Are there any other puzzlers out there?  I’m talking, the people who actually puzzle like it’s a sport.  Sometimes I feel like I’m kind of alone in this.  I have always loved puzzles in an extreme sort of way.  I’m one of those people who think it’s absolutely crazy to glue and frame a puzzle because then *gasp!* you can never do it again!  Why would anyone DO that?!  I’ve had multiple daydreams about winning in a puzzle competition, and most of my puzzles have been done at least twenty times and I have…. a LOT.  Here was my latest puzzle I did during our Christmas stop in Urbandale.  I didn’t have much time , but I don’t think my cheerleader, Grandpa D., ever doubted I could do it! 🙂

Puzzle Time

Puzzling was always more of a winter activity for me, since even they couldn’t keep me inside for long when it was nice enough to be enjoying the lovely outdoors!  After having children, I definitely puzzle less.  This is mostly a result of my 3 year old desperately wanting to “help” me every time I pull a puzzle out (and I can’t say no, because she loves it so much!) and my 1 year old unashamedly trying to destroy any pieces I put together.  I’m also a little extreme and once I start a puzzle, I get kind of obsessed with wanting to finish it.  As in, every time my kids are napping or asleep, I’ll be feverishly working to finish my puzzle to the exclusion of pretty much anything else.  This doesn’t work well when there are a lot of other tasks needing my attention.

My go-to puzzle has been the 1,000 piece since I was about 10 or 11.  They seem to be the perfect size where I have a slight challenge, but can typically accomplish it within 4 to 5 hours (which means 1-2 days depending on my children). Before that age, I remember enjoying a few different 500 piece puzzles my family had.  I used to set our egg timer for an allotted amount of time and that was how long I had to complete the puzzle.  If I failed, I had to re-do it.  This isn’t an abnormal activity for a homeschooled child, is it?

Puzzling can definitely be a sport, although I think most people do them more as a relaxing, family activity.  Hands down, the best puzzling strategy is to start by flipping every single piece face up.  While doing so, quickly remove border pieces to a separate pile.  If it’s a puzzle with any obvious sections, I have also found it efficient to sort those into separate piles as I’m flipping.  The key is not to get excited and start building a section before you’ve flipped everything over!  You will definitely regret that.  After everything is right side up and you have, at minimum, your border pieces sorted out, quickly put together your border.  This is probably the fastest part of the whole puzzle and it helps to have your outline.  If you have a lot of sky at the top, or water/grass at the bottom, it gives you something to work with so those parts aren’t as daunting.

I definitely never buy puzzles with less than 1,000 pieces and have recently been really excited about more of a challenge.  I was scanning Amazon earlier today and can you believe it???  They have puzzles with nine thousand, eighteen thousand, and even MORE pieces!!  Whaaaaaat?!  I got my hands on one 2,000 piece puzzle when I was around 12 and it was burned in my memory as a really bad experience.  Not because I didn’t enjoy putting it together, but because it was a garage sale find and those can be hit or miss with actually having all the pieces.  This one was a miss.  To be exact, FOUR pieces were missing when I finished that bad boy and it was quite upsetting for me (the puzzle was a field of pink, yellow, and white flowers and it took me a while to finish!).  Any fellow puzzlers will sympathize with the complete feeling of failure if you finish with even one piece missing.  I never did that puzzle again, but I think it is time to man up and move past that bitter experience.  I’m ready for more 2,000 piece puzzles and hopefully a 9,000 one I’ve been eyeing before too long!  Really, the only reason I didn’t get the 9,000 was because I actually have no safe place to work on it.  Whenever we buy our own house, I’m getting a big puzzle table and then it’s for sure happening!!  Or I could always purchase one of those baby play area things and reverse it’s use…. me with my puzzle in the cage….. my children outside crying to get in….. hmmmm.

I love that Abby has been really into puzzles lately!  We have to keep upgrading her piece count because she’s so good at them!  She started with a 24 piece puzzle for her birthday.  She had that aced within a week.  For Christmas, we picked out a 35 small piece puzzle, thinking it would be a really good challenge.  Too easy!  She was doing it on her own the next day!  Her latest is a 46 piece and I’m already trying to find a good 60 piece for her.  It’s fun watching her puzzling skills improve each day.  I’ll see her doing my personal favorite – the old, eye the piece and pop it right in trick rather than turning and testing endless pieces.  I think it’s cute how she’ll get all of her puzzles out each day.  Then, she goes through and puts each one together at least once.  That’s my girl! 🙂

Three year old with her puzzle


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