Our Favorite Family Board Games

Growing up, my family played games every Saturday night. For a lot of my growing up years, we didn’t have TV and so this was the one night of the week that got to relax and have some treats. We always rotated who picked the games and then we also always had a treat- usually either popcorn or half of a candy bar. Yes, that was a HUGE treat for a family who lived in a rural village in West Africa.

I wouldn’t call myself a “gamer”, but I do enjoy a good board game with some of my favorite people. Although, I won’t lie…anyone who knows Theo knows that he is one of those “lucky” people who always seems to pick the right card, roll the right number on the die and just generally win every single game he plays (whether the game is based on luck or strategy!). My competitive nature sometimes gets in the way when we play games, but for the most part we keep it civil.

Tera has quickly taken to games and LOVES to play games. It is SO fun seeing her start to grasp some strategy concepts and be able to focus all the way through the games. We have found so many fun games that are easy enough for her to play, and fun enough for us to not also be board out of our minds.

I thought I would do a fun little roundup of our tried and true favorite games. This is not all the games we’ve ever played, but just the ones we own that I would recommend you owning, too!

Kid-Friendly Games

Outfoxed

This one is SO fun! It’s a cooperative game that is great for kids, but also keeps the adults entertained. It’s similar to Clue in that you are trying to figure out who did it by receiving clues throughout the game. It’s our go-to when we need to include kids in a game, but also want the adults to not be bored out of their minds.

Richard Scary’s BusyTown

In this game, the kids move along the path candy-land style to get to the end. When a child lands on the “find it” space, all players look for certain items on the board (ice cream cones or fire hydrants or bicycles or whatever the card tells them to look for).

Matching Memory Game

You can’t go wrong with memory! We happen to have this set and the kids love it. We also love this one because adults can play and not be too bored. We also use the set to play Go Fish!

How Does Your Garden Grow

I snagged this one a few years ago and it’s one of our favorites! Players draw leaf colors to match up with their garden. But beware! If you draw a pest, you have to give up parts of your garden! The first player to complete their garden wins. Tera can fully comprehend this game at age 4.

Life

This one is still a little above our kids heads, but Heavenly (age 11) loved it! Even my younger kids like spinning the spinner and moving their little cars and being told what their cards say, so it’s a win for all!

Family Games

Settlers of Catan

This classic just hasn’t gotten old yet! Every time we play, it’s different and the strategy has to be adjusted accordingly. It can get super competitive, though!

Ticket to Ride

Can you ever go wrong with Ticket to Ride? I think not (unless Theo gets nine straight tickets and beats you by 100 points)! Each player works individually to complete their train routes- but watch out because it gets crowded on the board with everyone working towards completing their own routes and possibly blocking other players! It’s also one that changes every time it’s played, and therefore the strategy needs to be different each time!

There are many different versions of this game, but the US one is still my favorite.

Pandemic

This is a new game in our rotation, and is a cooperative game, so all the players are working together to beat the game. The world is being taken over by viruses and as a team, you have to stop them. It’s very fun and intense!

Dutch Blitz

Oh, Dutch Blitz. My one claim to fame. I was a beast at this game back in my glory days! It’s a very fast paced card game where everyone is taking their turn at once. It’s fairly simple in that you simply have to match colors and be able to count to 10- but also do it very FAST. Faster than everyone else. It also gets very competitive and is best played with people of equal ability levels (it just isn’t as fun if one person is really really fast and the rest are slow).

Sequence

This is a fun one that is played on teams and is a little slower and less competitive than the ones I’ve listed above. Teams work together to try to get five in a row without being blocked and while simultaneously trying to block the other teams from getting five in a row. Very simple and fun! Also, sequence has many different variations and even a fun kids version!

Pass the Pigs

This pig rolling game is always fun and super simple! I love how small and compact it is! Players take turns rolling two pigs. They way that they land gives different levels of points. Players can continue rolling and save all their points or accidentally roll a zonk configuration that causes them to lose all their points! My kids love this one and it’s also very helpful for teaching addition skills!

Tripoly

This is the only game I’ve ever played that literally has NO STRATEGY. I’m not even kidding when I say that. It sounds impossible, but it’s all luck. This is a fun one to play with a calm party group or to sit down and play with your Grandma. Players draw and lay cards and based on what was dealt to them they collect chips. It’s a great game to play while having conversation because it doesn’t require too much concentration.

 

Two-Person Games

Backgammon

Our favorite two person game is backgammon! We love to pull this one out after the kids go to bed to play!

 

Games on Our Wish List

Count Your Chickens

This looks so fun! And bonus points that it teaches number sense for our little ones.

Forbidden Island

Cooperative games are the newest craze in games, and this one is fun! Players play together to try and prevent the island from sinking.

Cat Bingo

Because Bingo can entertain anyone for awhile. I love games that my kids can play, and I can’t believe we don’t own Bingo! This also comes in Dogs, Birds, Ocean Animals, etc. I can see this coming in very handy during homeschooling!

Organ Attack

This sounds like one of those silly, fun games that both adults and kids can enjoy!

Munchkin

I don’t even remember how to play this game, but I do remember that we played it one time and really enjoyed it. A strategy game that changes every time and keeps everyone on their toes until the very end!

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

I’ll admit that I thought for sure this game would never be in my home- it looks so dark and creepy! But I’ve heard rave reviews from people I respect, and when I read the description it turns out it’s a more complicated version of the old group game Mafia. In the game, everyone is assigned a role and has to play out that role (not acting like charades, but if you are the doctor than you need to save the person who is hurt, etc.) Lots of moving parts and the whole game can change on each turn!

 

What is your favorite family game? Do you have any games on your wishlist this year?

The Best Paper Products Out There!

It’s that time of year! The time of year when we throw out this year’s goals and start thinking about next year! Ok, ok…let’s not all do that…but it is time to start thinking of 2019 and how to plan out the year!

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do in late December is sit down with a brand new planner and start to fill it in. There is something about a fresh, blank notebook of paper that gets me excited every single time! Over the years, I’ve come across several planners and other paper accessories that I’ve loved and wanted to share here in one blog post! If you are still looking for a 2019 planner or paper products, this post will have everything that you need- at an affordable price.

 

Planners 

Happy Planner

I have used this Happy Planner for the last two years, and I’ve loved it! In fact, last year I got a different one and after one day I couldn’t stand it and had to go and buy this one again. I love the layout and how it has the basics, but enough extra’s to give me room for all the lists I like to write out! Plus, the stickers and add-ins are so fun, and the price can’t be beat!

Make it Happen Planner from Important Stuff Stays 

This is the planner I will be using for 2019! Each month has a monthly layout, a notes page, vertical days with time slots, water tracker, a space for weekly goals, a space for priorities for the week, a shopping list and budget. One thing that I like about this planner is that it is not dated, so I have a little more free reign to adjust the months as needed.

Spirit Filled Women Planner 

This planner was designed and created by my friend Rebekah. I loved it as soon as she shared it on her Instagram stories! Monthly and daily layouts include goal setting, list making, meal planning and exercising/water drinking. I also love how there is a weekly page for sermon notes! Plus, this planner is one of the most affordable options I have seen!

Bloom Daily Planner

Sometimes buying a planner online can be scary because I can’t see it in person. However, these planners have fantastic reviews and they are GORGEOUS! I love the layouts and all the fun little details that are included for each month and on each page!

 

Bible Study Planners 

Daily Remain

I bought this journal last year and have LOVED it for my daily devotions! I love that it isn’t a devotional, but a tool to help me as I study the Bible. Each day includes a space to pause, to count the fruit, to write out a Scripture verse, to write down quotes/notes/observations from that Scripture, to dive deeper, to reflect on what I am going to do about it, to write out what I’m asking God for, and to have a time of written prayer. Sometimes I don’t get through all those prompts in one day, and then I will just circle around and complete it the next day.

My Prayer Journal

A sweet friend recently sent this to me and I absolutely LOVE it! One thing that I would really like to work on in 2019 is my prayer life. It’s a little…sporadic right now. Writing things down always helps me channel it and build good habits, and I’m looking forward to using this prayer journal!!!

Write the Word Journal 

These beautiful journals from Lara Casey’s shop can be bought individually or come in a set. They are each themed to cultivate something from the word- Joy, Prayer, Hope, Gratitude, Renewal, Forgiveness. Each page has a selected verse to write out that goes along with the theme, and extra space to journal. Seriously, everything from this shop is amazing.

Simple Purposeful Living Daily Journal 

My sweet friend Erin recently designed and created these wonderful journals to help guide daily devotional times. The journal includes four daily prompts- I am thankful for, My prayer for today, What I learned, and God is capable of. I love that this journal helps us begin to build the habit of daily prayer and journaling, as well as reflecting on God.

My Bible Study Journal

Amazon is full of cute little notebooks and journals just like this! The inside is simple enough- just space to write out Scripture, notes and reflection and a praise. This could be a great tool if you want to journal daily but just aren’t sure where to start!

 

 

Hobby/Life Planners

Parenting Planner 

I absolutely LOVE this parenting planner, especially for fostering. It’s so very simple, and yet it’s impact can be huge! There is a monthly layout, then a space for daily logs. On the sidebar, there are lists for tracking behaviors, habits/schedules, playdates, discipline, injury/illness tracker, expenses, struggles, game plan, and achievements. This little notebook is pure gold for foster parents or step parents who are parenting with another person. So much can fall through the cracks when a child is being switched back and forth from one parent to another. Keeping track of all of these things is crucial!

Exercise Log

How fun is this exercise log? It tracks both food and exercise, and also has some extra pages for goals and finding your why. I really am looking for an exercise tracker/log so that I can get back into running and record how many miles I run in 2019! Unfortunately, this one is only for 90 days, but I still love the look and the layout!

Blogging Planner

Where are all my bloggers at? This book/planner is INCREDIBLE! It starts from the very beginning stages of blogging and details every little thing that needs to be done to have a successful blog. Let’s just say this one is on my wishlist!

Financial Planner

Raise your hand if you need to get your budgeting on track in 2019. Yeah, I figured that is most of us! Check out this GORGEOUS notebook that helps keep track of all the income/expenses for the year! Wow! Theo is in charge of our finances, but just because of how pretty this notebook is, I might take over for 2019!

Homeschool Planner

Homeschool Mamas- how important is that daily lesson planner? So important! I absolutely LOVE this one- it’s beautiful and completely functional! I can’t wait to start filling this with all Tera’s Kindergarten plans!

52 Lists of Happiness

Sometimes we just need a fun little journal that doesn’t require planning or maintaining anything. And yet…I love making lists, and have had my eye on this fun list making journal for awhile now! They have lots of different options for 52 lists, too!

Q & A A Day

My friend gifted me one of these fabulous journals about five years ago…and I have filled it out almost every day since! Each day includes a fun little prompt that you fill in. Then, the next year on that date, you answer the same question. It’s so fun to see how my answers have changed (or stayed the same!) over the years!

A Grandmother’s Legacy Journal

I gave this journal to my Mom several years ago, and she filled it out daily and gave it to Tera. It’s the sweetest thing and I absolutely love it. I have the feeling that as soon as Tera learns how to read, she will read this journal all the time! I searched for a Mom version but wasn’t able to find one I was satisfied with, but I think that even a mother could answer these questions and keep it around for her children. Such a sweet and special gift!

Mental Health Pages 

Have you ever seen these mental health pages? I absolutely LOVE the idea as a visual to see where we are mood-wise and keeping track of our mental health. Each day, you color the date with the color that best represents your mood. At the end of the month, you have a visual representation of how many anxious/happy/sick days you have had.

52 Week Meal Planner

It’s so simple, and yet so many of us really struggle with it! Meal Planning. Erin from Simple Purposeful Living designed this 52 week meal planner- and kept it simple! Each week has a slot for daily meal planning and a grocery list- organized by sections of the grocery store! How much easier would this make my meal planning life?

 

And there you have it! The ultimate round up of paper products that I love or would love to use! What are some of your favorite planners or paper products?

*This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you shop from my Amazon links, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. It does not change the price of your product.

** Please note. Some of these products are from small shops and sellers, and they may be out of stock or cutting it close to the deadline to arrive before Christmas! Just please make sure that you check on the website so you aren’t thoroughly disappointed if it doesn’t arrive as fast as an Amazon prime product!

 

“Worth It” In a Culture that Defines our Worth

“It’s a little bit expensive, but it’s worth it!”

How many times have you heard this phrase?

Maybe it’s coming from your best friend, your brother, an acquaintance or your favorite blogger on the internet.

Or maybe it’s coming at you in quiet, subtle ways. It’s not exactly worded like that, but it’s the same message.

From the ad on TV, the billboard on the highway, the woman you pass in Target with the cute purse.

Worth it.

It amps up this season as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday crowd our social media news feeds and Christmas approaches. We are bombarded with messages from everywhere that tell us whether or not something is “worth it”. Worth the money. Worth the time. Worth the investment. Worth it.

In fact, we often begin to believe that if we don’t have the ___(insert product here)____, we aren’t “worth it”. We aren’t worth anything if we don’t have it all figured out- a nicely decorated home, a well-plated (and nutritionally balanced) dinner, a perfect homeschool curriculum and a drug-free birth.

LIES. ALL LIES.

Friends, our “worth it” is not in the possessions we own, the amount of followers were have on social media, the beauty of our homeschool curriculum, or the access we have to the newest robot vacuum. Our “worth it” is not defined by our beauty, our possessions or the behavior of our children.

Instead, I’ve come up with several helpful ways for me to fight the constant barrage of “worth it” this holiday season.

  1. Know that advertisers are paid to tell you that things are “worth it”. 

Remember that adds on TV, in stores and on social media are paying big money to get right up in your face about their product. They have teams of people who have gone to college to learn how to make us want to buy things. They have teams of people who design adds and they usually have large budgets to get those adds out to us. Every single add has one mission in mind: inform the viewers that this product is “worth it” and that the viewer needs to buy it. 

A note here about bloggers speaking this message. Many bloggers this time of year amp up the amount of products that they share. This is hard work, and something that most bloggers are truly passionate about.  Most bloggers I know are very genuine about the products that they share. They are making a living from sharing products and companies, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Most bloggers will only work with companies who go along with their brand, and most are often honest with their followers about the products that they share. But it’s always important to remember that they have most likely either received the product for free or they are being compensated for it. Again, this is not bad…but it’s something that we need to remember in our minds as we take in the information that they are sharing.

2. Make your own list- what is worth it for you? For your family? For your budget? 

Now, I realize that by now I’ve come across as a total grinch and anti buying ANYTHING. This is not true! There are things out there that you may very well find to be “worth it”. That fancy baby bed that costs $300 but gives you a full nights sleep? You may very well find that 100% worth it. The house cleaning service or the meal delivery service? You may determine that for your family, the price is absolutely worth it. That’s great! The key here is to determine what exactly is worth it for you and your family. What are your values and the non-negotiables (sleep? Family time? convenience? Saving money in order to pay off debt?)? If we know what is worthwhile before we are bombarded with ads, then we are less likely to buy a lot of stuff that is in the end not worth it for us.

3. Understand where you find your worth. 

If you are a Christian, your worth is in Christ. Listen, I know that is an over-used Christian mumbo-jumbo statement, so what does it actually mean? It means that apart from Christ, we aren’t anything at all. We may gain some social media followers, have a hefty bank account and well-behaved children, but in the grand scheme of eternity, none of that will be going anywhere with us. Instead, once we put our hope and faith in Christ, we have everything! We have eternal hope and joy and even so much to live for here on earth. That is how our worth is in Christ. I hope that this season you and I are able to spend more time than ever understanding more about Christ and his birth and death and resurrection so that we can understand even better how much we are worth through the life and death of Jesus Christ. There is nothing more needed.

 

 

 

November Life Lately

November was baby month around here, which means that not much happened in this household AT ALL!

I was due the 20th, but was pretty miserable the last few weeks of my pregnancy, so I hoped every day would bring a baby. Our car also broke down, so we ended up becoming a one car family, which meant I didn’t get out as much as I usually do.

We took a hike in the gorgeous fall colors. Ohio had like 4 months of summer, 2 days of fall and now we are officially into the winter weather (the snow is falling outside as I type this!).

Theo told me I don’t even look pregnant from behind and then took this picture to prove it.

Ah, but there is the proof. Couldn’t even zip up my jacket. I couldn’t even make the two sides of the zipper meet at the bottom LOL.

It’s been so fun this past summer to have two kids who are walkers! I’ve pretty much ditched the stroller and just have both of them walk everywhere. Next summer I will be back to hauling a baby everywhere, but it was nice to see a glimpse of my future without strollers and having kids who are a little bit more independent.

38ish weeks. I was HUGE.

My three babies.

Last picture as a family of four!

I tried to do well at taking the kids to the park, but the cold weather and the last stages of pregnancy did end up throwing a damper on that plan. We made it all the way to the park a couple of times, though (its about a mile from our house – I push Kiah in the stroller or he sometimes walks a bit while Tera rides her bike).

Prior to November, I hadn’t done a single thing to prepare for baby. I was so anemic that I had no energy to do anything at all. Once I finally got my iron levels up, I felt SO MUCH BETTER, so I was able to pull out and organize all the baby stuff. I really wanted to keep it simple this time around. Also, that entire drawer of clothes? Newborn clothes that Ezra never even wore. LOL.

The last month of my pregnancy was really, really hard. I’m not going to lie about that. I cried almost every day and I was very miserable. My husband and children were also miserable as a result. I tried my hardest to not project my emotions onto them, but it was a challenge. So I started to do one fun thing each day to look forward to before the baby came.

We went to the library…

We went to the Air Force Museum…

We had a picnic dinner on the kitchen floor…

We buried our hamster…

Ok, that one wasn’t a fun thing or a planned thing, but we woke up to our hamster being dead. She was close to 4 years old and had been given to us by someone who was moving overseas. We knew she wouldn’t live long, so it was a good little life lesson on taking care of pets and then saying goodbye to them. Kiah didn’t understand, but Tera did, and she was pretty emotional about it. It did bring up lots of great discussions about death and dying and heaven.

Tera wanted to jump in a pile of leaves, so I figured raking a big pile would either put me into labor…or not.

They LOVED playing in the leaves. I could hardly get them to stand still for a picture!

LOVE the fall colors.

Look at those smiles!

Oh, sweet Kiah-man.

Love this girl.

Throwing leaves!

Us girls need to stick together, since we are now outnumbered by the boys!

Tera asked me how to spell “HINES” and when I spelled it out loud for her, she wrote it all by herself. Obviously, there is still work to be done, but I am SO PROUD of my girl and how incredibly smart she is. She also has her sweater on backwards because she insists on wearing the red bow in the front. So, this sums up my four year old in one picture.

The last week before we had Ezra, we had lots of stuff happen that I for sure thought would send me into labor. An ice storm was first on the list…

Fall, meet winter.

Icy leaves.

And finally, the arrival of sweet baby Ezra (you can read his birth story here).

The kids got to come and meet Ezra when he was a few hours old! (You can read about the kids meeting their brother here).

Grandma Hines came down the day after Ezra was born and got to help us out, even while we were still in the hospital! It’s been so lovely having her here for the past week.

The kids go between being smitten with Ezra and completely ignoring him. It’s nice having two bigger kids who entertain each other (even if entertaining means fighting) because I don’t think either of them are feeling extra jealous or pained about adding a new family member.

I just cannot stop laughing at the fact that my newborn is pretty much the same size as my toddler.

I had Ezra on Monday, we got home from the hospital on Tuesday night, and on Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving! We just got a rotisserie chicken, and then my MIL made sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and we had some rice on the side as well. We pulled out a pie filling I had made from our apples and my MIL baked it. It was a lovely Thanksgiving!

Ezra’s first outing was to the pediatrician the day after he was born to check his jaundice levels, and then this second outing was to the library when he was four days old. LOL. No surprise there…the library is practically our second home! We also asked my MIL to snap a few family pictures so that I can use them for a Christmas card photo!

On Sunday evening, I got the brilliant idea to go see the wild lights at the zoo. We weren’t sure what to expect, so it was interesting. The lights were great, but there were no animals to be seen (except the reindeer and the aquarium). It was super crowded and I ended up spending an entire hour in the “nursing station” at the zoo feeding Ezra. Still, it was great to get out of the house and this was probably the last warmish day of the year, so I’m glad we went! I just need to remind myself over and over again that everything takes at least two hours longer with a newborn!!

And that’s a wrap on November! We sure are grateful and thankful and blessed…!

November Reading List

Well, well! Here we are in November and I’ve blown my yearly reading goals out of the water! This month my reading slowed down a little bit, since I spent most of the first half of the month crying about how miserably pregnant I was, and I’ve spent most of the second half of the month snuggling my sweet baby. I have gotten lots of reading in during my late night nursing sessions, but it’s been just a few minutes here and there. I’ve read four books this month, two of them related to birth preparation.

5 stars// Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is preparing or planning a natural childbirth! Ina May is the mother of all midwives and she writes this book explaining the miracle and magic of childbirth. It’s a very empowering read and one that has helped me wrap my head around how my body will labor and why I can do it. I’ve used a lot of the things I read in her book DURING labor all three times, and that is incredibly powerful to have those tools going into labor instead of being fearful of what might happen.

That being said, this book does have a lot of hippie dippy stuff in it. I’m into natural childbirth, but I’m not quite as extreme as Ina May and some of her patients/clients.

5 stars// Baby Catcher 

I love, love love this book! It’s basically a memoir of a midwife who does home births. She writes in a way that makes me feel like I am right there in the room with all these beautiful birthing mothers. Some are loud, some are quiet. Some labors are easy, some are not so. Some are at night and some are during the day. It’s just a fun book that is written more like a story and less like a book of facts. At the same time, it also really helps me prepare for labor as I read about all the women in the book who have given birth.

One caveat here is that Peggy Vincent does include some of the less than ideal births. There is one or two stories of still birth and several stories of home births that have had to be transported to the hospital for scary emergency things. If you feel like that would worry you for your own labor and delivery, then I recommend reading this while not pregnant and about to give birth.

4.5 stars// The Keeper of Lost Things 

I thought this was such a cute story! It was clean, and very Hallmarky, but a little less predictable than a Hallmark movie. I found it fast paced and enjoyed getting to know each character without tons of extra characters thrown in. The main character is left with a home that is full of others lost things, and is tasked with returning them to their owners. Through the journey, she befriends (rather begrudgingly) a neighbor girl who has Downs Syndrome. Of course, she also falls in love. There was a little bit of ghost things included in the story, but it didn’t come across as creepy spirits, it came across as cheesy Hallmark ghosts who are helping them on their journey.

3.5 stars// The Lake of Dreams 

This book was good, but too much. I think that there could have been at least 100 pages removed from the story and it would have still been just fine. The book was very big on woman’s suffrage, feminism and supporting Native Americans. None of which I’m against, but I just didn’t feel moved or convinced like I felt the author was trying to do. A young woman who works overseas returns home and starts digging around in her attic only to find that some of her ancestors have more of a past (in woman’s suffrage) than anyone realized. She continues to poke around and find out more and more about her family history all while continuing to develop her own relationships (of course her ex-boyfriend from high school comes into the picture) and traipse around with no job (?). Overall, it was a decent story and I enjoyed it, but it dragged a lot.

I’m so excited to round out the year of reading, and to hopefully have a post of my favorite books from this year!