Big Doings

Kittens, it has been a busy week. This weekend is the big-time bridge event – the Ruff-n-Sluff Non-Life Master Tournament. Yes, even though I’ve been playing bridge for 12 years, I am still a NON-life master. Awesome. In any event, as Chairman of the tournament, I’ve been running around gathering gift cards, finding partners, and ordering cookies all so that everyone can come together this weekend in a concentrated effort to beat me. That’s why they all come, right? Just to give me low boards!

I’ve been able to accomplish a lot this week, even though I was exhausted from camping, Moon had a friend over, and I did an impromptu screening of Sense and Sensibilities – LOVE that movie. Despite all of THAT, you’ll be glad to know I have my bidding britches laid out and ready to wear tomorrow.

Speaking of my great big bidding britches, I’ve reached a high point on the scale. Because, as my friend John said, “At least you keep TRYING to lose weight,” I’ve decided on ANOTHER diet. This time I’ve ordered a 30 day supply of pre-made meals. I haven’t gotten the box yet, but I’ll be sure and keep you posted on how much weight I lose.

Stay tuned to see how many points I win, and how many pounds I lose. If either one is over ONE, I’ll be surprised.


Off the Phone


This one is full-on her daddy’s girl. After working on the carburetor, she changed into her Star Wars, Dark Side t-shirt. If he hadn’t agreed to play bridge with us on Mondays, I’d have to kill him. It’s the only way to get her to play.

Aging Gracefully

There have been signs lately that I’m growing older. Such as my clothes. I was walking through a parking lot on Saturday, when I looked down and took stock of my fashion choices for the day. I was wearing a pair of black flats, and because it was chilly, had decided to wear black, silky socks with them. To make it worse – they were JD’s! I had on a pair of faux jeans, you know the kind that you find at TJ Maxx for $9.99 that are called jeans, but really are more like stretchy blue slacks. Because they’ve been washed about a thousand times, they are just a bit too short, and there was a faint white smudge on the knee from my painting adventures last week. I’d paired them with a blouse I’d purchased at a yard sale which was a bit clingy, despite my Spanx, and to finish off the look I was wearing a thin sweater in my signature gray. Not my best effort.

The only thing that stopped me from turning around and going home was that the parking lot was in front of the Roswell Senior Center, and I was on my way in to play bridge. I was pretty sure my peeps would accept me as I was.

You know another sign of aging? Fear. Old people get freaked out by the darnedest things. When I was leaving bridge on Saturday, I got in the car, (along with Moon and her bff, Jemi) pulled out of my space, and started to try and navigate my way out of the parking lot. The problem was that it was PACKED. There had been so many people trying to park when I first got to the game, that police had been directing people to an overflow lot. The parking lot was a figure eight, and as I got to the middle loop,  I saw mass chaos as people waited for spots to open up. I looked behind me, and since there was only one car between me and the entrance, I decided to just put it in reverse and back out.

Here’s a handy schematic I made for you:

As soon as I started backing up, the one car behind me moved over to the right so that I would have plenty of room to get by. JUST KIDDING! No, she tapped her horn to let me know she was behind me. I ignored her and kept backing up. So she decided to LAY ON THE HORN. Kittens, I’ve learned a lot about old people from playing bridge. Like that they may be mean, but they have fairly poor balance. I’m pretty sure if grandma wanted to fight, I could take her. So I kept backing up. It wasn’t like there was any danger of me hitting her. Even though she refused to move over, I still had PLENTY of room to get by her car. When I got even with her, she gave me the classic, both hands in the air, WTH look, but I ignored her. I am sorry that I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture, or at least stop while her window was even with Moon’s and roll down the window just to freak the girls out, but as it was I just smiled and continued on my merry way backwards.

I talked it over with the girls on the way home. We couldn’t figure out what she was so AFRAID of. I was nowhere near her, and if she was really worried, she could have moved her car in the other direction!

But hey, I get it. As I get older, I get more afraid. Even though I rarely leave my house, I’ve been thinking that maybe I should get a weapon of some kind for taking to the grocery store, or walking down the street. I don’t want to carry a gun, for crying out loud, but I did find something that could work.

It’s a STUN CANE that delivers 1.000.000 volts! How perfect is that? JD thought it was a good idea, but after some soul searching, I decided I’d better not get one. It doesn’t seem like something I’d want to introduce to the bridge community.

:( Scowling Is For Losers. And Winners.

I didn’t mention it, but I played bridge on Friday with my good friend, Patty. I’ve been trying to play on a Friday at the Ruff-n-Sluff for YEARS, but have been thwarted by a little something I like to call, “parenting”. But now with Moon in Middle School, I can drop her off, play 24 boards and be in the pick-up line in plenty of time.

I had fun, but alas, we didn’t win. Patty stopped me as we were changing tables to ask if everything was alright.  She said she’d been worried, because I was SCOWLING, but I assured her that was just my thinking face. She said, “Well, you were scowling when you were winning TOO, so I figured it was fine.”

Note to self: Increase the botox budget.

So this week, I’ve been using ever spare moment to practice bridge online -not the actual PLAYING, but my bridge face. It’s taken hours, but I can finally hold my face still while I play, keeping it the exact same whether I’m winning or going down 4.

Patty is going to be so much happier.

Weekends are better than weekdays

Thursday was a tiny bit better for Moon and a WHOLE BUNCH better for me, mainly because the in-laws came and, whew. It’s nice to have a Star Teacher in the family when homework is on the line. On a side note, it’s nice to have a Sicilian in the family when death is on the line, but that’s another story.

Anyway, M and PaPa showed up on Thursday and I could not have been happier. M provided 42 hours of free tutoring and 73 games of Chicken Coop, while PaPa provided the Bloody Mary’s. Moon and I were in heaven!

And it got better. Moon went to school on Friday, so I, being the best daughter-in-law in the world, took the in-laws into Atlanta for the BRIDGE NATIONALS. I had bragged about how easy it was to get there, and about the $5.00 parking across the street, only to find that traffic was backed up for several exits and the parking lot had decided to raise the rates to $20 bucks! We opted for a $10 space just a few miles away and I feel certain the up-hill walk to the bridge game was invigorating for everyone involved. Either way, we all won so it was totally worth it. Afterward, we went out for a nice, healthy lunch.

I’m referring to our MENTAL health, obviously.

We got home to an empty house. Moon had gone home with a friend and they spent the evening at the Braves game. Not only did she see their 14th win of a 14 game winning streak, she came home with a game ball! You know, the ACBL ought to really consider giving out “game” cards, amiright?

By Saturday, we were all a little worn out and over wrought. My mother-in-law made note that PaPa had fixed himself a “drink” and it was only noon.

He didn’t seem to give much weight to her opinion. In his defense, she looked like this at the time –

Basically, we drove them crazy.

AmmoGuy brought over the girls for some bonding time Saturday afternoon and we all sat around eating Chinese food and being lazy. In another word – perfection!

Sunday, we all went to church, then I came home and cleaned house, played Barbies, grabbed 10 pounds of BBQ with my friend Kathryn, took it all to the church so Moon and the students could eat, came home and ate some of the aforementioned BBQ, and now I’m on the couch swearing that tomorrow, I will REALLY, SERIOUSLY begin my diet.

So, family, bridge, overeating, diet plans and delusions – in other words, a typical weekend.

Bridge for kids? YES!

If you’ve spent any time around me, read this blog on a semi-regular basis, or seen my Facebook status, you know I’m crazy about bridge. It was a BIG thrill for me this weekend to see Moon and J play in their first sanctioned game. The fact that they actually won points made the whole thing even more fabulous! Still, I’m amazed at the glazed looks I get when I tell parents that they should consider teacher THEIR child. I’m sure you already know that bridge improves test scores, builds the immune system, and promotes inter-generational socialization, but here are a few more reasons why I love bridge as a parent that you might not have thought of.

5. It’s Cheap!

Moon went to Bridge Camp last year, has taken several lessons at the local club, played three times at the Junior Nationals and spent ZERO dollars. The ACBL and Atlanta Junior Bridge do a great job supporting juniors and raising funds throughout the year, so the cost to parents is next to nothing. The only thing I’ve paid for is a $15.00 Junior ACBL membership – no league fees, uniforms or equipment! Even when you do pay, it’s not much. Moon could play at any of the local clubs for somewhere between $6 to $10.00 for 3 hours of bridge.

4. You can play bridge FOREVER and continue to improve as you age.

You can’t say the same for football, baseball, tennis, hockey, volleyball, skateboarding or gymnastics. You may be able to do all those things when you’re 80, but I bet your 18 year old self could kick your butt. In bridge, your glory days are always ahead of you. How awesome to fall in love with something and not have to stop when you graduate high-school!

3. It’s MindFULL entertainment.

My favorite thing about watching Moon and J play at the tournament was seeing them do something besides play Minecraft or watch TV. They used their brains, interacted face-to-face with other kids, and had fun! The tournament goodie bag included an autograph book and as each child came to the table, the girls asked where they were from, collected signatures, and even some emails! And despite Bridge’s “nerdy” reputation, the kids were all cute, normal and not one of them wore a pocket protector.

2. It’s a career path.

While I was showing the girls around the venue, a gentlemen mentioned how great it was to see kids playing, then he told us about a 16 year old who makes $3500 a week playing bridge! Clients have been known to pay $500 – $1500 to a pro for ONE session. Making it as a bridge professional is tough, but if you dedicate yourself, there is a chance that you could make a living playing cards. Let’s put it this way, the chance of a high-school football player making it in the NFL is 0.2%. Your chances are better with cards and there’s no need for the frequent CT scans.

1. In all of the years I counseled at the local pregnancy center, I never met a bridge player!

When’s the last time you checked in at the local skating rink? I was there one Friday night not long ago and I was shocked by the kids’ behavior. Yes, your daughter COULD sit on a boy’s lap at the bridge club, but I’m pretty sure the Director would put the kibash on that pretty quickly. And there would be no coming to the club and sneaking out to meet a boy. During the Nationals, one of the kids started complaining of a headache. The Director told him if he needed to quit he could, but there would be no leaving the room until his parent came to get him. I had no qualms about leaving Moon in the room to play while I went to my own bridge game.

Oh yeah, I guess that’s ANOTHER reason bridge for kids is so great – you can continue to play and not feel guilty for leaving the kids at home!

If you’re interested, check out or for more!

Bow Down, Biddies!

Moon and J? They won.

They. Won. Points.

Their very first duplicate bridge game ever, and they won. They came in 3rd in B for .31 points. Not only that, but one of the adult supervisors kept coming over to tell me how impressed he was with them. This must be how Michael Phelps mother feels.

A glimpse into our day:

Walking down the Atlanta street with their pink, bridge totes.

Moon contemplating her bid.

J bid 4 hearts, enough for game and her silly opponents doubled her which means they didn’t think she’d make it. They were wrong!

The tournament posted the scores after 5 rounds but it didn’t show whether the girls were winning points. We waited and waited for the final scores, and finally I sent the girls to the lounge for cookies and told them I’d catch up later and let them know. When I found them and told them they’d won, they insisted on seeing for themselves.

I’d wager they were the only bridge players sprinting through the lobby.

The girls scoured the leader board to find their names.

The only thing about the day that was disappointing is how the girls reacted. I really thought they’d find the day fun, and that winning would be exciting for them.

You know tweens, blase about everything, amiright Kittens?


Seriously, could you DIE? I could hardly sleep last night thinking about it. The Bridge Nationals start TODAY! Moon and her BFF are all set to go. They have their gear – the wooden cardholders are decorated and ready, and the uniform is set – comfortable clothes for sitting, a sweater in case it get’s chilly. We’re going to spend the morning doing drills, 1 heart, 2 hearts, 1 no-trump, 2 clubs, you know, the usual, then off to downtown Atlanta to rock this thing!

The only sad part of the whole endeavor is that I am not going to play. I mean, OF COURSE I’m going to play, just not on Thursday. I’ll be sitting on the sidelines watching and helping the kids figure out whether they should play from their hand or from the board. Because I’m a giver. And because I’m afraid that if I leave them in the middle of 5000 bridge players in downtown Atlanta they’ll start a riot.

“You’re a CHEATER!”

The girls get to play for free, eat for free, get free gifts and will end the evening with free cookies and a free illusionist show. I get to pay $10.00’s for parking, $17.00 bucks per session, buy my own lunch and cookies, and the only “gift” I’ll get is the gift of playing bridge against a bunch of grumpy, old people who want to beat me. SO WORTH IT!

Moon says she’s “terrified”, and by terrified, I’m sure she means SO HAPPY. I’ve told her that it’s her first tournament and she and her BFF shouldn’t expect to win. There’s no way they’re going to get points. I mean, they are 11, and newbies, and have been playing, like 3 weeks. They couldn’t possibly WIN, amiright Kittens? I’ve been playing for years and I rarely get points, so they won’t. At least they better not.

Perhaps she means “terrified” after all.

Serious Fun

So every day this week, Moon has gone to art camp until 12:30. Then she comes home and the real FUN begins. That’s right – we’re having BRIDGE CAMP. I intended to sign Moon and her BFF up for a camp downtown, but believe it or not, there wasn’t enough people interested. Must be a lot of people out of town this week.

Monday was the first day and both girls really gave it their full attention. Since then, they’ve spent the week learning about counting their points, bidding their suits, bidding strong hands, bidding weak hands, no trump, Stayman, Jacoby Transfers and signals, both attitude and suit preference. They. Are. Awesome. Well, as awesome as they can be with me as their teacher. They may not win at the Junior Nationals next month, but hopefully they’ve learned enough from me to not fall out of their chair or hit themselves in the head with the bidding box.

But I hope they win, cause the girls – they are competitive.

Jemi giving me the “I’m going to set you” stare.

Moon giving me the “We just set you” laugh.

To be fair, I had a handicap.

Bridge Immersion Therapy

I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but I finally overdosed on bridge. I guess that’s what I get for sitting at a table for 60 hours with people that want to beat me. And those were just my partners! 60 hours of back pain, processed sugar, and thinking. It was very difficult – especially that last part. But obviously totally worth it cause I left the club with a little over THREE points! Also, lungs of smoke. Okay, that wasn’t from the club, but from a little pre-bridge tradition I like to call “Beers with Carolyn”.

We like to go across the street to a little dive where they serve beer, wings and heavy metal. Nothing says, “Two cool chicks” like two women sitting at a booth with cards practicing bidding.

Anyway, it’s over. And while I could tell you all about it, no one cares except my 3 friends who were there and already know what happened. I. Am. Beat. And I look it.

*Photo illustration, not actually the author.

Now I’m in recovery mode. I’ve got to get my house back in order, catch up on work, and figure out how to stop smelling smoke. Which I am REALLY hoping is from the night at the bar, and not from what Web MD calls a “stroke”. Although if you’d seen me double our opponents into a contract so that we were minus 980 points, you’d know why either is possible.

Tomorrow: I get SERIOUS about my life.