Archive | January 2017

Ticket to Ride with little kids

I’m talking about a game, Ticket to Ride, not an actual outing.



picture from the official site, check them out for all the versions of the game.  

We call it the train game because, you know, it is all about trains!  And when your kids can’t read yet, whatever is on the cover becomes the name of the game.


Officially, this game is for ages 8+ (now they actually have a kids version, this is a modification of the original).   When we got it was my job as game-mom to find a way to play with (2,4,6 year old) kids.  It actually was VERY EASY to modifytt-inside-940

In ticket to ride, the main action is collecting cards of different colors that you use to make routes between cities, some routes are ‘any color’ (gray) or a specific color as shown on the map.  There are points earned for completing routes and more points for bigger routes.  There are also specific route cards (tickets) you are dealt like “NewYork to Seattle” that give you MORE points if you complete.  This is a fun game for adults but for kids it has some really great skills that can be learned;


  • color matching
  • counting – both for how many cards you need in a route, and, in scoring
  • minor geography – unlike Pandemic, these cities are pretty much where they should be so learning where NY and Seattle and Dallas are in the US is a good thing to get a head start on.
  • Strategy/map reading – you need to plan your route, in an era of GPS I need ways to teach this.
  • general sportsmanship, the game has a score and you need to be ok with that. <- some adults need lessons here too

My Theory on game modification;

  • I want the kids to be able to play the ‘real’ version when they are able so I can’t change too many rules
  • I want to keep the spirit of the game
  • I want them to be able to play independently so I made two levels of modifications

Modification for ages 4-7 (before good reading skills)

  1. Each child gets a different coin (or other marker) that gets placed on the cities they are building routes between.  yes, this eliminates the secrecy of what your route might be, but, see my next modification…
  2. Play open hand, show all the cards and be kind about placing routes
  3. That’s it, play as normal, kids are pretty good at turn taking and card collecting.

*Sometimes if attention is waning we just say we are playing ‘first to 100’ so in that case we get the points for route completing right away, or, we put a time limit and score at the end of 20 minutes.

I’ve found that other than reading level, games have age minimums based on ability to pay attention for any length of time, not intelligence for the game dynamic.

Modification for under 4 (but old enough not to eat the pieces)

  1. throw out the concept of special routes and just collect cards and connect cities.  Still gets the color matching, card collecting, and fine motor coordination.

or –

2. give them all the extra trains and let them make patterns on the table.  You would be amazed how well they like that.  They can also be ‘in charge’ of putting out the next card, or, you can give them the discards to shuffle until you need them again.


I believe in family games and time together and with just a few modifications most games can suit most little pre-readers.  Now that the kids are older they are wicked good at this game and you might think I coddled them with kind playing, some innate competition gene is expressed as they cut off off each other and see the value of getting a contested section of track asap just like any adult.  Give it a try with your younger kids!





So I was mad at the internet….

Unfortunately, too much of my life is wrapped up in it so I’ve been making do with my limited wireless and junky apps and it just seemed like a kick in the pants when the (alleged) answer to my prayers arrived



eyeballs are an aftermarket accessory….


and made me have ZERO wireless!!!

So if you have an iPhone and can’t connect to your multiband TP-Link booster, what worked for us finally, was to make sure that you have the right options checked for the ‘primary’ band and ‘boosted’ band to match.  iPhones are selective like that.  Long story short, I’m happy to be able to check my email from bed.

Very glad in fact, because I’ve contracted whatever kennel cough the kids have been passing around for weeks and I just want to stay warm in bed.

However, progress must be made in life, and I successfully got my weekly contract and volunteer work squared away.  I’m looking at a disorganized crazy kids room as my afternoon project.  I am hopeful that this weekend we will feel ready to tackle the biggest project in the house… the office…

Internet frustration

I am frustrated with our internet….

  • First it has started getting smaller and smaller.  I tease my parents that the internet has tides because it really does ebb and flow in their house and I think I’m beginning to believe my own nonsense.  The internet has slowly receded in our house so now it only works in our main areas.  This is insanely frustrating because I like to check email and facebooks and blogs before I go to bed or when I wake up.  I got a notice from my wireless that I’m over 75% of data use already because I keep using it in MY HOUSE!
  • Earlier this month it was out for a day.  That was annoying.  It was at least not my major work day so just frustrating in general…
  • Today it went out AGAIN in the middle of me doing something time sensitive.  I called and got the ‘we are working on it…’ line and 4 hours later it is back, but, I had my day really really packed with hows and computer work stuff and I am not happy to have my day flopped around.  I used my time to clean things that needed cleaning but I really hate my plans getting derailed.
  • Two apps I use all the time are fritzing out on me.  Wordpress won’t let me upload pictures and Facebook won’t let me get into the pages I manage on my phone.  Both super frustrating because I like to do bits of work from the gym on the elliptical…
  • I’m also frustrated with myself for being so dependent on this interntet.  My audio book is only part downloaded, my music is via pandora and so is my news.  I could go tune the radio in but I would have to seriously dust it first.  All my work is tied to internet and so are the majority of my social connections.  I DO go out, but, for all the far away people I can’t just jet around the country weekly to say Hi.  I was also planning on researching ‘wireless strength’ today, using the internet, and that has to go on a list for tomorrow because there isn’t even a book in the library that would cover that and I’m short on time today…


So that is my vent.  Obviously it came back.  I got 2 clients done and I’m waiting on one to do his work.  On the positive I didn’t have to worry about stopping work to do my 250 steps per hour.  I also have a super clean bathroom and I did a good job on our hall, a spot I almost never clean thoroughly but since I had time….

It wasn’t really super bad, but here is the cluttered and dusty and snow boot dirty hall;


And here is the after I rehomed the extra sweatshirt collection, moved out the random pocket debries, moved the bag collection to where it belongs with grocery bags heading out to the car, and, I dusted the pretty things I like to have in the hall.


This space is enemy #1 in our house because it is so small and people get whacked by doors because they are taking off boots but for want of a builder we are semi-stuck with it.  At least now it looks nicer for the moment 🙂

No Obligation but if you would like to…

Donate to my kids read-a-thon!

This is a program that I actually believe in enough to post.  The school retains 80% of donations and the kids get decent prizes.  (So many fundraisers keep up to 50%, those I don’t really bother with)

School is also getting behind this one because it is actually educational, unlike selling wrapping paper etc where you have to squint and say “they learn about money and change…maybe?”.  Every couple days they have an extra fun thing for reading during the read-a-thon.

Zoe                   Niamh                      Fiona

The last day is Thursday so if you feel like donating to a good cause; ie – the PTO that funds the extras that make school fun, consider clicking and donating for one of the kids (or all three!)

I have no idea if putting this out to you all will work at all, but, you can’t say yes if I never ask!

Apparently things are not publishing…


You are going to have to believe me on this, but, Wednesday I put up a ‘wordless Wednesday’ post and yesterday I did a 3 things Thursday that while not curing cancer or marching on Moscow – I was wondering why I got zero ‘dings’ of approval.  Something must be amiss with my phone app for publishing.  I suppose you get what you pay for.

To fill you all in, Wednesday was this

A picture of Zoe home ‘sick’.  She actually did have a horrible gacky sounding cough, but, so does nearly everyone and in my opinion not a reason to stay home.  However, Zoe is nearly never sick and with both sisters having sick days in the past week she needed some quality time.  She also did wake up in the middle of the night congested and since that is so rare for her it did freak her out and she was of the opinion that the end was near.  Daddy decided she should stay home and while it was not something I would have done, it was a good call because she needed the quiet day.  I gave her tea and fruit and she stayed cozy all day.  At one point she did get bored and said she wished she was at school and that she did feel much better…


I do want to also point out that I now have a milk pitcher!  The thrift store finally had something of the right size for kids to pour.  It isn’t gorgeous but it also isn’t ugly (well, too ugly) so that means that if it breaks I won’t be sad.


Thursday turned out to be a very very busy and fun day.  I started out with the normal bustle but then went directly to coffee with the moms club.  We had a nice chat that included the startling news that our city council is trying to get rid of the Police Department in Forest Lake!  I would like to see their numbers for rational why, but, I’m against taking away one of the reasons we have such a good community!  Next one of the moms and I hit up a second hand store to find some workout gear for Lars.  He is actually going to 2 or 3 classes a week and his current collection featured sweat pants from the early 90’s complete with holes and paint stains.  He had some nice stuff but not enough…  Before now he had been working out in a dojo so he had a Gi (or 7) and now he has decent workout stuff again and that prime specimen of a sweat pant is now in the rag bin.

There was still more for Thursday!  I had a normal afternoon with Fiona and housework etc and then at 5 Lars and I went to a serious ab workout class (in his new gear!).  He took charge of the kids and I went off to a School Board committee meeting.  I had to skip the actual board meeting because I had another board meeting for MOMS club to run over to followed by dinner and drinks with the Moms.  Busy busy night and way more than three things.

Today was American Presidental inauguration day.  I’m divided on the president.  I believe in the office and the system and like the monarchy – the citizen that takes the crown BECOMES the Crown and the office.  He is a controversial figure for sure but I tuned in and listened to his speech.  This is me at the moment of the presidential oath of office.  Things here are about the same. file_000

Now for a weekened of no plans, but, I have things to do always!  2 kids and 2 sleepovers to start and fill in the details as we go.

Monday not Monday

If there were stats on things I blog about, my Monday issues would be top ten.

Kids have off AGAIN.  Technically last week they went to school, but, Niamh was sick so I had one child home.  Next week they are also off on Monday…  This is a nice thing to have time off together because Lars had today off too (something I always forget so it is a nice surprise), but, it messes up the integrity of my Monday.

On the up side, we went to a new workout class that Lars really loved and I’m fine with.  Something that hits both of us well is rare so that is great.  The kids played really nicely all day and I got a bit more work than I expected done even.  I was not feeling ‘right’ this morning so Lars took kids off to go sledding and I read and slept and feel rested if not ‘right’.  Fiona’s swim class was good and I got a nice little walk while she swam.

On the down side, being off my game never feels good. I only got one load of laundry done.  I lost the key to the gym lock and didn’t even want to mess with somehow getting the spare from home etc (Lars is out) so just asked the lady to cut it off.  Apparently, this is very common and I’m 3rd today.  I am glad that this was a minor blip and I hardly feel bad about it even.  Sleeping for 2 hours in the day means not a lot of other things got done but there is always tomorrow.  Fiona was sick over the weekend and feels better but is also not 100% so I’m

The weekend was mellow and fun.  Babyshower went over well, mom to be was happy.  Played some games, did a bit of housekeeping, replaced a kitchen light (thought it was a bulb, ended up being the fixture) and now the kitchen is brighter than the sun.  Kids had a bit of a hard weekend playing together and Fiona was sick with what Niamh probably had the week before.  The random germ seems to be fast, with a lousy feeling and then a medium fever all within 24h and then fine the next day.  I’m expecting my fever to start any time now and looking forward to being better tomorrow.  To that end, I hear peppa pig ending so I’ll bundle a fed, washed and very tired Fiona into bed and pre drink some fluids.