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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

6 of the very best family game night games everyone will love.

Hands down, our most favorite way to spend time as a family is around the dinner table playing games. Family game night started years ago when our kids were still pretty little with games like Spot it, dominos, and go fish. There are so many fun games for every age group and a lot of them are actually fun for grown-ups, too!

Tenzi is a quick, dice rolling game. Roll ten of the same number, yell "TENZI!" You win! It's fast paced and doesn't take long to play, which is nice when you have a little downtime. We like Tenzi because you can play straight from the case, or make it even more fun with THESE cards. The cards have patterns, and bunches of different ways to get "Tenzi!" This is great for kids of all ages. Number recognition, motor skills practice, and quick movements... all while having a rolling good time! There are a couple different cases you can buy. One with four sets of dice and another with eight. We bought both and then figured out that this game is even better the more people you have playing so we bought a bag of 20 sets of ten dice to accommodate a larger crowd, That way no one is ever left out. Bonus, this game is good for kids 5 and up. If they can count dots, they can play.

Ticket to ride is a fun strategy game. The object is to build a train from one destination to another based on cards you draw. There are bonus points if you build the longest train, which is always my goal. If you have a few hours to burn, Ticket to Ride is a super fun game. Time flies when we play. It's great, too, because it helps with Geography without kids knowing they're learning! Plus, you can buy this extension pack for even more fun! Best for players 8 and up. If you like Ticket to Ride, you might like another game called Swashbuckled. I bought our Swashbuckled game at Swiss Days 2017 in Midway, Utah. My sister-in-law and I went on the last day. The creator of the game was running one of the vendor booths and was trying to pack up the last of his inventory and offered me a great deal. It is a time-consuming game, but one that we love. You can find their website HERE.

Cover Your Assets makes it okay to steal from your neighbor. ONLY in the card game. There are ten sets of ten asset cards and gold and silver wild cards. The goal is to match up and collect the assets and then cover them up before someone steals them from you. Cover your Assets is a hilarious, nailbiter of a game that makes you take risks strategizing how to steal from your neighbor all while trying to protect the piles of cards in front of you. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.  This is easily one of our top favorite games right now. It's easy to learn and takes about  15 minutes to play a round, but I can almost guarantee you won't be ready to stop after just one. 

Qwirkle is an excellent color and shape mix and match game. It reminds me of Scrabble because it is on wooden tiles and you lay it out like a crossword puzzle, matching shapes or colors. This is one of the best games for a family with a wide range of ages. Our kids started playing Quirkle at age four and still love it now that they are much older. This is the perfect game for family game night beginners as well as the seasoned pro. It is different every time we play and never gets boring.

Farkle is a dice game of luck and chance. Ones and fives count for points as well as combinations of pairs, triples, runs and other dice combos. If you don't have any of those numbers or combinations you Farkle, losing all the points you accumulated that round. It's only a little more complicated than Tenzi, however still appropriate for players 7 and up. 

6. Wacky Six

Wacky Six is great because it is like solitaire in a group. Everyone plays their cards in their hand, on the table, and in their stack of cards. We love Wacky six because it is a fantastic game for number recognition. It's fast-paced and a round typically takes 5-10 minutes. Plus, it's a great introduction to other games, like Nertz.

A few other suggestions: Headbandz, BellzPass The Pigs, and Canasta. There are so many fun family games out there! What are your favorites?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

essential DIY room spray

I am very sensitive to smells. I always have been. I can smell a dirty gym sock from across the house and down the stairs. When I was pregnant with my first, I could always smell garlic. If you had garlic a week ago, I'd probably still smell it.

Because of my hound dog nose, it's very important to me that my house stay smelling fresh and clean. I have a secret that I use that doesn't involve candles or plug-ins...
It's the easiest mixture, made of things you probably already have on hand. Are you ready for your house to smell amazing? Here is my recipe:

I cup water
1 tsp. fabric scent beads 
1 TBS. Fabric softener
2 tsp. baking soda

Pour all the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake it up! 
Spray on all soft surfaces in your home. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Kindness Rocks

About a month ago, while in the grocery store parking lot, my son who LOVES rocks, found a painted rock. I was surprised that we'd found a kindness rock in Georgia, I had assumed that painting and hiding Kindness Rocks was sort of a Utah things. It was a fun find that definitely had it's desired effect on us, we are still smiling about that rock.

Finding that rock inspired us to come home and paint rocks to hide. We painted all kinds of things. Everything from campfire scenes, and dinosaurs, to garden gnomes and ballet slippers. We had a blast! And, as it turns out, it's a thing! There is a trend going around, called Kindness Rocks. You paint rocks and then hide them. So fun and so simple. 

1. Find rocks 
You can buy smooth rocks at Hobby Lobby, but we just went outside and collected rocks we thought would work. Try to find rocks about the size of a child's fist or smaller that are smooth textured. We like funkily shaped rocks, but round ones are just as fun. Once you have gathered as many rocks as you would like to paint, wash and dry your rocks, making sure they are free from any dirt or mud so that the paint will adhere to the surface better.

2. Basecoat
Coat the entire surface of the rock with a coat of paint.  If the paint looks thin, you can give it another coat or two. You will want to be sure to allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step. 

3. Design
Design and paint your rock any way you like. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest if you need an idea to get you started. Let it dry.
 4. Gloss
Once your design is completely dry, coat the entire surface with ModPodge, clear nail polish, or spray lacquer.

5. Hide!
Now, get out there and hide your rocks. There are some social media groups you can join where people post pictures of where they are hiding rocks and also pictures of the rocks they find. It's a great way to connect.

I'd love to see what you created! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tips you need before moving long distance with kids

My husband and I have never really been the kind of people who like to sit still for very long. In our nearly 16 years of marriage we have moved more than a dozen times, most of those moves happened early in our marriage, before kids. But since having kids, we have moved five times. Three of those moves have been cross country, including our most recent move from Utah to Georgia. We just love new adventures!

I love moving! Actually, moving stinks. What I meant to say was: I enjoy new starts, making new friends and exploring all the sights and sounds of a new city. The actual moving part is kind of the pits! However, I have a few tips and tricks that we use that make moving to a far away location with kids (and just moving in general) a little less stressful. 

1. Activities

Preplanned activities are crucial to a stress-free, long distance move. I'm not huge on screen time. My kids do not have phones. So, when I was preparing for the move, I wanted to be sure and have a lot of fun things to keep them busy in the car. We have a couple tiny DVD players that had been gathering dust in storage that we packed into a storage bin with a few DVDs I knew would keep them entertained. Plus they had their tablets. The part they liked best was all the travel games we brought. The best part is, they still play them at home! These are a few of our most favorite:
2. Snacks

Snacks are everything on a road trip. We try to pack healthy snacks that will help keep our energy up, like apples, carrot sticks, and jerky. But it's fun to have other snacks too. In previous moves, we prepackaged little gallon size snack bags for each of the kids full of smaller snack bags of snacks. It worked out okay. This time I filled a storage tote with individual "fun size" snacks and it worked a lot better for us. I think the biggest surprise for me was that the most sought after snacks were Stretch Island fruit leather, Mrs. Calls Cinnamon Sugar caramels, and pretzels, as well as grapes and mini cucumbers from the cooler.  (on a side note, chocolate does not travel well. Unless you love cleaning as much or more than you love chocolate, I would suggest choosing treats that are chocolate-free!)

 3. Be prepared

 Our move took us nearly 2,000 miles and over 32 hours to drive. Just as we were leaving, my trusty Subaru decided we wouldn't need A/C and started blowing hot air on us. IN JUNE!!! I thought I was going to die! We tried charging it with one of those cans of Freon you can buy at the grocery store, but that didn't work. I was so grateful I had thought to buy these spray bottle fans! They were so helpful in keeping us cool! I also stocked up a small first aid kit with things like band-aids, hand sanitizer, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Benedryl, and motion sickness buckets (I was especially grateful I had thought of this beforehand!). 

4. Plan for stops...

But know that your plans will probably change. My husband and I made driving goals for each day and booked hotels before leaving. This worked to keep us motivated, but it made it difficult because we had a few hiccups along the way that put us behind schedule and driving much later than we had initially intended. If I was mapping it out again, I would set a goal destination for each day, but wait to book the hotel room until we were on the road (parked in a parking lot, of course. Let's not book hotels and drive!). It's not a good thing to push yourself to keep driving when you're exhausted. Also, plan for stretch and bathroom breaks. Know where clean rest stops and gas stations are along your way. 

5. Pack with storage bins

We used Rubbermaid totes. Nothing broke in the move and everything fit like magic. Skip the boxes! Plastic totes are the way to go!

6. Set the kids' rooms up first

One of the things that I have found to be the most effective way to help kids settle into a new home is by making their space the top priority. It can be very tempting to set up the living room or kitchen but trust me, your kids will be much happier if they have a space that feels like home with familiar things from their old room. Let them help you choose the layout of the room, set up and make their beds so that the first night in their new room is spent sleeping in their own, familiar bed.

7. Have fun!

Moving is stressful and hard. But try to stay positive. Sing. Laugh. We like to tell our kids that someday they will look back at this summer and smile because it was a grand adventure that will lead to many more adventures to come.

Do you have a tip or trick for moving? I would love to hear from you!