Tag Archive | games

Nerd + Crafting

My dear husband, who I promise is an adult and contributing member of society, loves to play D&D with his guy friends.  It is his ‘guys night’ and a bunch of his friends go off and have very creative adventures in the comfort of the livingroom **major bonus of being an adult, they don’t have to be banished to the basement**.  I’ve played occasionally and it is fun enough, but I prefer to have the nice solo night at home where I get to eat a quiet dinner and watch whatever I like on tv.

Anyway, like all hobbies, there are tons of things marketed directly at them.  There are the books and stuff, but then there are the extras and we are the proud owners of a very nice set of spell templates.  They are nicely done truly – you put them on the playing board to show how far your fire ball or ice stream goes.  They came on a giant piece of thin plastic so my first contribution to this was my ability to cut very nicely.



spell sheet from Arc Knight – check them out, they are a great small business


The issue becomes how to carry all these bits…  For scale, that Capt America/Iron Man box is the length of a pencil (and is full of guess what; pencils!).  Some of the spells are wide, some are long, some are very very small…. How to keep them all safe?

I happened to have a yard of super hero fabric and my machines were all set up so instead of folding laundry last night I made this;


Not just a bag!  Imagine how big a fail it would be just put them all in a tote.  The tiny ones would be gone, the long ones would be bent, and one can’t let an opportunity to make tiny pockets pass by.


First of all, I made the side and half the bottom open for easy access.  Husband has big bear paws and if the chaos he leaves looking for a spatula in the drawer is any indication, he needs the ability to see all the pockets.  There are snaps up the side of the bag and velcro on the bottom (wraps up and around so there is a more secure bottom).  The pocket on the left is for the long thing things, across the bottom are all the large triangles and circles, and the wee little pocket on the top are for the little bits.  There is also room for the dice and pencil box and probably a book or 3.

Do you notice more snaps?  I decided that based on the variety of sizes,  small things would get lost in each pocket and to indulge more crafting energy; all the pockets open up for easy access


So other than an oddly unfortunate fabric placement that makes all the small spells seem to be stored in The Hulks armpit, and, it isn’t lined, I’m very happy with it and more importantly so is he.

This took less that a yard and if I was starting again I would integrate the velcro better by just making the back longer than the front so it could fold up neatly.  I thought of the velcro after when snaps were not really making it on the bottom once he asked to store more things.

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!




This weekend made up for last weekend


nap – no sleeping but there is a resting girl

beard – it is not getting compliments, I fear it is here for a while

cat – still alive and getting checked out next week.  Kudos to Aminavast.

House – starting to look good every day, making progress on the black hole corners


This is going to be a bit of a brag, and, a very picture heavy post, but, I am super proud of my girls.  For the past few years, I’ve done the 5k at their school and they were my cheering section.  This year I was actually thinking about skipping (see my list of injury from last weekend) but Tuesday Niamh and Zoe were very excited to sign up and both promised they would run with me.  So I paid the fees and signed them up and crossed my fingers.

Both girls ran!  We started in the front of the group and stayed pretty consistent.  We passed people even.  At mile 1 we had a 9min pace and that was about where Zoe asked just how long this run would be.  There is no way to really describe a distance to a kid, they just have to experience it.  I was very confident that they could both do a mile, it was the second and third that were a question.



waiting on the 8am start line


Mile 2 we still stuck together.  I downloaded some music the night before and played it out loud for the run since setting them up with music and headphones was just not going to work.  I got ‘kids bob’ so I knew it was unoffensive and I think the others generally around us also enjoyed it. Toward the second half of the second mile, Zoe needed some walking breaks so Niamh took off with the gym teacher who was at our pace for a while.  Niamh finished in 32 minutes and 59 seconds!  She said she only walked a tiny bit and that has to be true because 33min is good even for an adult!



running girls!


Mile 3 was hard on Zoe, but, she kept going.  I think she was bored as much as anything.  The weather was perfect, we sang and skipped and I helped her run the majority of mile 3 and we finished in 36min.  I could have gone faster alone, but, I was very happy to run with my kids.  Lars and stroller Fiona finished 1st of the walking group so everyone had a good start to the day.

Saturday started early with that 5k and continued strong.  Lars went to workout and the kids wanted to ride bikes. They rode around the block for nearly 2 hours straight. They now officially have the hang of bike riding.  I was quite tempted to take everyone to the pool so we could have a triathalon, but, we already had plans to go apple picking.


We went picking at our favorite local orchard.  I like that its free to get in, the hay ride is inexpensive, the store is not overly tempting, and the apples are awesome.  It is also very ‘no fuss’ and really only has a few extras but it makes a perfect afternoon.  We brought friends with us so for this particular outing, we outnumbered the kids 2:1.

Apple picking was not the end of the day.  We had a games night planned so the kids got dinner and then too much tv and we had a bunch of friends over.  By 9pm I was yawning but I powered through!



please note my giant table extension that I made this week.


Sunday we were lazy for the morning but we had plans to meet up with an old friend who moved south of the cities.  We met at a midway point at the Mississippi river dam park and it is a wonderful place for kids with bikes.  There was a good ride across the river and down and around to a park with plenty of picnic areas.  The kids had not seen each other for almost 3 years and they were shy to start but by the end, there was “love yous!” and hugs for all.



8 years and still friends!


We called the day a little bit early because everyone was having a good time but it looked like we were coming up to the end of good behavior.  I love when we make the right call because 10 min out of the park it started pouring, and, all 3 kids were asleep in the car.  Since we happened to be by our mecca of a fabric store we stopped in and procured fabric for 3 Halloween costumes BUT I can’t officially talk about them until after tomorrow because that is my sisters birthday, and that is the rule.


So busy, so fun, so outside and athletic and just a good weekend.  In between things we ate and cleaned and got some things done for each activity but in general it was a recharging energizing weekend.


3 hours of sleep


naps – kinda an all day thing

health – see below

house – health dependant – but not too bad


There is a ton of good to a fitbit, the bad though is seeing just how little you sleep some days.

Yesterday Fiona woke up completely fine, by lunch she had a cough, by dinner she was out of sorts.  Bedtime was not fun but she did fall asleep.  By midnight she was groggy awake and calling for me every 15 min.  She was starting to wheeze by 5am and after 2 rounds of breathing machine she is comfortable enough.  The problem is, even if she was breathing perfectly the fact that she only slept about 3 hours last night is pretty bad for a kid who normally needs 11hours.

Good thing today is the last day of vacation so we could all stay in bed until 9.  I stupidly started reading email and got too awake but it is hard to sleep at all when you are worried about if someone will or won’t be breathing…  The entire morning has been TV and zombie Fiona, I managed to sleep next to her and only occasionally had to answer questions to the other kids like ‘who is my favorite mermaid’ – Ariel, always Ariel, even if she isn’t in this show at all.

I’ve added about 2 hours to my 3 so with 5 total I’m functional enough to get the minimums done but Fiona is just in a twilight sleep.  She wants me right next to her.  I think it is time for more medical intervention and thankfully the moms group I’m a member of had a few good suggestion on where to start.  Our ped is very nice and has given generic advice but I’m not confidant that she thinks this is serious (and she is on maternity leave herself).  I liked the guy we saw in the hospital but he only works in the hospital!  Since she is still a nice pink and doing ok at home I’m not going to rush her into something crazy, and, no decisions should be made with less than a full nights rest.

Otherwise the balance of our vacation week has been mellow.  Park time, bike tune ups including taking off the training wheels, one last cookie sale.  We had friends over for dinner and a new game, Time Story.  It is a game you can only play once, but, you need a minimum of 3 tries to actually finish the game so still worth the money.  Good thing we have friends we want to see multiple times to play a game with, and, Lars is very glad I and the other lady on the team have great note taking skills because our notes saved tons of time this time.  I highly recommend the game for 2 couples who like to get together – so far each round has taken about an hour to an hour and a half.


I hear Fiona, time to go back to couch cuddles and handing her sips of ‘ater-gator’.



Thankful Thursday

More than 3 things this week.  Its been a mostly good week (glue eating aside)

#1 they say if you have your health…  Well, I’m healthy and getting a bit more muscle.  It’s a slow thing since I’m really doing more overall muscle things and squats (but I’m not putting my posterior on the internet)  This shows my 6-month change


2. This is a project that took some thinking – I take cool pictures every year of the costumes that I work hard on but then they just live in my computer.  This year I printed them all out and put them up!  Each is just on a piece of scrapbook stock paper and clipped on so they are movable as I feel like rearranging.  So far it has captivated Fiona who spends time every day ‘talking’ to all the pictures since a good portion is on her level.


3.  Speaking of costumes – here is ‘red superhero’.  Most easy costume ever!  The arm things are socks with the foot cut off, and, I made a skirt from tied tuile.  The other parts are purchased and super re-usable. Best thing is she loves it.


4. Told you Halloween would be prominent…  This set of things were snacks for the Daisy troop and they loved them, they will also be reprised in the next 2 weeks lunches.  Fiona was the helper and filled all the popcorn bags, helpers get to eat all that gets spilled right?



5. I made this cake as an answer to the pot luck inspiration ‘rescue’.  As if D&D isn’t nerdy enough I asked the DM to give us a theme for the meal each time that is a hint for the game.  So far its been fun!  I searched the internet and nobody seemed to have a lifesaver cake out there so I made this up from known parts.  It is 1-part ‘jelly’ roll (cake baked super thin on a cookie sheet on parchment paper), 1-part rainbow cake (divide the white cake batter and color, then, stripe the colors onto the cookie sheet), 1-part whipped cream to roll it up with and finally, 1-part lifesaver gummy candy.  I think the long thin IKEA tray also helps, that tray always makes me happy 🙂


6. Last but not least a new game….  We don’t go out much so any ‘entertainment’ budget can go to fun games.  This one is a new twist on the game Pandemic that we love.  It is an ongoing game so you need a group that will keep playing over time AND it evolves like a choose your own adventure novel.  It has 12 ‘acts’ and so many cool things that I can’t wait to play.  Bonus, each game only takes about 1.5 hours so no huge commitment 🙂


This weekend we are taking a road trip that I hope will be full of fun.  I’m looking forward to seeing the western friends!

Thankful Thursday (on Friday)

I had noble intentions about yesterday but that is how things go.

On the bright side yesterday night I got to go to my monthly Mom night out and one of my favourite Mexican restaurants and I had a beer and a coor’s light (nope, not 2 beers) and yapped with a fun group of ladies and we only discussed potty training for about 2 minutes and never mentioned diapers (except for our service project brainstorm – I think we will do a diaper drive for a local charity for very young single mothers).

Today is a sad day in the back of my mind because a friend died suddenly this day last year and I have Time Hop to ever remind me…  But, she was a person who didn’t like other people to be sad and went to great lengths to make sure they weren’t so I wasn’t.  I ended up baking a ton this afternoon while cleaning out the fridge and made a ‘chicken’ pie (using leftover pork roast and refried beans), I baked bread for our planned steak dinner, and brownies because we are going to a bit of a party tonight.  Regardless of how young she died I’m glad for the years I knew her.


And finally, Fiona and I had a fun week doing all sorts of little things.  Still so odd to just have 1 at home, by the time I get used to the solo kid thing its the weekend and I’m back to 3 :).  I’m thankful for the time with Fiona and for the time with all three.


excivating a dino




what if there were two Fionas?!?

Oh – And I was going through my phone I completely forgot that I came in 6th in a 5K, we found a new playground, we went geocaching and took a nature hike with a friend.  We also had a very successful dinner party followed by a revival of the nerdtastic D&D game – Its really not all that different from other board games, just lasts longer and there is wine and good snacks when you do it post high school….  Plenty of reasons to smile this week.

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