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Every now and then I am a little embarrassed at how I spend my time.

I’m a busy guy, most days. When I’m not working for my employer, or parenting, or involved in things with church, I sometimes work on side projects, most of them on a volunteer basis. Every now and then I take on some extra work that brings in additional cash, but even then it is hard to find the time, and projects languish.

Yet somehow I always seem to find time to play computer games. Lately, I’ve been playing Bookworm, a Boggle-like computer game that I bought for Kathy more than two years ago. Kathy (or maybe one of the kids) recently re-discovered it, and we’ve all been playing (even David and Sarah offer helpful suggestions). It is a very fun, and addictive single-player game. Significantly, we’ve not been requiring Computer Game Chips for this particular game, since it is, er, ‘educational’ in nature.

Bookworm Game
It is a very affirming game, announcing ‘Excellent!’ or ‘Astonishing!’ when you find a high-scoring word.

When I say it is a “single-player” game, I’m not being entirely accurate — Kathy and I have become the tiniest bit competitive as we vie for the highest score or level, or the longest word. “Hey, look at this!” Kathy chortles. “I’ve got ‘BLUDGEON’ — what a great word!” Joshua and Rachel rush over and nod approvingly.

“Hmmph,” I snort, miffed that the kids cheer Kathy. “That’s really not much better than my ‘ABANDON’. What’s one little letter, between family members?” Daniel smirks at my pathetic attempt to upstage Kathy’s word. “Fantastic!” the game crows, as she completes the word.

Not one to tolerate a slight, I switch gears to the other new game I’ve been playing: Knighthood. An application that runs within Facebook, it is a somewhat silly game in which you begin life as a Squire and work your way up the feudal ladder by constructing fortifications, recruiting vassals, and attacking your neighbors. I’m still in the ‘building’ stage, fearing to make the transition to ‘War Mode’, but I’ve happily recruited nearly all my ‘friends’ from Facebook to play. (Yep, all three of them.)

Some of them sidle up to Kathy at church. “I got this weird message from Tim — apparently I’m some sort of a … vassal?”

Kathy rolls her eyes, martyr to geekdom that she is. “Yes, he’s all in a tizzy about it. His cousin Kevin introduced him to the game, and it’s been nothing but ‘Knighthood this’ and ‘Knighthood that’, ever since. Just humor him, add the application, and he’ll be happy. I’d draw the line if he starts calling you a ‘varlet’ or a ‘wench’, though.”

Knighthood Logo
The Knighthood Logo

If my unsuspecting recruits accept my invitation, and add the Knighthood application to their profile, they become Knights (or Ladies) and are worth twice as much to me as when they were lowly Squires (or Handmaidens). Otherwise, after 14 days of servitude, they leave my court, and I have to recruit ‘em all over again. Presumably, if I keep bombarding all my ‘friends’ with Knighthood invitations, they’ll either add it to their profile or put me on permanent ‘ignore’.

Baron Tim
Wouldn’t you want to be a vassal to this Baron?

I’m currently a Baron, and serve as liege to seven or eight Knights and Ladies and a whole passel of Squires and Handmaidens. I’ve got to stay ahead of ‘em in rank, or they can win their freedom (and I’ll have no one to work in my castle buildings). It is a strange game, entirely virtual, played against strangers, yet (at least in ‘Peace Mode’) rather passive.

Two potential vassals
There’s nothing passive about these two potential vassals.

Days can go by with nothing really happening in your kingdom, if you’re in the middle of a large building or upgrading project. And yet the game has a certain charm. Many of us, who grew up reading stories of the middle ages, yearn for a time of Chivalry, Honor and Glory. Here in the game of Knighthood, I can arm my vassals with pikes and axes and make sure they all pray in church (to maximize their zeal). Once ready, I can raid the virtual castle of some poor, unsuspecting guy in Bangladesh, winning fame, gold, glory and (if I’m lucky) taking some captives. (Hmmm. Maybe I need to revisit that whole ‘Chivalry’ thing.)

My castle still needs some work, even if (in honor of Mr. Darcy) I named it “Pemberly”.

I’ll keep you posted if I ever go to war … I know several of you are on the edges of your seats. Drop me a line if you want to become my vassal. :)


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As if there weren’t enough things to occupy my time and distract me from life, now I can add Facebook to the list. Blogs, email, homeschool groups, online carnivals – I could spend my entire day glued to the computer screen.

It’s wonderful! Especially when you are sun-burnt and afraid to go outside. Well, maybe it’s not really wonderful since eventually the family needs food and clean laundry. It’s a little hard to wash dishes or fold laundry (as if I ever do that) while the keyboard is on your lap and the mouse permanently glued to your fingertips.

Sarah's too cool for Facebook

I keep trying to get Sarah to do all the cooking and cleaning but she gives me that Princess Smile and I’m lost.

Anyway, back to Facebook. Basically it’s a social networking utility where you can connect with friends, family, co-workers, and fellow students. It was originally created by a Harvard sophomore, exclusively for other Harvard students. Gotta love those brilliant (and slightly bored) college students! Facebook expanded to other Ivy league schools (no need to be exclusive when there’s money to be made and students to exploit, I mean reach), high schools and finally the general public.

I can’t quite explain why it’s so fun, something about reaching out through the cyber world and connecting with friends. I know that I’m way behind the times, but I can’t help it.

“Girl, Facebook is, like, so 2006. Get with it! This homeschooling thing is keeping you unsocialized and ignorant.”

Not only did I lose precious hours of my day adding “friends” to my list, I pulled Tim into the Facebook world.

“The woman you put here with me – she invited me to her Facebook, and I joined.”

David, Sarah and Caedie

This picture has nothing to do with Facebook but I just love the little playhouse and therefore it deserves a spot on the blog.

On the other hand, I connected with some College of William and Mary alums and found one of my closest high school friends. I couldn’t believe it! I haven’t seen Jennifer since Tim and I were married. What are the odds that she would be one of the first people I ran in to? Even stranger is the fact that I was talking about her just last night with Rachel.

Hardly a waste of time!

Joshua and David are not on Facebook, yet

No time for Facebooking, we’ve got basketball to play.

Next thing you know I’ll be hanging out at Twitter.

Maybe not, there’s only so much coolness I can handle in one week. So, tell me, do you Facebook? If so, what do you like about it? Do you share photos, connect with friends, poke people? This is a new world for me. Share your wisdom and insight!

Project 366 – Day 192

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Color Coordination – Techie Style

I spent a good portion of the day working on a flyer for a community carnival our church is hosting in July. Thankfully I have amazing friends and when I put out a desperate call for David/Sarah play time, I received nearly an immediate response and within 20 minutes they were buckled into my dear friend Julee’s car and on their way.

Thank you, Julee!! It was incredibly helpful to have those two little sweetie pies out of the house for a few hours. I really needed to concentrate and give this project my complete attention.

color coordinate me, Mom

Who me? I’m not distracting am I?

In the process of working on the brochure in Publisher, I discovered two online color scheme generators. Selecting colors, fonts, and graphics is always challenging for me. I am NOT a graphics designer or an artist of any kind. Frankly, I do NOT have that type of creative gifting so I appreciate any type of help I can receive in this area.

Color Scheme Generator is designed by When you select a color on the color wheel, three other colors come up in a box. You can then choose mono, contrast, triad, tetrad, and analogic for colors that compliment or contrast the original color. You can also vary the shades within the color groups. Very helpful.

Another fantastic color site is Color Scheme Online. You chose a color and fifteen coordinating colors come up in boxes, complete with RGB or Hex values (an absolute dream when you are customizing colors in Publisher). You can darken or lighten the palette as you wish.
I’m afraid I’m not describing these programs very well. It’s late and I’ve already used all my creative energies today. Click on the links and you’ll quickly see for yourself.

big brother to the rescue

Joshua helped put the training wheels on Sarah’s new bike. This photo has nothing to do with the blog but it does feature an awesome big brother.

Of course, this discussion of colors and computer use wouldn’t be complete without telling you about an easy-to-use, tiny (free) utility program a friend shared with me last year. Pixie is a color picker that includes a mouse tracker. In order to run it, simply point to a color and the Pixie box will list the hex, RGB, HTML, CMYK and HSV values of that color. I’ve used this numerous times when designing retreat booklets, flyers and brochures. It’s the perfect way to coordinate graphics and images with font colors, borders and other design features.

I love working with the computer and wish I was more artistic. Of course, raising my children, managing my household, loving my husband, serving the Lord and occasionally posting a decent blog takes nearly all my energy and brain power. :)


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Frugal Finance Websites

Here are a few websites/blogs I’ve discovered in my pursuit of frugal living. Okay, I wasn’t exactly pursuing frugal living when I found these. I was really avoiding working on June’s budget spread sheets and having to enter in the frightening amount of money we have managed to spend on groceries in only four days.

It sounds much better to say “pursuing frugal living” than “avoiding financial responsibility.” It’s all about the PR.

Carnival of Personal Finance #154

I never even knew there was one Carnival of Personal Finance, let along a hundred fifty-four of them. Silly me. If you have time, this site is definitely worth perusing. Many, many articles on topics ranging from credit card usage, online banking, financial simplicity, saving and investing.

Money Saving Methods

This mom of three shares ways she has found to save and/or make money that are simple and straightforward. Since she mentions a Starbucks offer on today’s post, I couldn’t resist including her. Carrie is compelling in her comments on using credit cards for the reward programs and she links to several cash back banking offers.

Frugal Hacks

Be careful with this site! You will get lost in all the amazing bloggy links. I finally had to close down the page because there were more fantastic frugal blogs than I had time to research. The host of Frugal Hacks is Kim, mom of 8 (soon to be 9) and writer of In a Shoe blog. Kim and four other bloggers manage the Frugal Hacks site.

I recommend grabbing a cup of coffee, your keyboard and a timer (because you’ll easily lose track of time if you’re not careful) and set out exploring. Share your favorite finance/frugal blog or website. These are just a very few that I’ve stumbled across.

Happy reading!

Who SOLD $9 worth of homeschool materials at a used curriculum sale today and SPENT $15. Hmmm. Obviously still a “frugal living” work in progress. :)

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WMFW – Movie Info

wfmwI love movies! I love the thrill of being lost in a fantastic story, putting up my feet, digging into a big bowl of popcorn and being swept away into another time or place.

As a Christian family, we try to be discerning and wise in our movie viewing (not an easy thing these days). Here are some resources we use in previewing and monitoring our movie choice:

Plugged In - run by Focus on the Family, this is a Christian review site. Profanity, sexual content, violence, and religious themes are all clearly outlined.

Screen It – another “spoiler” type review website. Unlike Plugged In, this is not a Christian based site. It is geared toward parents, however, and does an excellent job of detailing the specific content of the movie. There is a separate section where the author rates the movie (on a 1 to 10 scale). Although he is not filtering through a Biblical world view, I often find the movie critique to be insightful.

daniel, david and sarah

If the children are going to watch a movie they have to pay a “chip.” Daniel and David encourage Sarah to pay as often as possible. They even occasionally let her actually select the movie. That’s big brothers for you.

IMDB (International Movie Database) – the mother of all movie websites. It has every movie, actor, director, etc every made in it’s database. This is the place to research movies, cross reference composers, or just plain track down the answer to that illusive question.

“Who was that guy who played in that movie with the other girl? You know, the one where she kisses him at the end?”

If you can figure out even one little piece of the puzzle – the name of the movie, one of the actors, even the year in which it was made – you can unravel the mystery and connect the movie dots. This has brought much peace in our household. Tim has resigned himself to my OCD need to place actors into proper movie context.

“Tim,” I’ll say in the middle of a movie. “Do you recognize that character? Yes, the cashier. Do you think he’s the same guy who played the teacher in the comedy we saw last week?”

Poor guy. He doesn’t even pause. After all, the “movie itch” isn’t going to go away. I must know.

“Why don’t you go check IMDB and see. I can wait.” Of course, that’s code for ‘I’ll be playing my computer game while you get online. Call me when you’ve figured it out.’

For movie trivia, you can’t get any better than IMDB. You can also find trailers and links to other external reviews.

Yahoo Movie Listings – I keep this site bookmarked because it links automatically to my zip code and will list all the theaters in my area, complete with showing times, movie info and maps.

Coming Soon Trailers – proceed with caution. This site collects the newest trailers as they are released. We don’t have a tv and rarely go to the theater, so if we do see a movie preview, it’s usually online. I ignore all the “junk” or questionable movies, and enjoy the fun ones. Although they do include children’s films as they are released, this is definitely not a site for kids to visit unsupervised.

david and sarah

These buddies stick together.

ClearPlay – a dvd player that offers filtering options. We purchased ours at Target last year but they have since stopped carrying them. Basically you purchase a subscription to the filters (which are accessed online), load them on to a USB stick and then plug the stick into the dvd player. The ClearPlay DVD player recognizes the filter and applies them to your copy of the movie. Profanity, violence and inappropriate sexual scenes are either edited or skipped. Recently we had some trouble with the audio portion of our player (purchased in November 2007), ClearPlay paid for our shipping and is mailing us a new DVD player free of charge.

If you have a movie resource that your family recommends, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it.

Visit Rocks in My Dryer for other Works For Me Wednesday tips.

Keep your eyes open for Fireproof, the newest movie produced by the makers of Facing the Giants, coming out in the fall of 2008. Check out the trailer! Looks powerful.


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