Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The First (and maybe last) Family Puzzle Challenge

I come from a long line of puzzlers.... jigsaw puzzlers. My grandparents on my mom's side always had a puzzle set up and all of us have always enjoyed working them. We've recently been working puzzles at my mom's house and bantering about who is the best at it. This friendly banter turned into an all-out puzzle smack-down. We decided to have a puzzle competition. My sisters, mom, and I entered the competition immediately. When we decided that the winner's prize would be that all the losers had to buy her a drink on our upcoming family vacation, my brother-in-law stepped up to the plate as well. Jon volunteered to be the referee (and he was drafted to be the child care provider as well).
We spent several weeks debating and establishing the official rules. We finally agreed to meet at my house on a Saturday in June. We celebrated the June birthdays (my mom, sister, and brother-in-law) and made a day of it. Jon took the kids down to the pool while we spent the day puzzling.
Here's the puzzle we worked ----
It was a challenge finding five identical 500-piece puzzles that were not pictures of cats or beaches (as agreed upon in our heated debates). Three stores later.... I settled on candy! On the day of the party, I set up a candy table to look like the puzzle. It set the tone and gave us lots of sugar to fuel our puzzling!

We had to have real food as well, of course! Here's my brother-in-law with his birthday requests.... meat and lemon meringue pie. Yes, he's an odd bird... and now and old bird too!

Here's Jon in his official referee shirt! We finally bought him this official shirt after years of teasing him and watching him make all the calls as he watches football and hockey. He too his role very seriously. He and Ray led us in an opening ceremony, which included the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer, and the re-hashing of all the rules.

Here we are PUZZLING!!!
As you can see, it was intense! Ray periodically walked around and gave status reports.

The kids even had their own puzzle station!
At this point I'm sure you're thinking at least these three things ---
1. What a weirdo family. (True)
2. How long does it take one person to complete a 500 piece puzzle. (Longer than we thought --- for most of us.)
3. Who won?

Well..... it turns out that we have a certifiable puzzle savant in our family. My sister Colleen, who had trash-talked us for weeks, spanked us! She beat us all by more than two hours!

We started at about 10:30, took breaks for food and birthday celebrations, and she finished (as you can see on the clock in this picture) at 4:45.

Colleen proceeded to help Reenie and my mom finish their puzzles. Mike and I both finished on our own.... but not until around 7:00! One of the funniest moments was when Mike put his last piece in and then immediately flung the whole puzzle onto the floor! Needless to say, none of us wants to do any puzzles for a while.

It ended up being a really fun family day with lots of singing along with the radio and just being silly.

Here's our puzzle champion ----
We're hoping to enter her in some real competitions and have her win us some money! In the meantime, she'll be getting lots of free drinks on vacation! And she still has bragging rights.

Here's one of the completed puzzles. It was harder than it looks! And we all hated those green olive-looking things! If you'd like to work this puzzle, we have plenty of copies to lend you!

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