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Always board

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With a new baby comes new cleaning. On a recent winter Saturday, I stayed in, sorting through storage closets to make room for the inevitable deluge of infant supplies that will arrive when my wife, Stacy, soon has our second child. When I stumbled across our stash of board games, I had to laugh: I hope the latest addition to our family comes equipped with a decent attention span.

Most of our rather immense board game collection comes from Stacy. Before we met, she was an avid card player and gamer. Still, as a child, I spent a lot of time playing board games and putting together 5,000-piece puzzles with my grandparents. During snowy days in Pennsylvania with my paternal grandmother, we would take breaks from marathon Monopoly sessions to build a snowman in the yard. After we retreated back into the warmth for dinner, we'd continue building our make-believe estates. My maternal grandmother taught me Canasta, a variation on rummy. And as Jeopardy sounded from the TV in the next room, my immediate family often huddled around the dinner table for hours playing Yahtzee.

I forgot about board games during my college years, but when I married Stacy, we soon became known to friends as the board-game duo. We hosted game nights, took games on our honeymoon, sat on the streets of Portland shuffling letters around while a parade passed. We've gone through phases of collecting board games like rare vinyl, owning several copies of the same game without realizing we already had one at home. Or if we've gone on a trip and forgotten the desired game, we've popped out to the closest shop to buy it. Need travel Scrabble? We must have five sets.

Though we did spend this New Year's Eve at home playing the new Cards Against Humanity with friends, we've typically found that, as young parents, finding a few hours to sit around the table and play long board games at the end of an exhausting day can be hard. Luckily, Scrabble for iPhone keeps one rivalry alive.

During the past three years, we've bought a few games for Oliver. He's played with them a few times and quickly forgotten about them, which is understandable for a toddler. This Christmas, though, all Oliver could talk about was Candyland after playing it with his cousins on vacation. On Christmas morning, his face lit up when he unwrapped the gift. Since then, we've pulled out Twister, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Trouble, Fastrack and a few others to keep us occupied during the cold winter months.

When we announced our second child, we simply posted online a photo of a Scrabble board with the names Stacy, Jed, Oliver, Niko (our dog) and Baby interconnected along the board. We want to continue this culture and tradition as much as possible for our children. The game collection is now happily out of a hidden closet and sits alongside our art and music collections upstairs.

As for our ongoing iPhone Scrabble rivalry, Stacy's currently ahead 39-10 after a few turns. But there are still 76 letters left in the bag.

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