Wednesday, June 30, 2010

GameWright - Game Review and Give-away

Our family loves to play games together (not just Wii games). Last Christmas, Santa stuffed a couple of new games from Gamewright in our stockings. Amberly got a card game called Sleeping Queens and Utah Dad got another card game called Loot. Both games were instant hits in this house. Since school got out and we have loads of free time this summer, we've been playing lots of games together. The Gamewright games are our favorites.

Sleeping Queens features twelve sleeping queens that can be aroused from slumber by a king or stolen by a knight or put back to sleep by a magic potion. The first player to collect a certain number of queens wins. Along the way, there is some matching, simple math and a few jokers. The cards are sturdy and the artwork is colorful and clever. Amberly immediately loved the game and even Neal was willing to play whenever she asked. It's a quick game so I can squeeze in a round or too while dinner cooks.

Loot is a pirate card game and it's a hoot. There are cards with pirates and cards with merchant ships. At the end of the game whichever player has been able to "loot" the highest number of merchant ships is the winner. The strategy is involved and this game is definitely for older players. Neal gets it. Amberly doesn't. Just like with Sleeping Queens the artwork on the cards is humorous and colorful. There's nothing boring about this game. Utah Dad especially likes this game--probably because he almost always wins.

Because we became such fans of Sleeping Queens and Loot, I wrote several months ago to Gamewright to tell them how pleased we were. I also mentioned that I wrote a blog and would love to do a review of their products. I was delighted last week when a FedEx package hit my front door and I discovered two of Gamewright's newest games.

Dweebies is another card game meant for elementary age children. As soon as we opened the game, my children were clamouring to play. We were all delighted. The game features colorful Dweebies. There's Astronaut Dweebie, Ballerina Dweebie, Fisherman Dweebie and more. It's a matching game with a twist. Using strategy, probability and matching, players try to collect the most cards to win. Again, the game is quick and there's no way it could become tiresome--the Dweebies are too cute.

The second game in the box, was a bit different and completely unique. Rory's Story Cubes are a set of nine dice with random pictures. There are countless ways to play with the cubes. The most obvious is of course to roll the dice and then the player incorporates the pictures into a story. My four-year-old LOVES this game. He cracks himself up with his own (weird) stories and loves to listen to every one's tales. This game inspires creativity to the max. It stretches the imagination. The Story Cubes would come in handy in the classroom, in the tent during a rainy camping trip, a road trip (the box doubles as a handy rolling areas) or any where. I told my husband he should take it to his writing club as a little warm-up exercise. The game can be quick or you can play for hours. It's awesome.

These games are fabulous. I've looked over the Gamewright catalog and their website and I'm excited to get some more. Their prices are also reasonable which makes my budget happy.

Gamewright, these awesome creative geniuses, are also offering
one copy of Dweebies
 to one of my lucky readers.
 How cool is that? You can get in on the fun.

All you have to do to enter is:

Check out the Gamewright website by clicking *HERE*. Peruse their lists of games. Come back to Utah Mom's Life Blog and leave a comment about what game tickles your fancy on this post.

You can get extra chances by:
1. Becoming a follower of Utah Mom's Life Blog
2. Becoming a fan of Gamewright on Facebook
3. Telling all your friends about this give-away on your blog or Facebook.
(Be sure to leave an extra comment for each extra thing you do.)

Entries will be accepted until next Wednesday, July 7th at 11:59p.m. (MST)
The winner will be announced on here the next morning.
This contest is only open to residents of the US.
(I had to have some fine print.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Easiest Birthday Party Ever

Neal is having his ninth birthday party--right now.

I don't really do birthday parties--unless you count the BBQ/Potluck dinners with my family where we have cupcakes and celebrate all the recent family birthdays because there are always several (especially in December). I threw Neal and Amberly a "friends birthday party" when they turned five complete with party games, pinatas, balloons, favors--the whole shebang--and so I "owe" Thomas a party this September. Last year, I told Neal that we would have a birthday party with his friends for his eighth birthday but we got so busy with his baptism and the other summer events, it just didn't happen. To make it up to him, I promised we could have a party this year.

While we were talking about what kind of party Neal wanted, he said he really just wanted to play the Wii. This wasn't a surprise and turned into the easiest party ever. I told him that he and his friends could play the Wii, uninterrupted--without my usual time limits, for four hours one afternoon. He could only invite three friends (a best-cousin, a neighborhood friend, and a friend from school) because there were only four controllers. I bought pizza. They had Neal's favorite cherry Kool-Aid and cookies because he doesn't like the frosting on cupcakes.

I arranged for three of my children to spend the day with their grandparents so that they wouldn't annoy the Wii players. I put Molly down for a nap and I finished the wedding pictures for some very patient clients. And that's it. Neal is happy and I'm happy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Little Looster - Review

Lilly is approaching her third birthday and it's time for potty training. The first two children I potty trained were relatively easy but the third one nearly did me in.  So, I hadn't really been looking forward to training Lilly.

Then, just in time, the people from The Little Looster sent one for us to try and review. The Little Looster is an ingenious stool that fits in front of the toilet. It's one of those mom-inventions that once you see the simplicity and brilliance, makes you wonder why it took so long to be invented. The stool allows the little children to comfortably rest their feet on it while they are sitting on the regular toilet. It gives them a feeling of security and makes it so they don't need to hang on with their hands. Even though we try hard, there are a lot of people (including young boys) using that toilet and I cannot always guarantee that it's germ-free, so if the kids can avoid touching the toilet, it's always a good thing.

I quit using the traditional training potty not long after I started training my first child. You only have to clean one of those a few times before it quickly loses its value. Yuck. The Little Looster eliminates the need for the training potty.

Lilly has taken right to potty training and is doing really well. The Little Looster lets her feel independent and  she can mostly go to the potty by herself. I no longer need to help her get on the toilet and sit next to her to keep her from falling in.

There are only two small problems with The Little Looster. First, it is designed so that adults and older children can use the toilet without moving it. However, I have a four-year-old son and it doesn't allow him to get close enough to the potty while standing. We had to teach him to move it out of the way first so that he doesn't make a huge mess. Problem solved. Second, it gives one-year-old Molly easier access to the toilet. She is currently fascinated by the toilet/water and if the kids leave the bathroom door open, she'll go in. This problem can be easily solved if I can just get the older kids to shut the door.

Overall, the Little Looster has been great. Lilly likes it. It's helped make potty training easier and less messy. Which makes me happy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Modesty Matters

I took Amberly shopping for her a new swimming suit the other day. That night at bedtime she said, "my new swimming suit it a lot cuter and more modest than those beans and weenies."


"You know. Those beans and weenies. They don't cover much."

"Oh! You mean bikinis."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Everything is Fine

I finished reading a stack of our favorite Little Critter books to the kids and sent them upstairs to play in their bedrooms. The doorbell rang. I peeked through the peep hole with Summer (the puppy), breaking the rules that don't allow her in the family room, winding around my legs. To my surprise, there was a handsome Sheriff's Deputy standing patiently on my door step. I opened the door cautiously to avoid letting Summer escape.

"Is everything here OK, Ma'am?"

Well, other than that I have raging allergies, didn't get a shower yet, and I own a crazy hyper puppy. "Yes, of course, everything is fine."

He informed me that they had received a disconnected 911 call from my home. Really? Molly had been playing with the phone while we were reading books. I had taken it away from her when I heard the warning beeping noises. I explained that the mistake was probably to blame on my one-year-old daughter.

"Can we check the call history on your phone?" Sure.

He waited, while I searched for the phone between the cushions of the couch, while wrestling a puppy and grateful that I had vacuumed earlier that morning. The telephone only remembered the last four calls. While there was no proof that Molly had dialed 911, her last four calls were telling: 6; *811; 211 and 871111111111111. Given her propensity to dial the one, I thought that the chances that she had also dialed 911 were pretty darn good.

Embarrassed, I rambled my apologies. I might have even randomly mentioned that my sister is a 911 dispatcher and so I know the seriousness of wasting the resources of our fine, fine police force. The deputy forgave us and left me to the insanity that is my life as a mom.

By midnight, I was seriously wishing that the deputy had hauled Molly off to jail. Standing in her crib, she figured out that she could turn on and off the light. Molly thought it was hilarious. Her sisters/roommates, who were amused the first few times, had ceased to find it funny at midnight. I finally had to move her crib away from the light switch. Then, she screamed. And screamed. Molly has usually been a great sleeper. I've been able to put her into bed (around 9 p.m.) and she'll go right to sleep. But yesterday, she refused to take a nap during the day and wouldn't go to bed either. I am so hoping it was an isolated event. Possibly a result of the chocolate chips I shared with her in the evening. Darn that giant, resealable bag of chocolate chips from Costco.

Molly has finally started walking too. The extra mobility has definitely aided the naughty factor. I am lamenting that my youngest, tiniest, last baby is turning into a toddler already. Good thing she's still cute.

Molly's mug shots:

Yes, she enjoys eating sand.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Princess Festival - Out and About in Utah

Yesterday I had the privilege to photograph my friend's darling daughters before their adventures at the
in Lindon, Utah. The Princess Festival is a fund raiser for
charity. The Festival began yesterday and runs through June 26. There is still time to register your little princess. In the mean time, enjoy the pictures of these little princesses
in their fabulous dresses created by their amazingly talented mother.

You can see additionall pictures at

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Meanest Mom

According to Neal, I am the meanest mom in the world for imposing time limits and restrictions on Wii play. I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only mom that does this and I'm curious to hear your rules regarding video games and your kids. Neal and I have a little bet going, so please don't let me down. Thanks.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op

After weeks of hearing my friends tell me how much they LOVE Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op, I finally remembered to order a basket this week. This morning my friends Kerri and Annie and I went to volunteer and get our baskets of produce.

In spite of waking up at the abnormal hour of six a.m. after a night of being crawled on by an unsettled Molly, I had fun this morning. My muscles are a bit sore now from carrying the boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables from the truck but I am so looking forward to enjoying all the yummy, healthy foods this week.

I paid $15 for a basket plus a first time cost of $3 something. The offerings are different from week to week but today I got:

6 bananas
1 cantaloupe
2 coconuts
9 apples
13 apricots
1 bag of red grapes
2 heads of broccoli
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1 bunch of celery
10 small red potatoes
1 bag of green beans
5 tomatoes

Because I was there early to volunteer, I also got extra potatoes, tomatoes and apples. I wish I had added on the Mexi-pack. That looked great.

When the kids and Utah Dad woke up (they were all still peacefully slumbering when I got home), they were especially excited for the coconuts. I don't exactly buy fresh coconuts on a regular basis. We got right to work: cracking open the shells; saving the precious milk; and shredding the meat. I think I better make a batch of my cousin Jen's famous and delicious cookies.

Be sure to check out Bountiful Baskets. They probably have a drop off site near you too. I'll definitely be going back next week.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Getting that Smile

Kids are usually about five or six before they start giving the unnatural, canned smile for pictures. But it's been difficult to get a natural, cute smile from Lilly for some time now. In fact, the most frequent face I get from her when I aim the camera at her is a scowl. The other night I was determined to get a real smile. She tried really hard and I ended up with dozens of so-so shots. And then I had her say her favorite thing: ice cream and there it was. Lilly's real smile. Perfection. I smile when I think about ice cream too.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Splash Park - Out and About in Utah

We drove way out of our neighborhood to join some friends from our neighborhood at a splash park today. It was worth it.

I didn't intend for Molly to play in the water, but she INSISTED (she's at that stage).

My legs look a lot like Molly's. Aren't you glad I didn't post a picture of me in my swimming suit. Wait. The only swimming suit I currently have is a maternity suit and thankfully I don't need that one. I guess I better go shopping for a new suit and a cover-up for the thighs.

I anticipate plenty of chances to get wet this summer.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My View

This view makes living in the middle of nowhere worth it:

We so enjoyed the sunset tonight. It was spectacular.