Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back from Camp

Julia and Kate are home, after two weeks together at camp. We dropped them off on a Sunday morning at the designated meeting point, for the four-hour bus trip up North. The luggage was loaded, the goodbyes were said, and the kids were settled. We stood ready to smile and wave at the excited faces, in anticipation of the bus roaring off onto the highway. Instead, we heard the anti-climactic coughs and sputters of the bus as it tried desperately to match the energy level of the kids and get going that morning. By the time the driver requested a boost, the parents' faces were looking pretty long, and there was no shortage of volunteers. The parent with the biggest car got the privilege of boosting the bus, and finally it was moving. Relief all around. The only thing worse than seeing your kids leave for camp is to see them not leave for camp.

Todd and I, along with his parents, John and Marilyn, saw the girls mid-session on Visitor's Day. Julia and Kate were having a great time, despite a few minor disasters. ("Mom, I forgot to pack my hair straightener!!") Kate, the bookworm, finished all the books she'd brought in the first week but was relieved to find a little library at the camp. Julia, on the other hand, spent much of her free time playing on the sports fields and learning aquatic life-saving skills.

Todd and I enjoyed the quiet and (relative) cleanliness of the house, but truthfully, the house seemed too empty without the girls here. I was happy to see them back and after three days, I am almost finished with the laundry.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Craft Update - August 24

My goal for Jill's Olympic Craft Challenge was to work on my cross-stitch projects a total of 12 hours. I actually managed about 16 hours by the time the closing ceremonies finished this morning. Here is a close-up of Aida, designed by Mirabilia. I've been working on this for ages and have finished about two-thirds at this point. The hand-dyed linen fabric was from Sugar Maple Fabrics which sadly seems to have closed its on-line doors at this time. I love the colours in this piece, but it is rather painful to stitch, as it involves lots of pesky little beads (many of which are hiding in the rug and under the seat cushion right now), metallic threads that fray all the time, and large, boring single-colour sections. I am determined to finish it though, hopefully before the next Olympics.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Martin Turns One

My youngest nephew, Martin, turned one on Friday! This photo of Martin and Kate playing peek-a-boo is from a couple of months ago, when Joe and Jill came to visit. You can see more photos of this cutie here. Happy Birthday, Martin!

A Visit from my Nieces

Last week, my sister-in-law Kimberly and her three girls came to visit. They, along with Todd's brother Tim, were in Canada for an extended visit while the kids were off school for the summer. Unfortunately, Tim had to return to England for work, but we had the great pleasure of having the girls at our house for a few days.

Kate had a great time playing with Lily-Ann and Alexandra, above. The girls went swimming together and enjoyed the new dinosaur exhibit at the museum. Julia was happy to take care of the littlest cousin, Teaghen. They even got matching bears when we went for an outing at Build-a-Bear. We got the opportunity to wish Teaghen a belated happy birthday. She'd turned four just a few weeks ago.

Julia and Kate were glad to also have the time with their Aunt Kimberly, who always lavishes lots of attention on them. All the girls were so well behaved that Todd, Kimberly and I managed to have some time off on our own too. We sadly said farewell after a too-short visit but look forward to seeing them again soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Craft Update - August 10

I am off to a slow start on Jill's Olympic Challenge. I'd committed to doing a modest 12 hours of work on my cross-stitch projects over the course of the Olympic games, and so far, I've put in about an hour and a half. My excuse is that I had a fun a busy week with my sister-in-law and nieces, and I'll write more about that later. However, now that the kids are off to camp, I should have plenty of time for stitching. Here's the current state of my "Fleur-de-Lys" sampler, designed by Jeannette Douglas. I've been working on this on-and-off (mostly off) for about two years now.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Scrabulous Story

Scrabulous, a Facebook Scrabble application, was shut down earlier in the week after its creators, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, were sued by Hasbro. Hasbro owns the North American rights to Scrabble. I, along with half-a-million other users, lost my daily Scrabble fix. Scrabble doesn't often get into the news, but this story was reported in places like The Globe and Mail and Slashdot.

I am normally a defender of intellectual property rights, so I cannot reasonably complain about Hasbro's actions. Nevertheless, I was sad to see Scrabulous go and couldn't help thinking that Hasbro handled the whole situation less than brilliantly. At the same time the lawsuit was launched, Hasbro put up its own legitimate Facebook application. I tried to give it a go, but it was down when I made the attempt, and the reviews I'd read about it were not at all encouraging.

Well, a few days after Scrabulous was pulled, the Agarwalla brothers brought it back as the brand new Facebook application, Wordscraper. Wordscraper is being promoted as a generic word game with rules similar to those of Scrabble. The board looks slightly different, with circles instead of squares, and here's the really brilliant part: the board can be customized with user-chosen locations for multiple-letter or multiple-word scoring. If the user wants to set up the board to look identical to the original Scrabble board, then that's up to him or her.

Is this fair to Hasbro? Well, maybe not, but one can't help applauding the cleverness of Scrabulous's creators and admiring this terrific application, which was already excellent in its earlier form. Many argue that Hasbro has only benefited from the renewed interest in the game, and if they'd embraced changing technologies earlier, they might have avoided this mess altogether.