Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

Three kids, three strategies for playing Monopoly: My daughter buys every property she lands on, no matter what it is. One son collects the railroads, utilities and one set of properties on each side of the board. The other son banks his money until he can purchase Boardwalk and Park Place, then loads each with houses and hotels.

Each strategy has worked at one point or another during the past ten years. Of course, when one strategy works, the other two don't, so we're all ready for a break after about an hour of play. Then--even if we agreed to the rules at the game's onset--the negotiations begin. Do we play for an additional 10 minutes or until someone goes bankrupt? Do we lend money or force the one who's broke to mortgage property?

We've had plenty of tears and angry words, but more often, our living room has been filled with giggles and high-fives, especially when one of the three lands on my property undetected. And once, when we extended a single game through a three-day blizzard, each child experienced wealth and bankruptcy, several times.

Monopoly is only one of many board games in our cabinet. It doesn't have a gold seal proclaiming it "Parent's Choice" or a "Top Ten" pick of the year, but the blue-rimmed board and its wood tokens--the game my grandparents purchased in the early 1940s--is the board game most frequently requested in our home.

Whether we play for one hour or for several, our discussions are always lively. One minute we're consulting the rulebook's small type for the length of time a player can stay in Jail (three turns plus $50 fine) or about how to calculate Income Tax (ten percent of player's total worth). The next minute, we're defining "monopolist," "Community Chest," and early twentieth-century society. Ultimately, our conversation turns local, with questions and comments about the needy and the "Rich Uncle Pennybags" (or "Mr. Monopoly") of our community, where we fit in, and what we can do.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Journal Entry: What's your family's favorite board game? Describe the last time you played it together. What discussions--in addition to the rules of the game--occurred?

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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