Friday, November 17, 2017

Great Gift Review - Color Huey and the Four Seasons

My kids really like playing board games, but if I'm being honest... I don't find it quite as enjoyable as they do. For one thing, my oldest will be six in three months and my youngest turned three two months ago. In case you've never tried playing a board game with a three year old - it can be tricky. And since my son can handle more complicated games while my daughter doesn't want to be left out, trying to play a game that both of them can enjoy without me going insane is not easy. Plus, a lot of the games that are made for young kids are mind-numbingly boring for adults.

But my friend Sara recently started selling games through SimplyFun, and she asked if I'd like to try one out and review it. I wasn't totally sure until I looked through their catalog and saw that there were quite a lot of games that didn't look horrendously awful. (Actually, they looked so non-awful that I ended up buying three more games to give to my kids for Christmas.)

We picked the game Color Huey and the Four Seasons. Each player chooses a card with a picture of Huey (a caterpillar, worm-type-thingy) on it. For each turn, the player reaches into a bag full of colored circles and pulls one out, hoping to pull out a color he/she needs to fill in all of the circles.

The beauty of the game is that it's a challenge (and fun) for both my three-year-old and five-year-old. One side of each board shows Huey wearing a different-colored pair of shoes on each segment of his body, while on the other side, each segment has a color word spelled out on it (and no colored shoes) so that players have to match the color to the word. In kindergarten, colors are some of the sight words that my son has been learning, so it's great practice! My daughter, on the other hand, can practice matching colors. (The color words and the colored shoes are in a different order on every card, so the kids can't just memorize where the pieces go, they have to actually read/match the colors.)

There's also an element of cooperation. If you pull a color circle that you already have on your own card, you have to pass that color to another person who needs it. So players can strategize together and maybe decide to team up to ensure that one of them wins and their mom loses, for example. Not that MY children would do that (they totally did).

The game itself is well made. Each card is made out of a thick cardboard, and there's a cloth bag to store the colored circles in. I was happy that it wasn't flimsy, especially since my kids aren't exactly gentle with games. (As you'll see in the video. Yikes!)

My kids LOVED the game, and it's simple enough that after they learned the rules, they could play together without me (which was beautiful after I played it with them five times in a row and they wanted to keep going).

Simply Fun has a ton of games that are actually educational but kids just think they're fun. You can search for games by subject matter so that they can work on specific skills like reading or math, or you can search by age. (I bought my five-year-old the game Math Room for Christmas so he can practice addition.)

You can follow Sara's Facebook page here. And only until Sunday (11/19), they're having their biggest sale of the year on games! So if you need a good gift for a kid in your life and you DON'T want to give them a cartoon-themed toy (which, let's be honest, I'm also giving my kids for Christmas), now's the time to stock up on some fun games!

(Also, I tried to have my kids make a review video of it, and it was hilariously bad! So naturally I'm sharing it.)

*Disclosure - I was given this game for free in exchange for my honest opinion.*

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Please Don't Tell Me to "Just Wait"

It happens at least once a month. I’m in the grocery store with my two kids. They are riding together in the much-loved race car shopping cart, holding hands or hugging or snuggling with arms draped over one another’s shoulders. They are both giggling over something: a game they made up, maybe. The one that just involves shaking each other’s arms up and down while you laugh.

An older parent sees them: my two little love bugs who bicker just like any other siblings but who are best friends and utterly inseparable. The parent smiles and approaches. “They’re so sweet together!” And this is the point where I wish they would stop. Smile and let me smile back and then we can each happily go our separate ways. But they don’t stop there. They never do. “Just wait. They’ll be at each other’s throats before you know it.” Sometimes I’m given a timeframe: “Just wait, they’ll hate each other when they’re teenagers” if the parent is feeling generous. “Just wait, in six weeks they’ll be fighting nonstop” if they’re not.

Honestly, I don’t think they’re trying to be mean when they say it. Perhaps they’re trying to warn me, to help me brace myself for the inevitable. Maybe they’re remembering when their own kids were little and wishing that this kind of sibling relationship had lasted just a little longer. But however it’s meant, whatever the motivation behind it, it always sounds the same in my ears: "I can see that your kids are getting along right now. That for one, brief, beautiful moment, parenting feels easy and you think you’re actually doing a reasonably good job at this whole mom thing. So I feel that it is my job as a complete stranger to let you know that soon your kids will be crying and you’ll be crying and everyone will be crying and life will be terrible. Just wait."

But this minute of peace in the shopping cart is all I’m clinging to some days. The holding hands in the grocery store is what my one last shred of sanity is hanging on. Because last week I was wiping endless snot from both noses, and the week before that I cleaned up a whole lot of puke. There was a temper tantrum as we were getting ready to leave the house this morning because my two-year-old hates pants and another one because I had the audacity to try to help my five-year-old buckle himself into his car seat, and then as soon as we were finally all dressed and buckled and actually in the minivan ready to go, somebody needed to poop. I’m tired, and I have a nagging fear that I am screwing everything up. But at least my kids love to hold hands in the grocery store. Yet it seems like every time my kids openly get along with each other in public, someone feels the need to come over and stomp on the moment.

I know that things change, parents of older children. I’m only five years into this parenting gig, but I’ve learned a few things about change here and there. The baby who was my “good sleeper” gave up naps completely when she turned two, and my “good eater” recently declared that a dinner he has always loved “tastes like bleh.” I realize that nothing stays the same and that kids change overnight. I grew up as the middle child in a family with three children, and believe me, I know first-hand how much siblings fight. I’m not under some weird delusion that my children will be the first brother and sister in the history of the universe who get along every second of their lives, spending their twilight years sitting side-by-side in a retirement home, reminiscing about how they never once fought, not one single time in 85 years. 

But right now, they really like each other. Right now, they are best friends. Right now, they are holding hands in the shopping cart. Please just let me enjoy that.

It’s not just good moments that elicit a “just wait” response, either. Heaven help the pregnant mother who declares herself to be tired. “You think you’re tired now??? Just wait until you have a newborn waking you up every thirty-five seconds all night long!!” Don’t dare complain about the terrible twos, because – just wait – age three is so much harder. If things are going well, just wait, they’ll be bad soon, and if things are already bad, well – just wait, they’ll get worse. I’m not saying these things aren’t true, I’m just saying they’re not helpful.

Parents who’ve had more experience than I have: I love talking to you. It’s reassuring to know that my kids won’t still be begging to sleep in my bed when they’re 16 or going to college in diapers. Your “been there, done that” attitude can be so helpful in reminding me that no stage of childhood lasts forever. Last month, a mom at an indoor water park watched my kids playing happily in the shallow end of the wave pool. We smiled at each other, and I said hello. She told me that she’d taken her daughter to the water park every year when she was little, and that she’d brought her back again this year for her sixteenth birthday. The daughter and her friends were off riding slides together, and the mom was reminiscing as she watched my little ones splash around. We chatted for a few minutes, both watching my kids play with their daddy, then went our separate ways. And I loved the reminder to enjoy the moments when my kids are always nearby, when I am their favorite person in the world. Keep reminding me of that, experienced parents. Tell me your stories. Share your wisdom.

But please – don’t tell me to just wait. 

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"So Glad They Told Me" Book Giveaway!

As some of you may remember, last year I had an essay published in an awesome book about motherhood called "So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood". I was so excited then, and frankly I'm still so excited now! I have at least three copies in my house, and sometimes I think "I should totally autograph this book for myself" and then I don't because that's weird. Right? Is that weird??

Anyway, since I have more copies of the book than I actually need, I figured I might as well give a copy to one of you! Want to win it? Here's how to enter:

1. Like my blog's Facebook page. (If you already like my Facebook page, ta da, you're already halfway done!)

2. Comment on this post on my blog's Facebook page with your own "Get Real About Motherhood" moment. It could be anything - a photo of your giant pile of laundry or the Legos taking over your living room, a description of what you fed your kids for dinner (frozen pizza, anyone??), your most embarrassing or awesome or terrifying motherhood experience - whatever! Just get real about motherhood with me.

3. That's it. Seriously, those are all the steps. We're parents; we don't have time for some long, ridiculously involved contest entry form. There's probably a kid asking you for a snack RIGHT NOW.

(If you want to share the post on your timeline so your friends can participate, too, that would be awesome and I will be eternally grateful, but Facebook says I can't make that an entry criteria, so it's not!)

And because I have to, here are the Complete Terms and Conditions:
Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada 18 years old and older, except where prohibited by law. (But if you live in a place that has a law that says you can't win a free book, maybe you should move.)
One entrant will win a free copy of the book So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood, ARV $11.99
Contest runs from May 30, 2017 through Friday, June 9, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm EST.
This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook, and if you enter the contest, you agree to release them from any liability, though I'm not sure how there could be liability with giving away a free book, but it's important to them that you release them from it anyway, so RELEASE.
Winner will be chosen at random on or before Sunday, June 11, 2017 and will be notified via Facebook. If the winner doesn't respond with an address for me to send the book to by Sunday, June 18, 2017, they forfeit their prize, and I will choose another winner at random.

So go ahead, what are you waiting for?? Enter!!

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