Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 1592 - Ren Fest

Yesterday, Melissa, my father, and I took Ruth to the Maryland Renaissance Festival.  Ruth is very excited about stories of princesses and knights and dragons and such, so we thought she'd have a good time.

And she did!  Sorry, didn't mean to leave you in suspense.

Melissa had the good idea, since we knew she'd be interested in the costumes, of helping Ruth make one for herself to bring.  So, you can see her outfitted in her knight's breastplate.  Melissa spraypainted it silver, and painted the phoenix on the front as a device (at Ruth's request).  In the next photo, you can see Ruth striking a "knight pose" and showing the rose she painted on the back.

Despite my insistence that there were some famous female knights and warriors, like Joan of Arc and Wonder Woman, she insisted that she was going to tell everyone her dress was a tunic because she was in disguise as a boy, since "most fighters are boys."

After a somewhat confusing scene at the entrance (that you're not interested in, I'm sure) about whether or not we needed tickets in addition to our internet "vouchers," we went in and let Ruth lead the way around.

Oh, by the by, Ren Fests are always an eye-opener.  Who would have thought that belly dancing and tattoos were so popular in the Rennaissance? <\ obligatory joke about Ren Faires being more D&D than history>

We started out by catching a performance of A Fool Called O and La La's show right after we got in.  I thought some of the physical comedy was funny, but it left Ruth underwhelmed aside from the whoopee cushion bits.  Oh well.  Then we found a face-painting booth; face-painting is Ruth's new obsession.  So she quickly ended up being a rainbow-princess-knight.  A hungry-for-meat-rainbow-princess-knight.

Bellies full of teriyaki (AUTHENTIC RENASSAINCE FOOD) jerky (and mine of coffee), we saw a ping-pong crossbow game that Ruth wanted to try out.  I helped her steady and aim the crossbow; she didn't hit anything (unsurprisingly), but seemed to think it was neat to pull the trigger.

The other big thing that Ruth decided she wanted to try was climbing the rock wall.  I was about to tell her she was still a little bit too small, but the attendant said that, nope, they'd had smaller kids try, so I figured I'd let her give it a go.
Ruth getting snugged into the harness

Add caption
Miss Paige talking to Ruth about how to climb the wall.


Unfortunately, right after I took that last picture, I came around to the side to get a snap of Ruth from a different angle (she'd made it up to having her foot on that yellow rock) and she started to get scared.  So they let her down, and tried to give me my money back, which was nice.

Let's see, I'm going to get the order wrong, I'm sure, but for most of the rest of the day we:

  • At Ruth's insistence that she "knows it's fake" and "won't be scared," tried - and failed - to take a walk through the Museum of the Unnatural.
  • Watched part of the singing pirates, which Ruth seemed to enjoy, but then asked to leave because she had "stage fright."  We tried to explain that you can only really have stage fright when you're on stage, but that was her story and she was sticking to it.
  • Rode ponies, for free!  The pony-leaders did not seem that thrilled with their jobs.  Ruth's pony was named Misty.  Surprisingly, later in the day she turned down my offer to buy an elephant ride for her.
  • Ruth wanted to watch me throw axes, and to be fair I didn't take too much prodding.  I could consistently hit the target, but not get the rotation right - I kept bonking it with the handle.
  • Ate bratwurst.  My dad tried a smoked turkey leg, which was, as I remembered them to be, really hard to eat.
  • We went to the children's knighting ceremony, but Ruth was getting pretty wiggly, and has stage fright (see above) so didn't want to go up to get her picture taken with the king and queen.
We figured we'd end the day with the Joust, and we did go.  It was cool, Ruth enjoyed it, and the dude who got unhorsed made it look like hitting the ground in full armor is really, really, really not fun.  Ruth was acting very tired by this point (despite an emergency ration of candied nuts), so we skipped the siege engines that I'd wanted to see to head out, but then Ruth got sucked into the Renaissance Man's Romeo and Juliet show.  

If Ruth tells you that Romeo and Juliet made "poor life choices," as she did to us several times on the car ride, home, that's from me trying to explain why everyone dies at the end.

She also turned out to be fascinated watching one of the small glass-blowers after being utterly uninterested in watching the larger glass-blowing show (that Melissa took in).  She watched him make a small dragon hatching from an egg in rapt fascination, along with a ten-or-so-year-old boy who was really digging it.

Then home again home again, and to complete our tour de force of historical accuracy by watching Jason and the Argonauts.

MELISSA: Oh, so that's why the restaurant is called "Harryhausen's" in Monsters, Inc

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 1564 - Bzzz

Ruth had asked to help me with the next time I needed to re-fill the bees' sugar water, and so today we did!

She was pretty excited to wear her veil, but I finally managed to get her to wait long enough for me to get the smoker going and such.

We went out and opened up the hive, and Ruth looked inside and even touched a couple of the bees.  "They feel like plastic," was how she described it afterwards.  I didn't take out any of the frames this time, as I didn't really have a reason to, and feel like I shouldn't disassemble their home if I don't need to.

We added a third Illinois super to complete the brood chamber, and then refilled their sugar water reservoir and closed the whole thing up.  No stings, no burns, and she's excited to do it again (if you get her to concentrate enough to answer your question)!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 1549 - Mermaid Adventures

I've been posting occasionally about Ruth on Facebook and G+, but I realize that that's both a venue that not everyone follows, and that won't do as well when I try to show her things later on.  It's just soooooo temptingly easy.

I refuse to use Instagram, because I am old.

Anyway, so this is yet again me saying that I should put more stuff up here on the blog.  I actually have a massive backlog of pictures and such that I should eventually categorize, and you're missing out on Ruth's political punditry!


A little while ago, I backed the Mermaid Adventures Kickstarter on Ruth's behalf, and last week the game (a bit belated) finally arrived!

So we played a bit after breakfast and before school on Friday.  The game's art definitely succeeded in getting her sucked in and excited to play - the long-suffering Melissa had to read her about all the different merfolk splats as I made her lunch (Melissa has given up on saving Ruth from my geekery, but she draws the line at getting excited about the relative strengths and weaknesses of Lobsterfolk and Octofolk).

We did a guided/streamlined version of the game, but honestly I was a bit surprised at how little "dumbing down" I needed to do.  The game is pretty traditional in structure, and uses essentially a version of the Burning Wheel die-pool system.  For Ruth, who is just starting on math concepts, it's great - it involves counting and number recognition (I need some more dice with numbers on them instead of pips, I realized, as she can recognize numbers now, but has to count pips, which is much more tedious, and learning to "see" the standard pip patterns at a glance is not a skill that I think she's terribly in need of), but no addition/subtraction/multiplication, which is still beyond her.

I did chargen just by asking her what her character was especially good at, and filling in stat stuff on my own.  Ariel (natch), had a princess crown, was a great singer (+1W for singing), a Human Expert (from watching Prince Eric), was Cheerful (free from being a fish folk), and was Beautiful.

Ruth took the reins of the story immediately, telling me that Ariel was swimming around when she got trapped in a dark cave!  IIRC, she found her way out just by thinking hard about it.

But then she got trapped in a cage, and some fishers dragged her up on their boat.  They were talking about what to do with her, whether to sell her to an aquarium or just to cut her up with the rest of the fish and not tell anyone.  But one of them had a pet snake (Ruth's suggestion) that could get her the key.  Ariel made him a little crown that looked like hers out of coral (again, all Ruth) and gave it to him as a gift, and the snake got the sailor's keys off his belt and unlocked the cage so she could swim home.

I was pretty happy with how things went.  We played for all of about ten minutes, but Ruth seemed to have fun, and I was actually impressed with how creative she was.  And while I offered to play without the dice, she really wanted to use them, and with my help and Melissa's was able to mostly get the hang of finding all the ones with 1-3 on them and tossing them, then counting up the green and red ones (I have plenty of those, but not as many B/W) that were left.

I look forward to trying it again with her!  Then, maybe Apocalypse World.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 1430 - Preparing for the Bees!

I know, updates to this blog have been few and far between lately.  Frankly, as Ruth gets older, she's more independent, but also requires more intensive interaction!  Gone are the days when I could update the blog while she napped for a few hours a few times a day, and when she went to sleep at 5PM!


Saturday, I drove out to White Hall and picked up my Illinois super (that's not "super" as in "awesome" but "super" as in "the part that goes on top of the brood chamber for bees to put honey in.") starter kit (I decided to not be a tough guy and go with three Illinois for the brood chamber rather than two standard hive bodies - full of honey, a standard hive body apparently runs 80-100#, while the smaller Illinois super only runs about 50-60#).  I think Ruth is about as excited to have bees as I am - every time she sees a picture of one, she says, "we're going to have those!"  Melissa and I are just trying to mentally prepare her for the fact that, if she ultimately helps me with the bees, she will eventually get stung (and hoping she doesn't turn out to be allergic).

When I got home, Ruth helped me paint.  She'd requested pink, and I found some salmon-y color (as Melissa pointed out, very Baltimore) on the mistint shelf at Lowes - score!   So we went out in the back and painted up the boxes.

Ruth was actually really good at the painting!  I'm always amazed at how fast her motor skills are developing.  And she was excited to come out on Sunday and put on another coat, so the boxes are all painted up and waiting for the bees to arrive (in mid-April).

The bigger part of prep is that I think we're going to need to finally replace our fence.  We'd been putting it off because of the expense, but the chain link is looking pretty ratty, and we think it will be better to put the bees in the backyard - but then we'll need something solid both to prevent people from poking stuff at the hives from the street and to get them to spread out on their foraging flights a bit as they head out so as not to disturb the neighbors...


Last night, at dinner, Ruth was smearing some strawberry on her knee and licking it off, which we wanted to nip in the bud.  Then:

MELISSA: Stop licking your knee.
RUTH (begins kissing her leg): I'm kissing it!
MELISSA: No, stop kissing your knee!
RUTH: But I love myself!