Saturday, January 18, 2014

Stocks and Bonds [Board Game Review]

Courtesy user Andre_g54
Well hello again, dear readers. I am back once again with another game review for you. Today, we are going old school. Like really old school. As in, "this game first came out in 1964" old school. Don't let its age fool you, though. It's actually a fun game when you accept it for what it is.

Stocks and Bonds is a game about... no, not that. It's a game about the stock market. The game is for 2-8 players, but in reality, you could play with more, as long as you have enough score sheets, pens, and stock certificates. The goal of the game is very simple: Accumulate the most money at the end of 10 "years" (turns) by buying and selling 9 stocks and 1 bond as prices fluctuate during the turns. Some stocks are set to be more volatile than others, just like the real-life stock market. The flow of the game goes like this: You draw a card to set the market conditions (bear or bull market); roll the dice and adjust the stock prices according to the dice roll; then buy and sell stocks into and out of your portfolio. You'll want to read the rules (as if I would say anything else) to get the complete flow of play.

Now what do I think of this game? Well, I like it. It would be an excellent game to teach math skills and basic (very basic) ideas of the stock market for children. Once the girls are older, we will definitely play this game for those reasons. It's a simple to learn, fun game. However, compared to the games I've previously talked about, this one is low on the strategy level and high on the luck level. Stock prices are determined by the roll of the dice. While some would argue the current market is random like rolling dice, this can lead to games where the stocks generally plummet and you're left with little cash. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy this game, and I will play it if in the mood or if Ginny wants to play it. This is not, however, a game I will pull off the shelf right away when we play games. If you take the game for what it is, a fun, light, random game about the stock market, I think you will enjoy it. Even with it being 50 years old, you should still be able to find some copies available on the interwebs. I rate this game a 5.5 out of 10. (By the way, below is a look at how presents their rating system.) As I said, if I'm the mood for it, I will play it.

I hope everyone has nice, extended weekend!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pandemic [Board Game Review]

Hi, hello, and welcome, fellow users of the Interwebs. It is I, Daniel, back to invite you, the reader, into the wonderful world of board games that don't involve putting money on Free Parking. This time, we will discover just how much fun disease outbreaks and the CDC can be as we look at the newest game in my collection - Pandemic.

Image courtesy
Pandemic is a game for 2-4 players, although really you could get away with 5 if you really wanted to. The game should take about an hour. What makes Pandemic different from most games, and, in fact, all of the games that I own, is that it is a co-op game. In other words, all players are on the same team, meaning that at the end of the game, you're either all winners, or all losers. And you want to win, because not winning means the world gets overrun by up to 4 diseases that wreak havoc on the global population and cause mass... um... deaths hospital visits.

After I give you the regular spiel about not relying on this for a rules description, the game essentially works like this: To start, you will shuffle the infection deck (a list of world cities) and "seed" the board with diseases - placing 3, 2, and 1 disease cube respectively on a few starting cities. You then hand out a role for each player, and this is what gives you a fighting chance to win, because each role has a special action or ability that allows you bend the rules on your turn. After roles are handed out, you deal out cards from the player deck. These cards are either city cards, special event cards, and the dreaded epidemic cards. (More on this in a moment.) 

On your turn, you have a limit of 4 actions you can take. Your options include treating (i.e. removing) 1 disease cube from the city you are currently in, traveling to another city that is connected to the city you are currently in, using city cards from your hand to fly around the world, discover a cure for a disease, and share knowledge (cards) with another player in the same city as you. Again, please take time to read the rule book, because this is the basics of each turn. After your turn, you will draw cards from the player deck, hoping against hope that one of them is not the EPIDEMIC card - this is really bad. Then you will draw 2, 3, or 4 cards from the infection deck, spreading disease around the world. If a city with 3 cubes in it gets a 4th, an outbreak occurs (this is bad). The game ends either when you cure all 4 diseases (yay!), run out of cards from the player deck (boo!), suffer 8 outbreaks (cough, hack, sneeze, die!), or run out of disease cubes to place on the board (global doom!). Players can and are encouraged to discuss moves with each other in order to coordinate resources and attempt to keep the world safe from whatever you decide to name the diseases (and you will wind up naming them).

Image courtesy user nnjed on
So what do I think of Pandemic? It is great! Ginny and I have gotten it out to the table several times since I got it, and we both enjoy it. It's nice to have a game where we are working together rather than against each other. The game length of just about an hour makes this easy to play after the little ones go to bed. In full disclosure, I have not played a 3- or 4-player game, but I know it would be good fun. For a really good video of game play, you should check out Wesley Crusher Wil Wheaton and the Table Top series Pandemic episode.

I think if you can add this game to your collection, you definitely should. It readily available on Amazon, or your favorite game store/website.  Easily an 8 out of 10 for me.

Happy Saturday, and happy gaming!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gratituesday: My Little Hostess

It brings my heart great joy to see Nyla feed and love on her baby dolls just as we do in our home when we invite others to join us. I'm praying I can continue to teach her the life skill of opening her home and hosting fellowships. It's such a great way to get to know others. It's such a great way to tell others about the love of Jesus and to love them for who they are.

Below are a couple of pictures of her playing hostess. Her great-grandmother's tea set is now in possession by my mom so it gets played with each time we go out for a visit. Nyla decided, on her own, to pull up the baby dolls to the coffee table, using various forms of seating. A high chair, a rocking chair, a couple of scooters were used. A good hostess uses what's available and makes it work! Am I right? She didn't want to exclude any dolls, so she grabbed what seating she had. She set the table before them and played tea party. Be still my heart. What a blessing it was to watch her do this all on her own. She went to my mom and asked for a couple animal crackers because, "they need something to eat." 

She provided a time of fellowship for her friends and what a time they had!

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22: 6 (KJV)

This post is linked to this week's Gratituesday post at Heavenly Homemakers. Check out her blog for other great Gratituesday's posts.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Menu Plan: January 6-12

The first full week of January is upon us and it just seems crazy to write that out!
Time really does fly by the older you get. Yikes!

One of my 2014 goals is to blog 2 times a week. That seems simple enough to most but actually being intentional about it is hard for me. It's not that I don't love blogging but really and truly making the time to do it isn't on the top of my list. Sorry if that seems harsh, but it's the truth and I'm trying to be real. My girls are only this little for a short time and I don't want to blog more than 2 times a week. I want to be with them. :)

So, since one of my goals is to blog 2 times a week and I want to make it even easier on myself I'm going to blog my menu plan every week. Not only because I love menu planning and it's the easiest blog to post, but also so my man can check out what we're having and he doesn't have to ask me everyday. :) Plus, I have quite a few people tell me they like to see what we're eating for dinners and what's new in my kitchen. So here goes... first menu plan of 2014!

b: eggs with baked goods
l: KDO-noodles, cheese, pepperoni's, fruit
d: sweet and sour chicken, brown rice, steamed broccoli

b: pancakes and bacon
l: grilled cheese or mini pizza
d: stretch the budget: leftovers (read more of this idea here)

b: oatmeal or cereal, fruit
l: peanut butter sandwich, fruit
d: mexican lasagna

b: omelets or egg sandwich
l: leftovers from last night
d: ravioli lasagna, salad and bread

b: eggs with baked goods
l: KDO-noodles, cheese, pepperoni's, fruit
d: cheesy chicken and rice casserole

b: special day-I make a fun breakfast since I have more time (i.e. donuts, waffles, danish)
l: leftovers from Thursday night
d: breakfast: sourdough waffles and bacon

b: something from the freezer since it's church day
l: peanut butter sandwich, fruit (in the car on the way home)
d: leftovers from the week

Is there anything new cooking in your kitchen this week?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 2014 Goals

This year I've set some actual goals for myself. In the past I've set some goals but didn't really put much thought into them, etc. I just wrote to write something. Does that make sense? I never followed through and this year may be no different but I'm hopeful. I've typed them up and printed them off and tacked it to the fridge and it's in my planner (which I carry around all the time with me). So, I'm putting into action. It won't be perfect and I won't beat myself up but I have some very attainable goals, not too lofty, that will help me be a better version of me, with God's help. I will pray over my goals all year and adjust them as needed. I did write out some basic yearly goals that I can adjust monthly (you'll see what I mean below).

I've had some help with my goals. I've talked it out with Daniel, had him look over them and he knows where I stand. I know he'll support me in them. I've also used Cornerstone Confessions as a bit of a guide for my goals this year. I also like her post on Forming New Habits. It goes into a bit more depth on the S.M.A.R.T. goals and what it means.
I also like, How to change your life by setting goals by Money Saving Mom.

Without further ado, here are my January 2014 goals...


As a wife:
date night with Daniel 1x

As a mom:
read Little House on the Prairie to the girls during lunch
read to the girls a minimum of 30 minutes a day
memorize 1 Bible verse a week, using AWANA as our guide
craft 1x a week

As a daughter/sister:
dinner and a movie with my sister at her house 2x
dinner with my parents 1x
movie date with Mom and Sister 1x (this could also be a painting class or just a get-together)


Spiritual Growth:
memorize 1 scripture per week (see above)
complete Jen Hatmaker's Seven Bible study
participate in women's circle

Physical Health:
pilates 3x a week
purchase Trim Healthy Mama book and implement some lifestyle changes in my life
weigh in and take measurements on January 1

Mental Health:
read 3 books (I have already picked out my 3 books for each month through May, it helps me stay focused)
Cold Tangerines (reading now)
Called Home
Quiet (I purchased this back in September and have yet to finish it, even though it's a great book!)

Home Management:

Upkeep and Organization:
clean baseboards, upstairs and downstairs
pull out washer and dryer and clean under and behind them
organize office desk and office closet (it's a big ol mess)

revamp our 2014 grocery budget
revamp our 2014 budget (D got a new job in early December and we need to budget anyways)


blog 2x a week

look into adopting a child from Compassion International
invite a couple/family over for dinner 2x

This seems like a lot at first glance but the more I look at the more I realize I just need to manage my time better during the day. Thankfully, the girls still take naps during the day and I can utilize my time better during their naps. I usually sit down on the couch and watch Amazon Prime during nap but I achieve nothing by doing that. I need to be finishing laundry for the day, prepping dinner and strengthening my mind muscles. :)

I've decided to divide the nap time up and become more productive. I get roughly 2 hours of naps from them, from Nyla at least, so I've decided to do the following: 30 minutes-prep dinner, finish up daily chores (i.e. laundry, sweep kitchen), 30 minutes/1 hour-Bible study (see above) and read and 30 minutes/1 hour-rest or actually nap. Y'all, I'm not a napper unless I'm sick or just completely exhausted. The last couple of weeks I've found myself napping a bit more and I feel so good after getting up from it. Daniel's work hours are longer than we're used to and it's nice feeling refreshed after my nap since I'm with the girls by myself longer these days (he used to get home at 3:30 now it's more like 5 or after).

I guess the thing for me with these goals is to be flexible and pray a lot over them. They may look different year-end because God lays something new on my heart. I want to be open and flexible to change. Sometimes, I can be rigid with schedules and such. :( That's the organizer in me. It's hard for me to see past my list!

This brings me to the final thought: our word of the year. I struggled to come up with my own word and had quite a few floating around in my head but nothing really stuck. Daniel told me his word last night: ENJOY. I immediately loved the word. And thought it not only fit him but me and us as a family. We are going to enjoy the girls being little (since it's such a short time), the food we eat (in moderation), the budget we set for ourselves, being a little more frugal, saving more, being with family, hosting more dinners here, the downtime we have, the games we play and whatever comes our way. We are going to ENJOY each day we're given. Isn't that what life is about? Enjoying it?

Do you have a word for 2014 or a Bible verse for the year?
Do you set goals and stick with them?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from the Gafford Family!

We're thankful you're here and reading our little blog!

I'll be posting our goals and our word for the year this week. So stop by tomorrow!