and see if it got better after I had the baby and it did.

Anyway, I did some more MRI’s and they show that they syrinx in my spinal cord has almost completely disappeared, which is excellent news. As a result, I don’t really have the tingling my hands that I was starting to have prior to the surgery, and my spinal fluids are flowing correctly now. 🙂

If you would have told me anytime before I started running that I would actually enjoy it and crave exercise, I would have told you that you were a little bit nuts. I loathed exercising ESPECIALLY running. I always felt like it was a major punishment, and perhaps it really was considering my brain’s situation. I am extremely grateful for my new found enjoyment.

Life is looking really great, and I’m so grateful we were able to do something about my Chiari and for the skilled surgeons who were able to help me.

December Round Up

Our December was awesome until we got sick

On December 1 went to Chickasha to see the lights like we do every year. It was crazy since it was only in the 60s. We had light jackets for the boys and that was it. We are used to having to bundle up with scarves, hats and gloves. We also went to Dairy Queen, since Chickasha has the closest one to us.

UntitledDuring December, Spencer has an elf friend named Christopher Popinkins who comes to visit. He’s a hide and seek elf like the elf on the shelf but MUCH less creepy looking. Spencer LOVES getting to find him every morning. It was such a fun thing to do every day.

Matthew, darling boy, mastered sitting up this month. We thought he would have learned to crawl by Christmas since he was really trying, but he hasn’t done that yet. He gave us a break in his teething until shortly before Christmas. And now he has got one of his canine teeth and has 5 teeth and is working on 6. Matthew LOVES to eat. We’ve nicknamed him Chow Hound. He seems to like everything we’ve ever given him to try. He’s reacted most negatively to avocado (Spencer’s fav as a baby) and most positively to Oatmeal baby cereal and applesauce.Untitled

The weekend of December 8th, Adam and I pawned the boys off on my parents and a friend of ours (later in the night since my parents had a party to be at), and went to a Lord of the Rings Extended edition marathon. We watched all 3 movies from 10am to 11pm. We had an hour between each movie. It was along day but a great day.

UntitledAlas, that’s about when we started getting sick. Spencer started the weekend of the 8th with yucky puffy eyes and just kept being sick until a few days after Christmas when Matthew started. Adam and I got it shortly after that. As of January 6, we are just getting to the tail end of all the sick.

The next weekend was my birthday! So, for Friday night dinner, we treked everyone down to the south side of town to my favorite Mexican restaurant. The next day, I completed my first 5K run and finished the Couch to 5K program. Then, Adam as a birthday present to me, sent me off to get my hair cut and a mani-pedi while he hung out with the kids and cleaned the house for me. It was awesome. That night, we went over to a friend’s house to play our favorite board game, Arkham Horror, dressed as our investigators. Crazy fun!

ArkhamBirthday ArkhamBirthday2ArkhamBirthday3

In the above pictures, Adam is dress as Wilson Richards, the Handy Man.  I am Ursula Downs, the explorer.  Then a few minutes after being admitted into our friends house, Justin comes knocking on the door dress was Ashcan Pete, the drifter, with his dog Duke (he’s really named Pugsley though).  🙂  In the group picture, you also see Jaidi dressed as Kate Winthrop, the scientist.  She even has her white coat labeled as Miskatonic University where Kate works.  Justin and Jaidi’s kids even had their blankets draped over their heads like the cloak of a cultist.   It was pretty fun.

The next week was crazy for us. On the 18th, Spencer had his very first Christmas program. We were so nervous how it would turn out. And it turned out about like we expected. He was completely over stimulated (so much noise, too bright lights and a little pressure) and didn’t want to sing. He cried and hide and basically threw a fit. Adam actually calmed him down enough to get him to go on stage for the last 2 songs (with Adam) but not sing. I know Spencer knew the words and the actions. His teachers told me on the days that he surprised them and actually sang with the class.

UntitledOn the 20th of December, Adam basically left us to spend the next 3 days rehearsing and performing the Joy to the World choir concert. Thursday night, he went to the South Stake Center to rehearse from 6 to 10 with Craig Jessop for the first time. The next day, they were at the Civic Center Music Hall for their “dress rehearsals” from 2 to 5 and then from 6 to 10. They preformed 2 shows on Saturday. It was an amazing experience that was very well received by the community.

My brothers and their wives came on Saturday, and we had a great week with them. Christmas was really great, and we had a wonderful time hanging out together.  there were lots of pictures taken, but they made it all the way back to Provo before anyone thought to do anything with them.  So, those will have to be a separate post.

We’ve had a great month, an awesome year and are excited to see what 2013 holds for us.

A Year in Board Gaming – Mage Knight, 2013.1


So, I’m going to attempt something ambitious this year. I will write a session report of all our board game plays that we have this year. I normally don’t write these or log my plays on which has an extensive database of just that from thousands of people. I will cross post these there, but my main motivation will simply be to keep track of everything we play.

I know this won’t be of much value to anyone who visits our blog, and that’s ok. Our blog is just as much a historical record of our family as much as an information portal for others to the goings-on of the Jeppson clan. Board games have become very important for Jessica and I as a couple. They have moved on from simply a means of entertainment and a way to pass to time. Now, we learn about each other through them. We work together on common goals in some games. We learn how to better engage in conflict with each other. And we simply, well, learn together. Well-designed games will teach you something. Whether it be math, economics, game-theory, or whatever, we are learning together, and that is wonderful.

Ok, so our first game of the year was Mage Knight on Jan. 4.

Continue reading A Year in Board Gaming – Mage Knight, 2013.1

4 years old and 6 months old for nearly a month!

So, I’ve been a little bit of a slacker about getting these things posted and getting pictures taken of my darling boys, but with the help of my mom and my husband.  I was able to get some good pictures of both boys over a couple weeks.

4yoShare1 Let’s start with the big ole birthday boy Spencer.  He turned 4 this month!!  It’s seems to crazy that I have a 4 year old, but I do.  He is crazy funny, and sometimes a little frustrating.  He is the best big brother and most of the time his a great helper for his mommy.

Some important things that have happened to Spencer this last year:

  • He learned how to use the potty. Yeah!
  • He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome
  • He became a big brother
  • He rode a roller coaster for the first time
  • He started school (Pre-Pre-K)

His 4 year old well child check up results:

  • Height: 3’8″ (44 inches) – 99%
  • Weight: 40.6 lbs – 82%

4yoShare3 We recently did a little interview.  Here are his answers:

What is your name: Spencer
How old are you? (holds up 4 fingers and after some prodding) 4
What is your favorite color? slimy things (our most recent batch of slime is green, but I’m pretty sure his favorite color is orange).
Who is your best friend? Nehemiah (a new friend from school)
Favorite animal? sheep
What do you want to be when you’re all grown up? a dragon
What is your favorite movie? [Curious] George, the show not the movie. The George movie is scary.
What is your favorite book? the dragon book (not sure what book this is, but I’m pretty sure his favorites are Curious George books).
What makes you happy? Curious George
What makes you sad? the spinning thing at Crest (a Christmas inflatable that has a spinning bar type thing)
What is your favorite food? sandwich (plain peanut butter with not jelly or crust, cut into 2 rectangles or triangles)
What is your favorite song? a pretend song (he’s not really a fan of singing or other singing. But has been making up nonsense songs that entertain Matthew)
What games do you like? the teleporter one (It’s called Jetpacks. He also is rather good at Bad Piggies and Where’s my Water)

Here’s some pictures from his birthday:


He got a marble track which is LOVES and some Imaginets (shaped magnets that you build pictures out of).  He also got plenty of clothes, but we were trying to only get him a couple toys that we knew he’d like and actually play with.  It seems to have worked this time.

Now on to my little cutie, Matthew.  He’s six months only now.  It’s  a little crazy how he just fits and it seems like he’s always been here.  When I think about the time before we had Matthew, it almost feels like something is missing, ALMOST.  It wasn’t at that point, but anyway.


At six months, Matthew is a really happy kid. Some important things that have happened to him recently:

  • He’s learned how to roll over
  • He prefers to sleep on his tummy
  • He loves to jump in his jumper or play in his exersaucer
  • He LOVES to eat. We like to call him a Chow Hound
  • His favorite foods include: Pears, Bananas, Sweet Potato, Oatmeal and Momma Milk
  • Started November with no teeth, but finished it with 4!

Matthew’s Six Month Statics
Height: 28 inches – 92%
Weight: 19lbs 1/2oz – 75%
Head size: 43.5 cm – 50%

And for the best part. More pictures of the little cutie.

I thought this would be interesting to see side by side. Brothers. Aren’t they cute?

Board Game Geek Convention!

Adam and I were fortunate enough to be able to drive down to Dallas the week before Thanksgiving attend to attend the annual Board Game Geek Convention (BGG Con).  What does one DO at a board game convention.  Well, you play board games!  Lots of board games.  Not like Yahtzee or Parcheesi or anything like that.  We played games like ones that have already made appearances on the blog.  🙂  I’ll give you a synopsis of our trip and the games we played.  But I will tell you, we had the best time, and would love to be able to go back next year.

Day 1, Thursday November 15
First, on our way down, we ALWAYS stop at Dairy Queen since the closest one to us is at least an hour away.  We miss Dairy Queen.  It reminds us of our dating and newly wed days in Rexburg.


When we got to the hotel, it was too early to check into our room. So we went and checked into the convention, and we each were given 4 games from the prize shelves. Thank goodness we had a car that we could deposit those games in and so we could look around free of the burden of carrying games.


We then went into the main gaming room.


And found a players needed flag and were taught how to play Hoo Yah! It wasn’t our favorite game, but it wasn’t bad. The interesting thing about this game was the man who taught it never looked at me (Jessica) while explaining the rules. EVERYTHING was directed at Adam. He seemed a little shocked every time I spoke or had a question or idea. He got used to me by the end, but it was a little funny.

Game: Hooyah!
Result: WIN
Played by: Marvin, Chris, Adam and Jessica

After a break to check into our room and take care of nursing momma business, we played Argicola: All Creatures Great and Small.


This is a two player game, so it was just us. We got the game from the library, and sat down at a table to learn the rules since Adam was already kinda familiar with them. We bought this game at the Con. It’a good one, we ended up buying it.

Game: Argicola
Result: Adam: 47 Jessica: 32
Played by: Us

After that we were a little hungry and didn’t want to brave the traffic (we were at an airport hotel and there was TONS of construction). So, we hopped on the shuttle that was proved to take people to off-site restaurants and such. There was quite a humorous conversation on the trip out about how gamers would make better city players than actually city planners. But we reached the conclusion that using the starvation strategy would probably be a little harsh, and perhaps we should stick to worker placement games. 🙂

After dinner, back on the bus, we ran into another couple, Scott and Susan, we rode out with. They turned out to be from Oklahoma City as well. And we had a nice conversation. We went to the library and got Dungeon Lords and the new expansion we were excited to try. But we ran into Scott and Susan and ended up teaching them how to play Dungeon Lords. It was great fun. Dungeon Lords is just fun, but a bit complicated alone without adding the expansion into it. Only a little bummed we didn’t get to play that. It’s always more fun to play with more people when you can.

Game: Dungeon Lords
Played by: Scott, Susan, Adam and Jessica
Results: Adam and Susan tied for the win, Jessica and Scott were so pitful it didn’t merit recording their scores.

That was our last game for the day, and we went to bed.

Day 2, Friday, November 16th

We woke up rather leisurely, and that was great for us not having kids wake us up. We left and went out to breakfast and to visit the Dallas Ikea. It’s a good thing we took Adam’s car and didn’t have room to bring home some of the stuff I was eying.

We got back in time to do a couple things. We attended the Escape Experience where we learned how to play Escape! and get a chance to win some cool stuff.

Game: Escape
Played by Adam, Jessica and 3 other people
Result: WIN

And then we headed up to grab our Arkham Horror game and set up for our epic 7 player game of Arkham. We were teaching 2 people and 2 of our players had dropped out and we were down to expecting 5. Well, we had two players wander by and ask to play too. AWESOME!


Now this is not a short game with 4 people. With 7, it should have taken around 4 to 5 hours to play. It took us 2. It was the EASIEST game of Arkham we have ever played. It was a little ridiculous. Everyone was getting the rolls they needed and beating everything.


Game: Arkham Horror
Played by: Shawn, Gerry, Jessica, Clint, Ken, Gordon and Adam
Result: WIN


After grabbing something to eat, we found some one with a players needed flag and learned how to play Courtier and Love Letter from another Scott. I enjoyed both games, but don’t think we’ll be adding them t

o our collection soon. Well, maybe Love Letter. It’s a really easy filler game to cleanse the palate between games.

Game: Courtier (2x)
Played by Scot, Adam and Jessica
Results: Scot 1 win, Adam 1 win


After that, we ventured into the Hot Games room. This is the room where the latest games that have been released are always set up with people teaching how to play them. In here, we played a very pretty gam

e called Tokadio. It’s a track game, and you’re trying to make it to the end of the track making as many stops as you can. It was fun. The people we played with were hard to understand, but I won!!

Game Tokaido
Played by Mirasol, Steven, Adam and Jessica
Result: Jessica -83 Adam – 82

After a quick breather and dinner at Applebees (after which we swore we would not leave the airport in our car during rush hour again!) We went browsing the games library and found one of our favorite games, Lord of the Rings PLUS an expansion, Friends and Foes, we’ve been wanting to try. We checked it out, grabbed a players wanted sign and went about setting it up. We got two players, Erik and other Adam (as he was called later on), and had a very pleasant time teaching them how to play and getting beaten down by Sauron. In the end, all the Hobbits died and Sam (the last hobbit left) made it halfway through Shlob’s Lair by himself.


Game: The Lord of the Rings
Expansion: Friends and Foes
Adam: Sam
Erik: Frodo
Jessica: Merry
Other Adam: Pippin
Result: Lost

After our grim defeat, we called it a night.

Day 3, Saturday November 17th

We got up pretty early, had breakfast and made a new friend in the process. Alas, I don’t remember his name, but he was by himself behind us in line for the breakfast buffet. We invited him to come sit with us when we got a table so he could get to the flea market in a decent amount of time too.

After breakfast, we went to the flea market. WOW! That was a mass of people and lots of money changing hands quickly. We found a couple games of some friends, and we were done there.


Stashing their stuff in our car, we then wandered into the main game room and found a couple poeple looking for players. We play 3 games with them.

The first was called Bohnanza. It’s basically a trading and collecting game. Adam did not like this game at all. He doesn’t like bidding games like that at all.

Game: Bohnanza
Kate 12
Elisa 17
Ian 16
Jessica 15
Adam 13

Then Kate left, and we player Shadows over Camelot. It’s a crazy memory game. Not my strong suit right now, and it doesn’t work out well when someone is SUPPOSED to the a traitor. We did end up winning though. 🙂

Game: Shadows Over Camelot
Elisa: Traitor
Results: Win

Lastly, we played Love Letter a few times. It’s a small card game where you are constantly trying to find the princess or a roll that is higher than yours. It’s pretty fun. Very short, very fast.

Love Letter
Ian won 2 games
Elisa won 1 game
Adam won 1 game
Jessica won 0 games

After that we had our 2 hours shift working in the game library. It was SO much fun. I loved being able to talk with people about what they were checking in and out. There were a few people who actually benefited from me knowing about a game. 🙂 We even ended up having to sort out a game that got mixed with it’s expansion. It was a really fast two hours, and it was great fun.

This is a shot of one side of the games library. It was amazing how many games there were.

When I shift ended, we decided to eat relatively big lunch/dinner so we didn’t have to worry about it during the prize giveaway later.

After lunch/dinner, we got the game The Road to Canterbury. I was not a fan. I think I just didn’t really like the theme of it and the mechanics were just weird to me. This just wasn’t my game. Adam had read the rules before, but wasn’t extremely well versed, so we were kind of learning on the fly and that didn’t make things any easier for me liking the game.

The point of the game is for us to tempt travelers making their way to Canterbury with on of the Seven deadly sins. Your goal is to get sinners to sin themselves to death, but you can forgive a sinners sins along the way (but you really only do it to give yourself a tactical advantage). In the end, I did win. Woo! I’m the best tempter… ::reads sarcastically::

Game: The Road to Canterbury
Adam: 131
Jess: 132 <–win

After that, we were both in a sour mood. So I went to pick out a “light” game to wash the bad taste out of our mouths. I came back with Yggdrasil, not a light game. But we were both a little more enthused about it since we’d played it on iOS before and felt like we could handle it.


As we were setting up, Other Adam (from the LOTR game the night before) ran into us, and we asked him if he wanted to join. He agreed and we played. We had to pause mid game for the awards and giveaway, during which we didn’t win anything, and we thought we had things well in hand when one of the Enemy Norse Gods moved across a threshold we weren’t paying attention to, and we very suddenly and anticlimactically lost.

Game: Yggdrasil
Players: Adam, Jessica and Other Adam
Result: LOSS

After we cleaned up this game, Other Adam brought out a game called Coup which is similar to Love Letter in that you have a role card and you are trying to be the last person standing. The difference is you have to use money to do things instead of the influence of the person on your card.

Game: Coup
Players: Adam, Jessica and Other Adam
Result: Adam 1 and Other Adam 1

After this game, Adam and I went and got Taluva. We headed up to the room so I could take care of Mommy-type business while Adam learned the rules. It’s a fairly simple game so it didn’t take long. Then we took it back down the main gaming room, grabbed a players needed sign, and started setting up. We got two other people to play with us, Linda and Norman.


Taluva is a tile laying and a space crowding game. You lay out a tile and then expand your settlements. The cool thing about this game is that you get to build up as well as out. The goal is to lay out a certain number of certain types of buildings. The game ends when one person has placed 3 of their temples. Linda beat us all.

Game: Taluva
Players: Adam, Jessica, Linda and Norman
Results: Linda 1
Adam 2
Jessica 3
Norman 4

We cleaned everything up and then grabbed Samurai and headed back up the room to play in the quiet. Samurai is a game about laying out influence around an island to gain rice patties, Buddhas or towers. In the end, I won by ONE rice patty! It’s a fun little strategy game. I liked it.

Game: Samurai
Players: Adam and Jessica
Results: Jessica, by one rice patty!



Sunday, November 18th

The next day, we returned the game and headed back to reality. It was a great way to spend a few days doing our favorite thing. We will be going back. It was pretty awesome.

Here’s what we ended our trip with game-wise. We bought a few games while we were there too. 😉


30 in 45 – Games amid the quest for the ring

While we were playing the Lord of the Rings card game, we did take some breaks and play other games, especially on nights when the kids got to be late or we had other things going on.

October 4 – Way of the Dragon
A: 5
J: 7 -> WIN!

This is a fun, take-along dice game that we explain is “Chinese Yathzee.” You move your pieces along a track in conjunction with the number of that symbol. It’s fun and can be pretty strategic as far as dice games go.Untitled

Adam started out strong with this game rolling one of every symbol on the very first try which got all his pieces on the board in a hurry. He actually rolled that 4 or 5 times during the game, but it wasn’t nearly as beneficial as the first one.

I just played my game, and managed to roll all of one symbol (which we hadn’t done yet). I ended up just getting all my pieces into the score rows before Adam could get more than a couple in the scoring zone. So, I won out.

October 11th – Dungeon Lords
A: 20 <–WIN
J: 8

Adam was the more fearful Dungeon Lord by a LONG shot this game. While Jessica was the Lord of Dark Deeds (was the highest in the evil-meter), Adam claimed more single titles than her making him the be winner. He had a room in his dungeon that increased the number of points he got for single titles.

Jessica played a respectable game. She let her evil level go unchecked early in the game and attracted the attention of the first year Paladin. While she defeated the Paladin and two other adventurers, one scrapped away with his life barely intact. And it left her dungeon with a few too many conquered tiles and made for a rough second year.

October 12th – Elder Sign
Investigators: WIN!
A: Jenny Barnes
Je: Amanda Sharp
Ju: Ashcan Pete
Ja: Bob Jenkins

Elder Sign is a dice rolling game that is set in our favorite universe of Arkham. Our investigators are in a museum trying to collect enough elder signs to prevent an ancient one from awaking and taking over the world. You roll dice and use the results to complete adventures and gain items and elder signs.

We were fortunate enough to be able to play this when we were having game night with our friends Justin and Jaidi.

We really had this game easily in hand the whole time. The doom track only had 3 or 4 tokens on it. We all seemed to have really hot dice this game and just cranked it out. So, we decided to plan another game too.

October 12th – Tobago
A: Yellow ATV: 17
Je: Blue ATV: 25
Ju: Red ATV: 23
Ja: Green ATV: 26

We all played a really good game tonight. This victory came down to the very last treasure that Adam and Justin had absolutely NO part in. Jaidi knew there were 2 treasures with 6 points each in the pool and she had 2 shots at time. So, she waited and passed on a 5 point treasure that Jessica got. It was a very good thing too since she won by 1 point. 🙂

So the days in between these games were actually game free. We had a lot of life and other things needing our attention that we couldn’t find time to play. So our end is a little anti-climatic, but we did finish. It feels a little forced though, but fun.

October 18th – Can’t Stop -iOS (2 rounds)

Round 1
Adam WON!

Round 2
Jessica WON!

This is a new iPad game we got that is based on the board game Can’t Stop. It’s a dice rolling, press your luck kind of game. The goal is to get 3 of your pieces from one side of the board to the other. You move your pieces based on the way you roll and pair the dice. Some of the rows in the board are smaller since getting those results are a lot less likely. It’s a great game for parties since it is easy to pick up and plays quickly. Since it is a game of almost total luck, it’s easy to lose and fun to win.

October 20th – Ticket To Ride iOS
Adam: 153 Jessica: 85

Adam totally knocked it out of the park. He got a bunch of routes that were crazy high scoring. When he laid down the train that marked the final round, he left Jessica in the cold needing one more purple car that would have completed 2 of her high scoring routes, which would have been a MUCH closer final score.

October 21st – Forbidden Island iOS
Results: WIN!

I honestly don’t remember much about this game in particular. But I do remember that we did find all the treasure, and we escaped from the island as it feel apart around us feeling a little bit like Indiana Jones. I also remember us saying the world should thank us for recovering these priceless artifacts from being lost forever.

October 21 – Elder Sign iOS
Results: Win

We won this one, but at a cost. We battled with Cthulhu and this is the first time we have one it. The way Cthulhu plays is a little different than other ancient ones. After obtaining a certain number (I don’t remember what it was), we traveled by boat around the sea until we had enough investigation icons to raise Cthulhu and battle him. We got it done, but Adam lost his life in the process. I was able to pull it out in the end thanks to Jenny Barnes awesome ability to get both bonus dice when using items instead of just one.

Again, we felt like the world should thank us for saving it from the unspeakable horrors. World, you’re welcome. 😀

Days Left: 0 Games Played: 30

Living with an Aspie: Primary Programs and routines

This is Spencer helping me out by posing for me. Doesn’t really apply to the topic at hand, but I wanted to include a picture of my silly guy.

We recently had our Primary Program, and boy was it an experience.  It is nerve wracking for all the Sunbeam (3 year old, first timers) parents, but there is a whole other level for us.  So, we had been practicing Spencer’s part for a month!  He learned it the first Sunday we got it, and he had it down.

We would ask him what his part was in the Primary program randomly throughout the weeks leading up to it, and he totally knew it and it wouldn’t be a shock to be asked to say it.  What didn’t occur to us (or at least to me, Jessica) was that when he was asked to go up to the stand, and participate in the program during Sacrament meeting would be a SERIOUS disruption in his routine.  Apparently, we had one that I wasn’t consciously aware of.

When it was time to go up with the rest of the kids, Adam took Spencer with him since Adam is the Primary pianist and had to be there too.  Adam handed Spencer off to his teacher, and Spencer proceeded to meltdown and cry.  I was a little surprised since I had prepared myself for a different reaction completely.  After some convincing, his wonderful teacher got him to sit down by her and distracted him with her cell phone and various other things throughout the program.

Spencer didn’t participate at all.  He didn’t stand up when the other kids did to sing, he didn’t do anything.  When it was his turn to give his part (Grandpa recorded it on the sly), he got up and needed help from the Primary President who was right by him with the script.  And you couldn’t understand a word he said.

He said, “I can be kind to others by sharing the bad guy car.”

After this though, he had gotten a taste of being in the spotlight, and boy he liked it.  After this point, he settled into full on performance mode.  He was up in the front whenever it was time to sing and he lead the music with the song leaders, which is a VAST improvement over shooting bad guys and throwing bombs which he has done in the past.  He also got a little wild and it was terribly difficult for him to want to sit down after that.  Thankfully, his part was at the end (ish) of the program.

I noticed in the week following a rather major disruption of the normal routine (the primary program), he was thrown off in other places.  He had a harder week at school, especially the first day, and he fought with us a lot more.  It just goes to show me how incredibly important all the little routines we have are important.

I always felt like I needed to be more structured at home to establish really set routines, but apparently we have patterns that we follow all the time just to keep the peace.  And if your throw part of it off balance, he has a hard time recovering.

30 in 45 – Tales from Middle-Earth Edition; wherein we meet TROLL

We’re going to try to play this in rapid succession each night and build some quality decks. We’ve purchased the first four expansions, and if we get good enough and enjoy it, maybe we’ll continue buying the mini expansions. It has a lot of potential, so I hope it works out.

Lord of the Rings The Card Game
Scenario: The Old Forest Road
A: Lore and Tatics -> Win
J: Spirit and Leadership -> Win

Report: This is a co-operative deck building game. Think Magic: The Gathering goes on a field trip to Middle Earth and everyone gets scared by Sauron and bands together instead of playing against each other. You get a few heroes (like Aragorn, Bilbo, Boromir, etc.) from four different spheres of influence (we each played two spheres as noted in the results). I played with Legolas (tactics), Denethor (yes, the coward is a hero in this game), and a made-up elf named Beravor (lore). Jessica played Aragorn (leadership), Prince Imrahil (leadership), and Eowyn (spirit).

Since we hadn’t played this in a LONG time, we decided to do the easiest quest to reacquaint ourselves. It was pretty non-eventful and easy, but my favorite part of my group was when I put a Burning Brand attachment on Denethor. It effectually made him untouchable when defending such that he was able to tame the Beastmaster (a real thing). Legolas picked off many, many enemies from afar. Jessica’s Eowyn was Caught in a Web for nearly the whole game but still managed to navigate us through the locations with ease.

Our game set up after a particularly devastating loss.
Custom insert
Our custom built box insert to organize our questing
Storage for tokens made out of legos
It’s made to look like the All Seeing Eye

The ensuing games
9/27 The Old Forest Road: Win
9/28 Down the River Anduin: Loss
10/1 Down the River Anduin: Loss
10/2 Down the River Anduin: Loss, but a win after consulting the rules
10/5 Escape from the Dead Marshes: Win
10/5 Hills of Emyn Muil: Loss
10/8 Hills of Emyn Muil: Win

The games started to flow together in our minds after the first one, so here is a summary of what has happened to us thus far. For all the remaining games, Jessica played her Spirit/Leadership deck with some minor changes along the way, and I played the Lore/Tactics deck. I love me some eagles.

Anyway, we played The Old Forest Road to get a feel for some deck adjustments and new heroes and won handily again. After all, it’s just an Old Forest Road after all. How badly can things go just walking down a road?

Down the River Anduin was another story altogether. The plot of the scenario is such that it continues where the previous scenario (Old Forest Road) left off. We were carrying a message to Lothlorien, and we came to the banks of the river Anduin. The plan was simple: Get in some boats, float to Lothlorien and deliver the message. Yeah, it’s funny how naive Middle-Earth people can be. Before we even got to the banks of the river, a TROLL ambushed us. Please notice I capitalized TROLL because there is nothing lower-case about him. No problems right? We’d just throw everyone at him and be on our way. That would work just fine except for when the TROLL invited his friend Chieftain Ufthak (of the Morgul Orcs) and a Marsh Adder. The three hardest enemy cards in the deck. Yay. We died a quick death.

Isn’t he cute?

Ok, Down the River Anduin, take two. Heading towards the bank, and a wild TROLL appears! Not a surprise because that is how the scenario always starts.  What is a surprise is that he brought his twin BROTHER.  TROLL and BROTHER TROLL beat upon us but Gimli and company were able to fight them off and get into the boats.  Unfortunately, the crew was so beaten down that they could not withstand the harrying of the enemies on the riverbanks.  We were so pitiful.

TAKE THREE!  You know how it goes by now: River bank, TROLL and then, well, that’s it.  No one else helped the troll this time, and we were able to get onto the river much faster.  Without many enemies on the banks, we moved quickly down the river. When we reached our destination, we found a welcoming party of a less-than-friendly demeanor.  We found their numbers to be too great and did not successfully break through. Woe was us. Much despair was found in House Jeppson.

But alas, after putting away the game, I (Adam) was not satisfied with the rules interpretation that led to so many enemies at our destination. I won’t bore you with the details of play-order and how certain abilities prevented other abilities, but the end result was that we should have prevented the last two enemies from appearing. They also happened to be the hardest enemies.  We would have been able to handle the others easily, so we counted it a win. I know, I know, the cowards way out. Better a coward than facing TROLL again.

Next Scenario! The Hills of Emyn Muil.  We actually skipped the next few scenarios in the plot order because we wanted to play some we hadn’t played before. Basically, we spent a few scenarios hunting Gollum, and it led us to the Hills of Emyn Muil. This scenario required us to explore a LOT of locations. The challenge is that you can’t leave many of your characters available to handle enemies.  Our first try at this became far too challenging. My Tactics-heavy deck didn’t have enough power to explore locations, and Gollum got away.

Our next playthrough found me revamping my deck to feature a lot more Lore cards with the power to make exploration easier.  Jessica also did the same with her Spirit deck, and we knocked this one down quickly.  Her Rohan riders were all over the country side, and I found a ton of Secret Paths that let us move more quickly.  Gollum didn’t stand a chance against our speed.  We showed him “the meaning of haste”.  (Sadly, Shadowfax is not yet a card we can play. <crossing fingers>)

Ok, last scenario, Escape from the Dead Marshes! We sort of caught Gollum in the Dead Marshes but were now tasked with finding our way out. Not an easy (or pleasant) task. You might remember the Dead Marshes from the The Two Towers with all the dead soldier bodies. Anyway, we had to move quickly, and we did. It was pretty anti-climactic because we just threw everything we had at exploration and got really, really lucky. Two turns was all it took us.  About 10 minutes, and we had done it. I can see how this scenario could be difficult, but it wasn’t for us this time.

Next time, we will attempt to bring Gollum back to Mirkwood for interrogation. Will we succeed? Will we meet TROLL again? Tune in next time to Tales from Middle-Earth!

Days Left: 13 Games Played: 22

Living with an Aspie: Best. Teacher. EVER.

Spencer has been absolutely LOVING school, which is a great big HUGE relief for me.  In talking with his teacher, I totally understand why.  She has gone above and beyond what we ever expected, and we are so very grateful.  We have been incredibly blessed to find a teacher who is willing to adapt a little bit and take care of my darling boy.  As a result, he’s making huge progress socially and can’t wait to go to school.  This attitude is so contrary to a lot of other Aspie’s school experiences, and we are so happy.

Before Spencer started school I sent his teacher an email about Asperger’s and things that Spencer goes through.  She asked my permission to share some of the information with the other parents and kids so they can understand Spencer and help him.  I was all for it, and said sure.  About a week ago, the parents got the following email:

Dear Families

Wanted to share some information with you about one of the friends in our class.  Our friend Spencer has Aspergers Syndrome, which is part of the Autism spectrum.  (This medical diagnosis has actually been combined with the medical diagnosis High Functioning Autism or HFA)  Spencer’s Mom, Jessica, has sent me some information to share with the parents of his classmates.

Children often come home and tell stories about their friends.  I felt it was important that you have accurate information about our friend, Spencer so that you could help your child with ways to be a good friend to him, as well as everyone else.  We have spoken about Spencer having Aspergers in class and have watched an Arthur episode (season 13, episode 6) that actually does a pretty good job explaining about a friend named Carl that has Aspergers. (This episode is available on Youtube and Netflix, if you would like to watch it with your child again).  However, being preschoolers I don’t know that they will fully grasp what Aspergers means, but they can understand that we are all different and Spencer’s needs are going to be different from theirs.

This is some of the information Jessica shared and ways we are encouraging our friends to be good friends to each other.

People with Aspergers:

— Have good language skills, but they have difficulty telling others how they feel and what they need -(All our friends are working on using our words to tell others our needs.  For example, “When you are finished with that toy, can I have a turn?”  We are encouraging our friends to tell Spencer, “When I am finished you can have it.”)

–Are very literal – may not understand when people are joking or upset.

–May have a hard time listening and taking instruction because they tend to get overly focused on something they are doing (At circle time Spencer may not always join us, he will sit in a chair behind us or at one of the tables – he can hear us better over there.  This can be hard for friends to understand why they are not allowed to do the same.  I just tell them that I know they hear just fine on the carpet square, but Spencer NEEDS to hear better over there.)

–May only talk about their favorite subject (Spencer loves robots and Curious George) – (Most of our friends like robots and Curious George, too, so this has worked very well for everyone, especially at snack time)

–They may want to take part in games or activities, but may not know how to do this.  (We encourage our friends to show Spencer how to do things – several friends are actually very good at this and very patient!)

One last thing to mention, which is a side note from [me] (Mom of child with Down Syndrome)- people first language is very important when speaking of others. [My daughter] has Down syndrome, but she is NOT JUST a Down syndrome child.  There is so much more to people than a diagnosis.  She happens to also be a great dancer, a soccer player, book lover, and a fantastic friend to others. I encourage you to use people first language. It really helps others see past the disability and get a good look at the abilities.

I have been very pleased with how well our class has so quickly become a unit.  Friendships are forming.  We stress that we are ALL friends in our class, we take turns, we respect each other, encourage each other and celebrate each other. Our friends have been very accepting of everyone in our class.  Thanks for your help with encouraging your child to be a good friend to others!  If you have any questions, please ask away!

I was so blown away at how she has handled Spencer in her classroom without disrupting the other kids too.  I know that I would not have been able to handle something like that very well when I was teaching.  I feel so blessed to have found someone who seems to appreciate Spencer as much as I do.  He adds so much to our lives, and I’m glad he’s adding to a classroom as well.

30 in 45 – We’re at it again!

We were recently re-reading our old blog post from our last adventure into the 30 in 45, and thought we were incredibly entertaining and wanted to do it again. We started into it on September 6th. We are due to finish on Sunday, October 21st.

The challenge I see us having this time is there are more things we are wanting to do at night rather than just watch TV. I am currently indexing about 20 names a night and trying to exercise at least 4 nights a week. (For more information on what indexing is click HERE) and Adam has some new computer games that are vying for his attention as well. We’ve already missed some nights, but here’s what we have so far.

September 6th – Dungeon Lords
Session Results:
Jessica: 6
Adam: 4

We were testing out this game again. We hadn’t played it for a while, and someone had offered to trade Adam for another game. He wanted to make sure we didn’t like it anymore by playing it a few times in quick succession (for the record, we like it.) We started playing a little late since the boys got to bad a little late, and Matthew was having a little bit of a rough night.

We only played the first year of our dungeon building. And I can’t really remember much about it after that. In the end, I was able to dig more tunnels and get more imps which gave me more unshared titles than Adam, and I was able to win by a couple. The lesson we walked away with: Always be able to pay your taxes! It will get you in the end if you don’t.

September 7th – Dungeon Lords
Jessica: 24
Adam: 16

We got it set up and playing a lot faster. We went through the first year a lot faster than the night before. Jessica dug a lot of tunnels and had a lot more rooms working for her than Adam. When the adventurers braved our dungeons, they were able to conquer all of Adam’s 3 tunnels and one room before one escaped by the skin of his teeth. Jessica’s dungeon faired better, and she had 1 tunnel conquered and no adventurers ever saw the light of another day.

The second year, we realized why the game was going so easily for us, and why we were getting more monsters than we remembered. Apparently, you’re supposed to pay the monster upon hiring them, NOT just on pay day. This really cut down on our hiring of monsters and made us use our resources a little better.

When the adventurers made it in, Adam’s dungeon faired MUCH better than the year before and better than Jessica’s this year. He was able to defeat all the adventurers quickly. Jessica took a couple more rounds, but was able to defeat them all too. In the end, it was that first year that really took it’s toll on Adam’s score, and Jessica pulled out the win.

Adam’s notes:  Jessica really knows how to be an evil dungeon lord!  I don’t know how she does it, but every time I turned around she was one-upping me.  This game seems to be growing on us.  I nearly traded it away, but right now I’m glad I did not.

September 8th – Thurn and Taxis
Jessica: 7
Adam: 31 <-Win

This was not Jessica’s night. Adam put together an absolutely BEAUTIFUL route of 10 cities that got him into nearly every province very early in the game. Jessica lost a route since she took a gamble and it bit her in the keister. Adam got a lot more of the bonuses and got rid of all his houses before Jessica was even close. As a result, she lost about half her points.  Adam’s notes: This always seems to be a game I can do really well at.  I think it is just because you don’t have much to keep track of, but either way, I find it a joy to play.

September 9th – Small World
Jessica: 77
Adam: 92

With this game, Adam observed some trends that seem to happen quite frequently. The berserker race power isn’t as cool as you initially think it will be, and it ends up with trolls a lot more often than not. The biggest realization we had was that we’d been playing it wrong for quite some time.

Apparently, when one of your areas is conquered, you don’t lose all your pieces. You only lose ONE of the pieces that was defending your area. We’d been losing all our pieces, and as a result Adam COMPLETELY pummeled Jessica’s trolls and drove them to decline after one turn!! It was kind of a turning point for the game, but it was still fun.

September 12th – Pandemic
A & J: WIN!
Disease: conquered

When we started, the set up looked pretty good. Only one of the four diseases was really going rampant, things didn’t look so good for Asia. We kept trying to get things under control, and just as we would get close the city we were almost ready to treat would come up again and we’d have a major out break on our hands. That happened about 6 or 7 times, and just before the world was about to succumb to disease and explode, we were able to cure all the diseases. Thus, we saved the world last night. You’re welcome world! 🙂

September 14th – Race for the Galaxy
J: 58 <– Win
A: 48

Report from Adam:
This was a really lucky game of drawing for Jessica. She pursed the alien technologies, and she drew card after card of alien cards. In the end, she was able to draw a 6 cost development that SERIOUSLY capitalized all her alien cards, and she pulled out a pretty handy win.

I was pretty frustrated with her win since the last time we played Jessica won with fewer points than I lost by this time.  She did seem pretty pleased with herself as she did a victory dance.  I  even got some great synergy going, but Jessica managed to play the right cards.

September 16th – Endeavor
J: 67
A: 69

This game is an interesting game. You can’t ever really know how you’re doing (unless you’re THAT obsessive about keeping track of points in your head) until the very end. Although Adam won, Jessica was not that far behind. She was bumming about halfway through the game when she saw that Adam was REALLY working up his point tracks.

In wise move of drawing buildings, she grabbed a card that allowed her to draw 2 cards on her turn. So, she drew cards that really upped her point tracks and put her in a position to win. But alas, Adam had managed to pull out the win.

The strange thing about this game, we didn’t put ourselves in a position to attack the other or the neutral player ever. We also had every space on the board occupied. We’ve never done that before either. All around, we had a great game.

Days Left: 35   Games Played: 7