Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The List of Our Games

A friend of Ginny's on Facebook made the comment that we play a lot of "unique games," and wanted to see a list of all of them. With that said, here is the list of games we have with some quick comments about each of them. I am also working on a post detailing how we can use many of these games in teaching. Without any further delay, here is our list in no particular order.
  1. The Settlers of Catan - The game that brought the strategy games into the mainstream of America. A classic and one that everyone should play at some point. Player interaction through trading and an easily -described victory condition make this a great game to introduce to people.
  2. The Seafarers of Catan - Technically an expansion of Settlers. I really enjoy it as well, as it adds some new dimensions and scenarios to play.
  3. Ticket to Ride - One of the best "gateway games," or a game to introduce to new gamers. It takes the rummy element of set collecting and incorporates it into a cross-country game of building railroad routes between cities. Simply put: This one is fun.
  4. Carcassonne - Another game that we've enjoyed for a while. A tile-laying game all about building up the French landscape. The game board changes with every play as you place different tiles together. Definitely one to play with newbie gamers.
  5. Zooloretto - I would definitely consider this a gateway game, too. It will be on the first ones that I will teach the girls to play the correct way. A game all about putting animals in your zoo. Another set collecting game that is easy to grasp.
  6. Airlines Europe - A step above Ticket to Ride (the same designer for both games) in terms of depth and complexity, but another game that will be accessible to many. A game that each time I play I enjoy more and more. It involves the route building of Ticket to Ride with the stock element of Acquire (see below).
  7. Agricola - This one is probably my favorite game, and one that I have not reviewed yet. It's a game about farming. Yes, farming. Don't let the theme fool you though. This game has a lot of depth and complexity, so it is not one you would want to start out playing with new players. There are a lot different paths to explore and ways to win - which adds to the depth of it. Ginny and I really enjoy our 2-player battles.
  8. Puerto Rico - Another game that is a few notches above Ticket to Ride on the challenge scale, but another fun that I enjoy. Definitely not a game for everyone, though. Some may find it dry and boring. There is some player interaction as you select different roles on your turn and build up your island of Puerto Rico.
  9. Acquire - One of my favorite games, as it was one of the first "real" board games my dad and uncles taught me. Simple, elegant design with excellent gameplay. One that currently is readily available for purchase. You lay tiles to create hotel chains, invest in those hotels, and try to accumulate the most wealth through stock mergers and stock appreciation.
  10. Stocks and Bonds - An easy-to-explain game about the stock market. Invest in stocks, buy low, sell high, and hope to strike it richer than your opponents. Like I said in my review, it's not a great game, but it is good to play every once in a while.
  11. Power Grid - Of all the games I have and play regularly, this one might be the most complex, but it is right there at the top of the list as one of my favorites. Auctions, resource management, and network building all come together in this game of being the best power supply company. Again, do not start out with this right away, and when you do play it, take your time reading the rules. This game also has many expansions, of which sadly I own most.
  12. Railways of the World - Network building and pick-up-and-deliver mechanisms meet in this game all about earning the most money and victory points through building your railroad network and deliver different colored cubes to cities of the respective cube color. I like this one a lot, too. The only downside (and what I didn't necessarily know at the time I requested it as a gift) is that it really is a better game with 4-6 players. Also, the board is ginormous.
  13. Castles of Burgundy - A game that does play well with 2 players is Castles of Burgundy. A game about developing the countryside in medieval France, this game is about rolling dice and using those dice to collect tiles and add tiles to your board. It sounds like a lot of luck involved given dice rolls, but there are special tiles and tokens to manipulate the dice rolls. Again, a solid game that plays well with 2 players. And one you can play for free online at Boite a Jeux.
  14. Macao - Another game that plays well with 2, Macao is another game with interesting mechanisms around dice rolling and resource collecting, with the goal of earning the most victory points as you deliver goods, build city spaces, and activate cards through cubes you earn through the dice rolls. Not a game everyone will enjoy, and not a game to start newbies on, but a good game Ginny and I enjoy. Her ability to plan better than me makes her the winner most games.
  15. Alhambra - I realize I keep repeating myself, but this is another good 2-player game. In Alhambra, you are looking to build up your Alhambra in the Spanish Middle Ages. You buy buildings from the board and add them to your Alhambra with the goal of having the most buildings of each type when the scoring cards come. The money comes in 4 different colors (currencies), giving you choices to make when buying buildings and taking money from the bank. An award-winning game, and rightly so.
  16. Pandemic - A cooperative game where you try to save the world and cure 4 diseases before they outbreak and doom the world. A topical game, too, given the events of the world right now. Ginny and I like this one a lot, even if we have a losing record at it.
  17. Formula D - This was one of those games I bought somewhat on a whim, mostly because we have not actually played this one yet. Technically, I guess the girls and I have gotten out the cars and rolled the dice, but we haven't played according to the rules. As they get older, I can see this one being played often. 
  18. History of the World - A 3+ hour game about world civilizations rising to power and being taken over by others. This is a popular game with my mom's family, and it has elicited many laughs and good times over the years. This game is NOT for everyone though, because, well, it's at least a 3-hour affair.
  19. 1856/18TN - At minimum, another 3-hour-long game about investing in railway companies, growing their reach across the map, and trying to manipulate your way to the highest net worth. It's sort of like History of the World, but with trains and not civilizations.
  20. Scotland Yard - You are either a detective hot on the trail of Mr. X, or you are Mr. X, seeking to elude the world's best detectives. This is a 1 vs. all game as Mr. X tries to move about London with being captured by the detectives. The big thing? Mr. X is hidden on the board and writes his moves down in secret; you only know what mode of transportation he took. I can't wait to try this one with the girls.
  21. 7 Wonders - A card-drafting, set collecting game in which you take the role of the leader of a certain civilization and try to earn the most points and complete your wonder of the world. I've only played this twice - once as a play through by myself and once with 2 other players. It looks like a fun game that the girls can play fairly quickly.
  22. Dixit - This one falls into the party game genre, but it's really quite clever. You have a hand of 6 cards with a picture on each one. Your job as the storyteller is to pick a card and describe it in one sentence. The other players then select one card from their hand that they think matches your story. Then everyone but the storyteller votes on which card they think you the storyteller played, and points are awarded based on the selections. 
  23. Reef Encounter - Reef Encounter is the deep-sea adventure of combating corals. Yes, you read that right. The game is about growing your coral reef and having your fish eat the reef when it is dominant to score the most points. It's fairly abstract but a lot of fun. It's not a beginners' game, however. The rule book is not well written, and the game is fairly complex. It's still a good game once you graduate up to it.
  24. Memoir '44 - There are a lot of war games out there that I find interesting but would have absolutely no time or reason to buy. For one, they take a long time to play. Second, I don't think Ginny would be interested. Memoir '44 is known here as Daddy's army men game, because the game comes with plastic army men. M44 recreates World War II battles but in a much simpler fashion. To date, I've only played solo games, but it is light and fun and a game I hope the girls will be interested in when we study WW2 in our homeschool life.
  25. Qwirkle - A review will be coming soon on this one. This one is Scrabble with shapes and colors. It's easy to teach and easy to play. In fact, Nyla has actually been playing it with us with only some help from us. She understands what she is supposed to do. You play either a row of different shapes of the same color or different colors of the same shape. A fun game that the whole family will enjoy.
  26. Small World - My latest game purchase. 
  27. Party Games - I'm going to lump all of these together, because they fill that party game genre. We have Apples to Apples, Taboo, Scattergories, and Balderdash. I will point out that Say Anything is an excellent party game from the same people who designed Wits & Wagers. All of these fill that niche of just wanting to be silly and have a good time.
  28. "Traditional Games" - Monopoly, Scrabble, Yachtzee, and Rummy Cube all fall in here. We rarely play Monopoly these days, although I'm sure we will once the girls get older. Same for the others as well. 
And with that, I believe that covers our entire list of games... at least until I get some birthday/Christmas money to spend. ;-)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Parents, It's Ok...

Greetings, my fellow Americans, and welcome to another installment of this blog. As you can imagine, we have been busy around here getting used to another little girl in the house. We are doing fairly well now getting restful nights of sleep after several, well, not so good nights. In any event, I'm back with a bit of an advice column I'd like to call, "Parents, It's Ok," in which I share some things that it's ok for parents to do with a new baby in the house. Without further ado, let's get to this list...
  1. It's ok to send them to the nursery in the hospital. It was 11:00pm that first night with Natalie. Ginny and I were tired. Natalie would sleep in her little box for short stretches, but she wouldn't settle enough for us to sleep a long stretch. So Ginny nursed her one more time, made sure her diaper was changed, and then pressed the nurse button on her bed. To be totally honest, it made me sad that we sent her to the nursery, because it felt like I was giving up on her trying to sleep with us. After a wonderful 2.5-hour sleep, though, I felt better. We sent her back to the nursery again around 4am and got another 2 hours or so of sleep. The lesson? Send her to the nursery and grab some sleep; because when you get home, there's no nurse button. 
  2. It's ok to say no. Not to the baby of course, but to people coming over to visit, whether at the hospital or at home. You're the ones adjusting to a new life. Ginny told people bringing meals to not come or call between 1 and 4 in the afternoon. Why? So everyone could rest. It's ok to tell people to come at a certain time. If they don't get it, they clearly don't understand what being a parent of a baby is all about.
  3. It's ok to feel helpless at times. Trust me, whether it's your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or heck even your 10th kid, there will be times when you have no idea what to do. And that's ok. You're not going to know what to do. But you will figure it out. 
  4. It's ok to put a screaming baby in the crib. Again, trust me on this one. Ginny and I have had this discussion before. We go through our checklist. Is the baby fed? Is she changed? Is she burped? And we put her in the crib, crying and being loud, while we take 10-15 minutes to regroup, shower, eat, or close the door and sit in our bedroom. This does not make you a bad parent. Instead, it gives you a chance to breathe and gather yourself. I can't tell you the number of times Ginny or I have put a screaming baby in the crib, taken a shower, and come out feeling ready to go. 
  5. It's ok to ask for help. Ask. Ask often. Ask someone you trust. 
  6. It's ok to cry. I've cried more in the last 4+ years of being a father than I had in the last 14 years before that. Being a new parent (or an old parent for that matter) is an emotional experience. It's ok to cry. And cry while holding a crying kid. 
  7. It's ok to wonder if it ever gets better. "The days are long but the years are short." It does get better, and it gets more fun, too.
Hopefully this should put your sleep-deprived, new parent mind at ease.

What would you add to this list?


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Newest Member of the Family

Hello, dear readers, and welcome back to the blog. Your pal Daniel is a little sleep-deprived as I type this, though admittedly it could be much, much worse. The reason for my sleep deprivation is that we welcomed a new addition into this world.

We arrived at Baptist Women's Hospital at 5:30am Thursday morning eager to meet our new baby girl.

Side note: Ginny had reached her pregnancy limit before this of course, so she was ready - so much so that she was trying to encourage Natalie to come early. I was not in favor of this. I wanted her to wait until the scheduled date, for whatever reason I did not immediately know. Until Labor Day. When I was sick from about 4:00pm through 8:00am. And when I mean sick, we're talking stomach bug sick, as in the worst thing that someone 3 days away from having a newborn could have. By the grace of God, and I do not use that term flippantly, no one else in the house got sick. I quarantined myself and used more disinfectant spray than most hospitals.

In any event, we arrived in the hospital, and soon enough Ginny was getting prepped for surgery. By now, we were used to the routine, and I had no trouble waiting around to see her... until of course they actually wheeled her away for surgery, at which point the nerves ratcheted up. Still, the time passed quickly, and I was next to Ginny in the operating room, awaiting the arrival our sweet Natalie.

The anesthetist not long after motioned and practically dragged me to peer up and watch Natalie be pulled out. The fact that I did not pass out is amazing. Everyone of course exclaimed that was a big baby (as if we would have a small one!), and soon she was fully in this world and letting everyone know how unhappy that made her. The nurses cleaned her up and placed her on the scale, where she weighed 5,240 grams, which made no sense to me because my metric to American conversions are a bit fuzzy these days. I'm sure yours are, too. Fortunately, I've taken a picture of "our" measurements...

Yeah, 11 pounds, 9 ounces. My baby could and probably did eat your baby for breakfast. As is the case with big babies, her blood sugar was low. Fortunately, the nurse attending to her was far better and nicer than when this happened with Naomi. Poor Naomi only saw us for a few minutes before being whisked away to the nursery for a bottle. This time, the nurse actually let me hold her and show her to Ginny. That made parting with her a lot easier. I followed the nurse to the nursery, where Natalie would get all of the love and good stuff she needed.(By the time I checked on her an hour later, her blood sugar had come up, and it stabilized at a good level the rest of the time.)

Meanwhile, back in the surgery room, Ginny was being sewn up and off to recovery. With Naomi, her recovery was difficult. Without grossing you out too much, with Naomi, she had a lot of bleeding that did not stop for a long time. Thankfully, this time there was no issue, and the three of us were all united in a room before lunch! We are so thankful that we were in a room quickly to snuggle with and love on our baby girl.

Here is our beautiful new girl, just hours old, resting in Mommy's arms.

Natalie, we love you and are so thankful you came into our lives!


Monday, August 25, 2014

10 Days and Counting

We aren't counting down or anything around here! 10 days (or less) until the newest member of our family makes her debut. And we are all very excited! Mommy is getting VERY uncomfortable, especially at night and the 105 heat index days aren't helping.

We have been soaking up the last few weeks as a family of 4. It's a bittersweet time, really. We started preschool homeschool back in June and went strong for about 4 weeks but have taken an extended break. We try to get out of the house, have play dates, swing and slide at our locals parks, swim and just soak up time together. And that's exactly what's been happening and I wouldn't have it any other way! I know that once Natalie comes we'll still be able to play outside but leaving the house for a few weeks just won't happen. And that's okay. I know we'll get back to that within a month or so of a good routine. I'm praying for an easier recovery than I had with Naomi since I have two busy girls to keep up with this go around.

My big girls are excited to welcome Natalie Grace but at the same time I think they have expectations that she's going to be a ball of fun like they are. We have quite a few friends with baby girls who are about a year old and 1 year olds are totally different than newborns! We keep explaining to them that all Natalie will do for awhile is sleep, cry, eat and lay around. They'll understand once she comes. But right now that seems so foreign to them. 

Below are a few pictures of what's been going on in our home lately. July and August have proven to be busy months. I'm glad we aren't doing formal "school" right now. It would just get in the way of our fun! We are continuing to keep the TV OFF and reading tons of books together each day, as well as crafting and honing their fine motor skills. They seem to be enjoying our days together. I know I am!

We went to Chick-fil-a last week for breakfast. This picture is a great description of their two VERY different personalities!

Watercolor fun!
It's been hot hot hot here. We enjoy the mornings outside but have to come back in and find other things to do.

We all got haircuts Wednesday and we desperately needed them!

We have recently started Milly-Molly-Mandy, a chapter book, and both girls love it! It's a great little book, written in the 20's. While the language is a bit different and I have to explain what some words and phrases mean, they seem to like it. Each chapter is separate from the next and they are about 6 pages long. I'm trying to get Nyla to dialogue with me so I'll stop every couple paragraphs and ask her questions. Sometimes she gets them, sometimes not, but it's good practice for her.
In the picture above, she's looking at a picture (there are very few) and making up her own little stories or somewhat retelling what I've read. She's obviously getting something out of the book. 

Naomi loves pushing her old stroller around and wearing her sunglass. She's "cool dude."

Daddy and Nyla have visited Putt-Putt a few times this summer. We think one of Nyla's love languages is quality time so she's really enjoyed going and playing with him. She's getting pretty good, too!

We took Naomi a couple weeks ago (before it was scorching hot) and she wasn't interested at first but soon wanted to play. She is funny to watch. She's learning some Putt-Putt etiquette as well. :)

For Nyla's 4th birthday I took her to a local nail salon and we got matching pedicures. Back in the Spring, my mom, sister and I went to this salon and they and a little pink chair just for little girls, complete with butterfly wings. I had never seen that before and told Nyla about it. She immediately wanted to go! I told her for her birthday we'd go and do that. We don't do physical gifts for birthdays, we do gifts of experience. She loved it! We had a great time sitting next to one another and I loved watching her face has her feet soaked and they scrubbed her feet, massaged her legs and painted her toes. And since she's a quality time person, this was right up her alley. We completed our birthday celebration by going and eating taco's together. Another favorite activity of hers!

We love our popsicles on hot days!

Sweet Naomi praying
Nyla enjoyed VBS at my parents church again this summer. Naomi isn't quite old enough to be in a class but each night we dropped Sissy off we HAD to stay for the opening program. They had great music, dancing, puppets, devotion and prayer. She loved it! She can't wait to go next year!!!

Biker buds

My dad likes a picture now and then of his grand girls. I told Nyla, "Sir wants a picture of you. Can you smile for me?"
She said, " yes" and then said, "Sir wants a picture of me being 4." (she had just turned 4 that week... so sweet!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Plethora of Pictures

As you can imagine, we have been busy around here getting things ready for Natalie's arrival in just 23 days. But we have still had lots of fun!

Post-swimming play time at Gigi's

Another fun afternoon at Putt Putt for Nyla and me. She got 3 holes-in-one!

Face-painting at church block party! A crown for the princess!

And a smiley face for the mostly happy blonde spark plug!

Naomi rode a horse at the block party!

Poor, pitiful, tired Naomi

A Sunday selfie!

Fun at Cookie's church's playground