Friday, August 29, 2014

Fun Farm Review

   Fun Farm Board Game is a little game for two to ten players ages six and up.

   When you open the box, you will see six foam animals, two dice and a deck of twenty five cards.

   Set up is simple. Place the animals in a circle in the middle of all players. You need to make sure that everyone that is playing can easily reach all of the animals. You will have one person be the Farmer.

   The Farmer will place the first card face up in the middle of the animals.

   Next, the Farmer rolls the dice. If either of the dice match the dice on the cards, players try to grab that animal first. Whoever does this gets the card that was activated by the dice roll.

   Place the card face down in front of you. This is how you score at the end of the game. Place the animal back in the circle and pass the deck of cards to the left. They are the new Farmer for the round.

   If the dice don't match a card in the middle. Leave that card there and place another card in the center. If someone grabs an animal that wasn't activated, they must randomly choose a card from their score pile and place it face up in the center. This card can now be activated again once the dice match the card.

   Make sure you can clearly see all of the cards in the center. They can now all be activated by the dice roll. If there are two cards that have a matching die on it, you can grab any animal that is activated by that roll. If the die roll activates two cards of the same animal, whoever grabs the animal first gets both cards. If cards are activated but are not grabbed before the Farmer adds a new card, the card stays in the middle. After the deck of cards is gone, the game is over. Add up your cards in front of you. Whoever has the most, wins!

   This game is a lot of fun to play as a family. It would be great for birthday parties since it can play up to ten people. I would think this game would be great for younger kids as well, as long as they are on about the same level. My youngest loves the animals. I enjoy playing simplified versions of games with him to help him with matching. This game is perfect for that and he loves being involved on family game nights. I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


   Pinterest is an awesome little tool, unless it sucks you into it's never ending abyss of cool stuff to look at and pin and then never do. Luckily, we have a Pinterest idea for you that is super easy and cheap. It's fun for all ages and kids only need minimal help.

   First, you need some felt, embroidery hoops, and paint if you'd like the hoop to match your felt.

   If you decide to paint, take the center out and paint the outside hoop. You only need to do one of the thin sides and the outside. While that is drying, cut out any pieces you need. You can do as many or as few as you'd like.

   After you cut out what you need, your hoop will probably be dry. Place your base color of felt on the hoop. It is a little difficult to tighten the hoop down because the felt is thick. Make sure you keep the felt tight while you tighten the hoop so you have a good flat surface to work on.

   Next, trim off the extra felt around the edge. If you rather, you can glue it down. Whichever you prefer. You can hang it on the wall so you won't see the back side either way.

   Hot glue your pieces to the front. Since it's felt, you can lay it all out how you want it and it will stay put until you move it to add the glue. Make sure if you are doing this will small children, you help them with the glue.

   You now have an awesome homemade craft to hang on your wall!

   These are so much fun to make and don't take long at all. The supplies are fairly cheap which is even better! Small kids can help by painting the hoops or helping you plan out what they would like to make. There are so many possibilities. You can do groups, different sizes, anything you'd like. I think next we will do the Ninja Turtles!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Love Letter Review

   If you follow any sort of gaming anything, you have probably heard about the fun little game Love Letter by AEG. It was so well received that they are making many different versions of the game. So far, we have three. There is a wedding one you have to order special. You can only get it if you or someone you know is getting married. The one in the box is a Legends of the Five Rings copy. The red one is the original version.

   The game is pretty simple. There is a little baggie with a few cubes in it. These are used to keep track of points. There are cards that tell you how many of each card there are and what they do. The rules also fold up and fit nicely inside of the bag.

   There are sixteen cards in the game. Each card has a number and tells you what the card does.

   Play is simple. Pass out one card to each player. When it's your turn, draw a card. Choose which of your two cards you want to discard and then do what it says. Some let you guess what card people have, Some cards let you look and see what they do.

   You are trying to keep the Princess card. If you have to discard the Princess, you lose that round. If someone plays a Guard and guesses your card, you discard your card and are eliminated from that round. If you get eliminated from the round, don't worry, the rounds are fairly short and you get to join back in the next go around. The round ends after all of the cards are gone or one player is left. Once the draw pile has been used up, the remaining players show what card they have in their hand. The one with the highest number wins that round.

   Whoever gets the number of cubes that are needed to win first, wins the game!

   As you can probably tell, we have sleeved the cards for this game. It's one of the few that we have done this to. It's a game we really enjoy. We take it with us when we go out to dinner to help pass the time while you are waiting. It is a lot of fun for such a small game. My 9 year old loves to play this game with us. It's really easy to learn and the rounds are pretty fast which is nice since people can be eliminated from the game. I highly recommend this game, it's loads of fun!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Let's Play 20 Questions

                It is that time of year and parents everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief. The children will return to school and the parents can return to the world of sanity.  It’s not quite the same with me.  I too am filled with giddy excitement but for a different reason. With the children returning to school,  I know that I will get to actively pursue one of my favorite hobbies, education.  I homeschool my three children and love it.
                As this new school year starts, I'd like to offer a glimpse into homeschooling on our blog.  I thought I’d begin with how I started homeschooling so here goes. It all began with 20 questions...
                A few years ago, my 3rd grade daughter was miserable and bored.  She hated going to school. For a child who loves to learn, I was so worried.   My 1st grade son, who has Asperger’s, was doing well in school but it didn’t seem to challenge him.  His potential was being ignored.  What was I to do?
                That is when I began to consider homeschooling.  Let me say that I applaud all those who work in public education.  While I was unhappy with my children’s school experience, I still approve of public education as a whole.  The problem for me was that it didn’t work for my children.  My journey to homeschooling began with a list of 20 questions I created to help me really learn all about homeschooling. 
                I interviewed several homeschooling parents and asked the following questions:
1. Why did you decide to homeschool your children?
2. What steps did you take in order to prepare for homeschooling?
3. How do you set up the physical environment in your home to accommodate homeschooling?
4. What advantages do you think your child may have over a child who is not homeschooled?
5. What disadvantages (if any) do your children face because they are homeschooled?
6. How often do your children socialize with other children? What do they do when they are together?
7. Do your children participate in any extracurricular activities (i.e. music lessons, clubs, etc)?
8. Do you keep in contact with other families that homeschool?
9. Do you use an on-line public school like Connections Academy or K-12? If so, what do you use and why did you choose it?
10. If you do not use one of the above mentioned programs, how do you decide what to teach your children?
11. How do you measure your child’s progress?
12. What does your daily schedule look like? How many hours a day do you spend on school?
13. How do you find “me” time amidst all the things you have to do?
14. What is the best thing about homeschooling and what is the worst?
15. As you have homeschooled, what has been difficult or frustrating for you?
16. What advice would you give to someone who is considering homeschooling their children?
17. Do you know of any resources that would be of assistance to me if I homeschooled (groups, websites, books, a person, etc.)?
18. How long do you plan to homeschool?(through elementary, middle, or high school)
19. How do you foster independence in your children?
20. How many children do you teach at home and how do you meet their individual needs?

           After considering other homeschooling parents' answers to the questions, I took some time to answer them myself.  My answers were focused on what I would do in the future. 

           And that was the beginning.  After studying the answers of others and my own, I decided homeschooling was just what my kids needed.  This fall I will journey into my 3rd year homeschooling my children and will be working with a 5th grader, 3rd grader, and Kindergartener.    It takes time, effort, dedication, patience, and planning. I won’t say that I don’t have a small GIANT amount of trepidation.  But this is what works for my family. There is an old quote that says, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” My children’s education is more than just my hobby—it is my mission.  It is a good thing I have so much fun homeschooling!   

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rush Hour Review

   Rush Hour is a fun one player game.

   The game is rather simple. It comes with some different sized cars and a grid.

   There is a book with eighty different challenges ranging from beginning to expert. It has the solutions to the puzzles in the back of the book as well.

   To play, choose a challenge out of the book and set up the cars. This one is the first challenge.

   Slide the cars along the grid. You can not pick them up or turn them. They go forward and backwards. That's it. You are trying to clear the exit for the red car to get through. The exit is the space on the right side.

   There is no set number of moves. You can move as many cars as much as you'd like until you can clear out the path.

   Once you get the red car to the exit, you have passed that level.

    I was pretty excited when I saw this game. I used to have a game similar to it on my phone that I would play to help pass the time. My hubby and kids love to play this game. It has been out almost constantly since we got it. This is a great game to give your brain a little exercise or if you need a break. I see this game getting a lot of play!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Thoughts on Robin Williams

   I've debated with myself all day about if I was going to write this post or not. I know one of the last things we need is yet another blog post about the passing of Robin Williams.

   I've struggled a bit with this celebrity death. Usually when one dies, I think things such as "That's too bad" or "I don't know who that is" and I move on with my life. This one is different. I am very aware of who he is. I love Aladdin and every movie I've seen with him in it, has made me laugh. He was so good at bringing laughter and happiness wherever he went.

   I don't really follow celebrities and their personal lives. I didn't know that he struggled with depression or that he had a drug problem. I wasn't too surprised when I found out about the drugs and alcohol, those seem to be a common problem within the celebrity circles. I was surprised to find out about the depression.

   How can someone that was so good at making others laugh and smile be so sad inside. So sad to the point that they feel like they can no longer go on anymore. It made me wonder, if someone that could make anyone laugh at any time, couldn't be happy, then what chance did we have? Those of us that are just regular people going about with our regular lives and our regular struggles we face on a daily basis.

   Then I realized. He is a regular guy with a regular life and regular daily struggles. Depression is something that many people are familiar with. It's not something that just the celebrities, that everyone looks up to and use as roll models, struggle with.

   I have read many articles online since his passing. I've read some that talk about how awesome he was. I've read some that talk about his demons he's been fighting, for a good portion of his life. I've even read some calling him selfish for what he did.

   Reading all of these articles opened a whole new door for me. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a great actor that made people happy and could do a bunch of different voices. I also knew that he was one of my favorite people to watch. Reading these articles, I've learned about his addiction and his struggle to overcome them. I've learned how big of a heart he had and how willing he was to help his friends. I learned about his depression.

   I also learned how mean people can be. I read an article today about how his daughter has had to basically run away from social media because of things people were saying about her father. I understand that some people think that he took the easy way out. Leaving his loved ones behind to deal with the sorrow of him no longer being around. I understand that some people say he is now free. I understand that people think that saying things such as how he is now "free" and "in a better place" can glorify the thought of suicide.

   Here's what I think. I think we need to stop being judgmental. No matter what side of the spectrum you fall on, there is a family out there that is hurting. They have lost someone that they love. Just because they lost him to suicide, doesn't mean that they aren't allowed to grieve and feel the pain and loss. The feeling that they will no longer be able to hear his contagious laugh or the warmth of a hug. The knowledge that they will no longer be able to talk to him on Birthdays or Holidays. Feel the same things that we would feel, as regular people.

   Yes, his passing has hurt many, many people. I think this is a time to use his passing as a reminder that life is short. Hug your family and make sure that they know that you love them. Don't just tell them, SHOW them that they are loved. Use this as a conversation starter to let your children know that they can come to you whenever they need to. Let them know that they can always count on you and you will always be there to support them no matter what they are going through. Use this as a reminder to do something nice for someone else. Everyone has their own battles that they are fighting. Just because they seem small to you, doesn't mean that they are small to them.

   Smile at a stranger today. Make a new friend or call an old one. Let's use this as a reminder to spread a little joy and happiness. There is enough darkness in the world without having to say hurtful things to people that are already going through so much already.

   You never know how someone feels on the inside, so let's all try and spread a little more happiness and laughter and be a little less judgmental.

Easy Pizza Ideas

   My family loves to eat pizza. We probably eat it a lot more than we should. But really, can you blame us? Sometimes the craving of the gooey cheese and piles of vegetables and meat are just too much to pass up.

   Since we like pizza so much, we have a few different variations we make. Yes, there is the regular circle pizza on crust that everyone thinks of when you hear the word "pizza". We have other favorite ways to make this family favorite.

   First, we buy some French Bread. You can buy a loaf for a dollar at Walmart. Cut it in half and chop up any vegetables you would like to add.

   Spread as much sauce on it as you'd like. The bread will soak up the sauce so feel free to lather it on.

   Sprinkle on your cheese and whatever toppings you like. I forgot a few of the vegetables I wanted so we had pepperoni and green onion pizza.

   Next, we put them in the broiler. About five minutes will work. Just keep and eye on it. When the cheese is melted, it's ready. Using the broiler will make it melted and warm but leaves the inside soft.

   Another thing we like to do, is making pizza on tortillas. I found I like the corn ones better. This makes a great snack or meal. You can even throw another tortilla on top and make it quesadilla style. My mother in law makes them in a sandwich maker and calls them pizza pockets. Anyway you make it, my kids LOVE it and will gobble them up faster than you can make them.

   Booth ways are fast and cheap. Depending on how much you put on top of your pizza, it can be made for about $5. This is a great meal for those times when you need something fast or aren't really in the mood for cooking.

   Are there any other pizza variations you enjoy?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Forbidden Desert Review

   Forbidden Desert is a co-op game by Gamewright Games for two to five players

   Inside, there is a nice compartment that holds everything and keeps it from getting mixed up.

   There are six different adventurers:

   Yellow is the Navigator. They can take another person with them up to three spaces. When they take another adventurer, they can use that players special ability as well.
   Red is the Archeologist. They can remove two sand markers from any tile for only one action.
   Black is the Climber. The Climber can go on blocked tiles. They can also take another adventurer with them.
   Green is the Explorer. They can do their actions diagonally.
   White is the Meteorologist.  They can use one action to draw one less storm card at the end of their turn. They may also use one action to look at the number of storm cards equal to the storm level and place one on the bottom of the pile.
   Blue is the Water Carrier. They can take two waters from an already excavated well for one action. They can also share water with people that are on adjacent tiles for free.

   To set up, randomly pass out one Adventurer card to each player. Place a water marker on the top water spot on each card.

   Place the storm tracker in it's base. Place a water marker on the side that has the same number as the number of players. One side has two and three player, the other side has four and five. This is also where you can choose your difficulty level. This game is on the easiest level for two players.

   Mix the tiles and then lay them face down. The compass should be in the same spot on each tile so they are facing the same direction. There should be an empty space in the center.

   Place one sand tile in a diamond formation. The crash site is where your Adventurers will begin.

   Place everything within reach and you are ready to start!

   Each turn consists of taking up to four actions. Actions are: moving your Adventurer, removing sand, excavating (flipping over a tile) and picking up a part.

   After your movement phase is over, draw storm cards equal to the sand storm level. If it is at a two, draw two cards and do what they say. 

   If the card is a Storm Picks Up card, raise the storm meter up one. If the Sun Beats Down, everyone moves their water marker down one. If you are in a tunnel, you do not lose a water.

   There are also storm cards that look like these. They will be either pointing up, down, left or right. The number of squares is the number of tiles that are moved during the storm.

   In this example, it's move one right. You will take the one card on the left side of the open space and move it to the right. Then place a sand tile on each piece that was moved. If there aren't tiles to be moved, you do not have to move any tiles for that card. If you draw a move three tiles and there are only one or two tiles that can be moved, move those tiles and place a sand marker on them.

   You can only excavate tiles that are clear of all sand tiles. When you excavate both tiles for a piece of the flying machine, place the part on the tile where the row and column intersect.

    If the tile you have excavated has gears on the lower right corner, draw a card from the equipment deck. You can use equipment cards at any time. They do not count as an action. You may give your equipment cards to other players that are on the same tile as you.

   As the game progresses, the sand tiles will pile up. Once there is more that one sand tile on a tile, you will flip the sand tile over to the darker side with an X is on top. This means that tile is blocked and you can not pass on it until it is down to one sand tile (unless you are the Climber). If there is a part to the flying machine on a tile with more than one sand tile, you must remove the sand and excavate the tile before picking up the part.

   There are three tiles marked as water. They have the little water drop in the bottom right (first tile). Two of the tiles are wells (second tile) but one is a mirage (third tile).

   When you excavate a well tile, each player on that tile receives two additional water. You will want to make sure anyone that needs water is on this tile when it is excavated.

   The game ends in a few ways. 
   If you get all of the parts to the flying machine and all of the adventurers make it to the launch pad, you win!
   If anyone runs out of water, the storm meter reaches the top or if you get buried (run out of sand tiles), you have lost to the Forbidden Desert.

   This game is pretty fun. If you like co-op games, I think this is a good one to have. It can be stressful at times, especially at the end. It's pretty easy to play and learn. It has a lot of both strategy and luck. You can have a plan ready and then the storm cards can mess it all up. Since it is a co-op game, it's one you can play with your kids. You never know, they just might have the way to win all planned out!