getting serious about the card game

Yesterday Harvey and I went to our first competitive Pokemon tournament. He's been thinking about Pokemon for a while—I have too!—but only recently have we felt ready to take on serious players in anything more than a prerelease tournament. With traffic and parking troubles it was a stressful trip to downtown Salem, but eventually we managed to find somewhere to leave the car and made our way to the comic store where the event was being held. Once there we were directed to the basement dungeon, where we were welcomed into the company of all the other people who chose to spend a beautiful late summer Sunday afternoon playing a card game on folding tables under florescent lights.

For our first tournament we came in with goals. I actually achieved mine as soon as the event started, since all I wanted was to play! Harvey, a more ambitious soul, hoped to win a game and maybe even come in first. His goal didn't take him much longer; in a field of only two Juniors, he was guaranteed to place, and when he beat the only other Junior in the first game he was pretty much guaranteed first in his division. Maybe it was the lack of nerves that let him go undefeated for the rest of the event, finishing by taking two games from Seniors. He came away with four booster packs, a 1st-place promo card plus a couple other promos, and his first championship points. Those 15 points are enough to put him into a tie for 233rd in the US and Canada!

Embarrassingly, I also got some prizes and points, without winning a game. I brought a deck I just put together Saturday, and without much time to practice—and, unlike Harvey, dealing with lots of nerves!—I stumbled in both matches I played. But I did have a bye one round, which gave me an auto-win... leaving me in fourth place, ahead of the folks who apparently only tied or lost? I don't know. The fact that my 4th-place promo card is mistakenly in Spanish—and so not legal to play in US events—is a fair reflection of my actual performance.

Emerging blinking into the sunlight after everything wrapped up, we figured since we'd come so far we might as well take in the sights. According to the map (before my phone died) we were just a couple blocks from the ocean, plus Salem is kind of a tourist destination for all the witch business. But we didn't know which direction the ocean was, and the witchy atmosphere was actually a little weird. Plus we were hungry. So we went home. We're looking forward to the next tournament... and hoping it's somewhere with a parking lot.

Harvey: 15/???
Dada: 10/???

Harvey looking at the Bewitched statue in Salem

which witch is that?


moments from the week

storm clouds over Walden Pond

storm clouds over the pond

Moments from a very full week.

three boys sitting in a tree


Harvey sticking out his tongue while holding his 4th Grade sign

first day of not school

Harvey on the sadbox roof hammering

roofers at work

the boys watching the butterfly we raised go free

there it goes!

Harvey and Zion swimming in the pond under cloudy skies

swimming in September


the latest in beach vacations

This past weekend we enjoyed a getaway to Grandma and Grandpa Bernstein's house on Cape Cod. Lots of other people were headed that way too for Labor Day, but they live so far down the Cape that we escaped most of the crowds. There was certainly plenty of room on the beach to play with the new inflatable boat Grandma bought.

the boys and Grandma Beth playing with a raft in the calm waters of Cape Cod bay

vacation boating

The second day there were a few other kids on the beach, which was nice. The boys traded a turn in the raft for a go on their paddle boards. Then later they all caught fish together—that day there was an amazing river of small fish swimming along the beach, just a couple feet from the shore, and by afternoon they were so concentrated you could just put your hands in and pull them up. We got maybe 30 or 40 in one bucket before I started feeling sorry for them and made the kids turn them loose.

Harvey's hands filled with little fish

like catching fish in a barrel

Our vacation time also included some adventuring a little further afield;

the boys walking on a bridge over salt marsh

the expansive National Seashore

some quality resting time;

Mama and Lijah napping on the beach in a nest of towels


and, of course, some Pokemon practice.

Harvey and I playing pokemon on the big vacation house porch

anywhere and everywhere

It was a lovely few days; we liked it so much we're planning to go again in a couple weeks!

the sunset over the bay


moments from the week

the boys and friends digging holes on the beach at the pond

digging together

A few moments from the past week.

Harvey and Zion playing air-hockey on the kitchen floor

kitchen hockey

Lijah watching butterflies out the kitchen window

butterfly window


summer's final assult

After a week of lovely mild weather that had us feeling like fall, it turned hot again. Terrible hot. I don't know if yesterday and today were really the hottest days of the year, or if they just felt that way after a little while of getting used to cool evenings. Anyway, it's back to summer for now. We're trying to make the best of it: yesterday we went tot he pond in the morning for two-three hours, then came home for lunch before heading over to Lexington tp visit the farmers market and play giant checkers at the giant checker board. That last part was where I succumbed to heat exhaustion, so I had to drag the children away before they could finish their third game. I was restored a little later by dinner in air-conditioned comfort at our friends' house; fair exchange for bringing their son along with us on all the day's adventures.

The only problem with our day yesterday is that we went everywhere by car. Harvey rightly pointed out that we should have biked to Lexington; as the eldest, he has dutifully absorbed my prejudice against the automobile. But it was so hot, and I was already feeling weak. Today we made it right by not driving anywhere at all. We took a long walk in the morning before it was too blazing, then Lijah and I had a few quiet hours to ourselves while the bigger boys played with friends. Then after lunch we spent four hours in the cool convivial comfort of the library, reading books, playing on the iPad, and—Harvey and I—practicing Pokemon.

Pokemon is one of our focuses for this fall. On a shorter time scale, so are monarch butterflies. We have at least one—or rather, one caterpillar well on its way to becoming a butterfly. To get us some school credit I thought to academize our informal study a little bit, so we picked up four or five butterfly books to look at over the next couple weeks. I thinking about academic rigor, see, because I'm rushing to finish up the home education plans for the year. It's not that I want to impress the superintendent.. just that I have lots of good ideas for fun things I could do with the kids if only I could manage a little more organization. My thought is if I write them down now they'll have more chance of coming to fruition. We'll see soon enough; because never mid the heat, fall is just around the corner!