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Author: BTaylor

Family Game Night Apps

Family Game Night Apps

We love family game night. Board games, card games or party games can be a lot of fun but the new digital group games on our devices have brought a new excitement to our  family game night.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite family game night apps in no particular order.

  1. Spaceteam

This one is fun if you have multiple devices in your home and your kids can read pretty well. Each person needs to download the app on their device and be in the same room on the same wifi network. Each person  will have a control panel on their screen and you’re all working together as a “space team” to get the rocket ship to the next sector.

A command will appear on your screen and you have to read it aloud so the person with that control panel can perform the necessary task. You’ll also be receiving commands simultaneously that you’ll need to perform on your device. For instance, I may give the command, “Engage Hydrofusion” but you’ve got the Hydrofusion flip switch on your device so I have to give you the command so you can perform it. Other commands require all players to participate together. You can play with 2-8 people so playing with my boys means we all end up screaming with excitement. Accurately complete enough of the commands and you’ll arrive safely at the next sector. Beware…the levels get increasingly harder the further you go.

2. Heads Up

I’m sure it tells my age but this one reminds me of a favorite childhood gameshow- $25,000 Pyramid. One person holds the device on their head and the rest of the group uses words or actions to describe the word on the screen. When the person holding the device guesses the word correctly they tilt the phone down to move to the next word. If a word is too difficult you can pass by tilting the phone up. I was originally leery of this game because of the rating but we’ve had it for a while now and have never come across anything inappropriate. As always, use your own discretion and check it out for yourself before turning the kids loose unsupervised because I said it was ok.

3. Who Can’t Draw

This one works for 2-8 players with one device to play. It’s a cross between the old Telephone game and Pictionary.

You’ll choose a word to draw and do your best to draw the picture on the tablet/phone. When your time is up you’ll pass the phone to the next player. They will attempt to draw the same word without seeing the other drawings. Continue passing the phone around until everyone has drawn. The last player does not draw but guesses the word based on the drawings. You then vote on the player “Who Can’t Draw” and that person receives the Worst Artist award which can sometimes lead to hurt feelings in our house- I choose to use that as a life lesson. You’ve been warned.

4. Just Dance Now

This one is my favorite. It’s like the Just Dance games you’ve probably played on Wii or PlayStation but without needing a specific game console and without buying new versions of the game to have access to new songs. Simply download the game on your device and then connect it to an iPad, laptop, Apple TV, etc.

There are a few free songs but $2.99 gets you 24 hour access to all the songs and $24.99 gives you a years subscription to all the songs. Using your phone as the controller you can dance your way to a five star finish. Our favorite part is that we can compete with family and friends from around the world simply by entering the room number and having them enter it as well. As an added bonus, I reached my exercise goal on my Apple Watch after just a few songs without even going to the gym. There is also a “workout” section that still has you dancing but with a focus on exercise.

5. Super Family Hero

This one is geared towards the younger kids and works well with non readers too. Adults and kids can play together on one screen but have tasks of varying difficulty based on their age. You’ll go on interactive story adventures and try to defeat Dr. Excuses through a series of minigames, some that require all of the players working together at the same time. This one works on a phone but is much easier to navigate on an iPad or tablet.

I love how each of these games fights against the usual iPhone isolation and causes us to play together, talk to each other and work together as a team. They work great for family time, summer boredom busters or even your next social gathering. Have fun!

Too Big T-Shirt Tutorial

Too Big T-Shirt Tutorial

Sure you’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt but was the t-shirt too big?

Don’t throw that too big T out just yet…grab some scissors, take a deep breath and snip away. It’s super simple.

To go from the oversized t-shirt on the left to the cute up-cycled creation on the right you need a t-shirt, scissors, pencil and a ruler.Start by folding your t-shirt in half and cutting off the sleeves and neck to make a tank top. Decide how long you want the shirt to be and cut off the needed amount from the bottom. 
Use the ruler to draw a straight line down the arm hole side of the shirt while it’s still folded in half. I made my slits an inch and a half but you can make them bigger/smaller depending on the size you want the shirt to be when completed. 
Cut strips through both sides of the shirt all the way to the pencil line. Open the t-shirt up. Remind yourself that it’s just a shirt you were going to throw away and cut a straight line along the fold on each side. Don’t stress over that fact that you just cut the shirt completely in half. 
Now tie the fringe together, one knot at a time, all the way down both sides of the shirt. 
Wash and dry the t-shirt as you usually would and then take a selfie of your adorable creation while your kids play WWF Smackdown on your bed because they know you are distracted.

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

I love learning about new products, movies, albums, restaurants, etc. from other people.

My philosophy is: if you take the time to tell me about it then it must be good. 

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite things. Don’t worry. I’m not trying to sell you Essential Oils, Rodan + Fields, It Works, Plexus, Beauty Counter or any of those other products populating your news feed. I just love these products and think you should know.

  1. Lil’ ScrubbiesThese silicone scrubbing pads are gentle on your skin and more effective than washing with your hands. It also doesn’t hurt that they cost $2.50 for two. The suction cup on the back allows you to stick it to the mirror or shower so they aren’t easily misplaced.

2. Read Scripture App

I must confess that when my husband told me about this app I balked at his nonsense. I told him I didn’t have that kind of time and I’d just stick to the Bible reading plan I was already using. If you know Britten you know how persistent he can be and aren’t surprised that now I’m telling you how crazy I am about this app. Not only is it a thematic Bible reading plan but it comes with these amazing videos from the Bible Project that help contextualize each of the 66 books. You can also set reminders, track your progress and ping yourself to help stay on track.

3. ROMWOD
I realize most of my “fitness challenged” friends just scrolled over this because you saw “WOD” in the name but, please don’t overlook this gem. As I approach the big 4-0 I’ve noticed my flexibility is decreasing, joint pain increasing and muscle tightness becoming a limiting factor not just in the gym but even when I’m sitting on the floor playing with my boys.

Romwod stands for Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day. It’s a website that provides daily videos designed to increase range of motion, optimize athletic performance, and promote recovery, healing, and longevity. The program is designed to open your joints and strengthen your ligaments/fascia so people at any age or fitness level can benefit from the program. Britten and I do it together in our living room floor while our boys laugh at us so it doubles as family time.

4. Infinity Belt

I have a love/hate relationship with belts. I love that they keep my pants up but hate how my shirt doesn’t lay smooth because of the chunky buckle. That is precisely why I love the Infinity Belt. The buckle is designed like a bra clasp so it lays flat under your clothes without being noticed. And…if you go through airport security as often as we do then you need to know this belt doesn’t have to be removed going through security checkpoints and that alone is worth the investment. The website shows ladies wearing the belt exposed but I personally only wear it when it’s covered by a shirt.

The mascara I use today I learned about from a friend who shared her favorite things on Instagram so I’d love to hear about the products that make your life a little easier.

 

Fighting Against Envy

Fighting Against Envy

We recently visited a Japanese inspired restaurant in our city that not only gives trainer chopsticksbut serves green tea and hot cocoa at the end of the meal. 

After dinner the waiter presented our four older boys with a steaming cup of hot cocoa in an adorable porcelain cup. For reasons I do not need to list, he chose not to give our youngest son a cup.

In approximately 0.4 seconds the entire restaurant knew that our boys had been given something the baby brother had not. The tears started to flow and the deafening sobs echoed throughout the room.

My heart raced and my cheeks flushed with embarrassment as I imagined the other parents glaring at me with disapproval. I quietly growled at the baby in my mean mommy voice while donning a forced smile tried to settle him down but nothing worked. The waiter realized the situation and rushed over with a cup of cocoa and the weeping and gnashing of teeth tears ceased.

Riding home that evening I thought about the fact that my heart can be equally as grimy when I don’t get what I want…and even more so when someone else does. And though I may not scream and cry in the middle of a quiet restaurant, if my thoughts were displayed for the world to see, it wouldn’t always be a pretty picture.

 

It’s hard when things don’t go like we’d hoped but we all experience it, in one way or another.

  • Someone else got chosen for the job you desperately wanted.
  • You’ve tried incessantly to get pregnant and another friend posted a sonar pic announcing her pregnancy.
  • You’ve been a bridesmaid so many times you could open a store front for gown rental but you’re still single.
  • Your friend posted a picture of an epic girls night out…except you weren’t invited.
  • You’ve lived in a rental home since day one of your married life and another friend just moved into her dream home.
  • You can’t afford to take your family to the beach for the weekend but everyone else is spending two weeks at a five star Disney resort.
  • You want to be a stay at home mom and go on playdates with all of your stay at home mommy friends but that just isn’t an option.
  • You can’t lose those extra pounds and all your girlfriends are sporting skinny jeans and posting bikini pics on social media.

One of my favorite quotes on the matter is from Lisa Terkeurst.

“But then there were other moments. Hard moments. Moments when I felt my friends’ lives were rushing past me in a flurry of met goals, new opportunities, and affirmations of their callings from God. It seemed like the world was literally passing me by.”

But what I would add to the quote is that at times as I’ve watched “the world pass me by” I’ve grown envious of what God is doing in another’s life. How quickly my sinful flesh wanted to resent another’s success or what someone else had. In a matter of seconds I became completely unaware of all the things I do have because I was blinded by the things I don’t. Instead of celebrating joy in another person’s life the bitter seed of envy took root and caused me to take my eyes off of Christ.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

Over time I’ve learned to recognize the warning signs in my own heart and developed a plan to turn my heart to God.

First– I search my heart to determine what about the situation is making me jealous. Is it an unfulfilled desire or a sense of entitlement? Does the envy stem from deep rooted fear or a sense of insecurity?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts”  Psalm 139:23

Second– I confess my sin & ask for forgiveness.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

Third-  I begin to praise God for what He has accomplished in the other person’s life. This part can be initially painful but the act of self discipline can change the focus of my heart almost immediately.

“Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” Isaiah 12:5

Today, let’s not to conceal the presence of envy in our hearts and instead let’s celebrate His faithfulness in our lives and the lives of others.

Egg Science

Egg Science

A very wise women once told me to enjoy the early elementary years of homeschool because around 3rd grade things would start to get a little more difficult. I couldn’t have possibly understood what she meant but her words proved to be true.

So, when she told me to take a deep breath and enjoy the later elementary years because 6th grade was going to sucker punch me…I listened and took her advice.

For me, it’s a combination of homeschooling four kids at the same time and one of them being in sixth grade but long gone are the days of finger paint, craft projects and theme oriented snack times. Goodbye fun mom, may you rest in peace.

I’ve learned that I’m more likely to do “fun things” if I incorporate them into our school day because lets be honest…when the weekend rolls around there’s a long list of other things I’d rather do.

For the last couple of weeks we’ve replaced our regular science curriculum with random egg science experiments from the internet and reached a unanimous decision- eggs are really cool!

Who knew eggs were strong enough to stand on? And how adorable is Breck’s face in this photo? He couldn’t contain his excitement from this experiment. 

We learned that with a few items you probably already have in your house you can completely remove the shell of an egg leaving only the membrane intact. When the shell is removed the egg absorbs the liquid it’s floating in which makes it larger.
The boys made predictions of how many books could be stacked on top of a raw egg before it cracked. We were horribly off on our predictions when our egg held 18 books. If you try this experiment be sure to put plastic under the egg. You’ll thank me later. The creativity came out when each of us had to come up with a way to protect our egg in the “Egg Drop Challenge.” 

And of course I jumped at the chance to stick a label on something but you probably already knew that. 

And oddly enough, it turns out wrapping a raw egg in Play-Doh is an excellent form of protection.

In an effort to check the “school box” I made journals for the boys to record the information in each day. Do you see what I did there? Cheesy, I know, but I just couldn’t resist. Happy Easter!

The Shocking Stove

The Shocking Stove

When we first moved into this apartment a couple of years ago I noticed I was getting shocked when I touched the stove, microwave or coffee pot.

I’m not referring to an uncomfortable “tingle” like when you were a kid and stuck your tongue to a 9 volt battery. I mean more of an all out “sling raw eggs across the kitchen while trying to cook breakfast” kind of shock.

We eventually found an electrician who told us our apartment wasn’t grounded and that he could fix it. He pulled the stove out from the wall and proceeded to drive a nail into the tile with a piece of wire wrapped around it. He pounded the nail deep into the tile and pushed the stove back in place. Viola! Problem solved.I have no idea what he did or why he did it. But, I do know it worked and my time in the kitchen was a lot less “electrifying” from that point on.

Unfortunately, the problem has returned. And while I’ve yet to sling raw egg across the kitchen, I have dropped a pot or two and screamed like a little girl.

“Call the electrician” is on my to do list but in the meantime I’ve had to get creative.

Whenever I’m cooking anything in my oven or on the stovetop I try to remember to put on shoes with a rubber sole so I won’t get shocked…which sounds a lot easier than it really is.

All too often I’m barefooted and my shoes are upstairs. If I don’t have time to run and get them I have to grab the next closest thing which usually turns out to be Britten’s flip flops. Stylish. I know.If Britten happens to be wearing his flip flops then I just grab whichever shoe I can squeeze my foot into. That often times is a little boy’s size six, which leaves me trying to shimmy my fat toes into enough of the shoe that I don’t get zapped.

But the most attractive ensemble is when I come straight home from the gym and kick my shoes off only to realize I need to take something out of the oven and I’m only wearing socks. Don’t judge, it’s all in the name of safety.
And while I won’t be winning any fashion awards anytime soon, at least I’m not cleaning up splattered egg.

Still Gettin’ Groceries

Still Gettin’ Groceries

Lately we’ve found ourselves in a particularly hectic season of life. Maybe it’s the fact that we have five children, maybe it’s that we homeschool, maybe it’s that I work part time, maybe I’m a giant cream puff and can’t handle the daily challenges of life. I’ll let you decide but don’t tell me the answer, m’kay?

In this season my constant prayer for myself is that God would allow me to see His grace in the daily grind of life. Those are the moments I often fail to see His goodness.

When the sink is full and dishes are pouring out onto the counter and there is no dishwasher. When the school days are long, the b’s still look like d’s and long division eludes us.
When it’s 95 degrees outside and I’m walking to the store in an abaya.
Don’t we all sometimes get weighed down by the daily tasks of life?

This week I was looking back through some old blog posts and came across a post I wrote nearly two years ago. We were living in a neighboring country and the simple task of going to the grocery store was sheer misery. I laughed out loud as I read the blog post in it’s entirety. Then I breathed a huge sigh of relief because that was a thing of the past. To completely appreciate the remainder of this post you need to read the original Gettin’ Groceries blog post. 

And while I’m still “Gettin’ Groceries” on a routine basis, things look a bit different this time around.

This week I pulled up the Danube app on my phone, sat in my favorite chair with a Diet Coke and ordered all the groceries I needed for the week. I then scheduled what day and time I wanted them delivered to my house and hit “place order.”

The next morning a kind young man rang the doorbell and delivered my groceries to the front door. No service charge, no delivery fee and no out of control grocery carts.
Praise hands ya’ll. 🙌🙌🙌🙌 All the praise hands. 🙌🙌🙌🙌
He handed me the receipt so I could pay and my grocery shopping was done. My what a difference a couple of years can make.

So the next time I get overwhelmed by the daily “stuff” I’m going to remind myself of the years we pushed  double grocery carts through the mall with our five kids in tow and I hope I will praise God for His goodness in the many small ways He pours it out each day.

Spartan Race 2017

Spartan Race 2017

This month the Spartan Race made it’s inaugural appearance in our city and despite the fact that we were barely over jet lag, Britten wanted to do it.

The boys saw how excited their dad was and quickly jumped on board with the idea of competing in the Spartan Junior. I’ve always wanted to do a Spartan Race but unfortunately women weren’t allowed to compete. However, we were allowed to spectate which means it was an event women and men could attend together and in our city that’s a major change kind of a big deal.

And while I was incredibly bummed that there wasn’t a ladies division, I was thrilled to watch from the sidelines and cheer on my guys. 

  1. For the kid’s race there weren’t specific winners. Every child that finished got a t-shirt and a medal. Brax was extremely jealous of his brothers so Britten gave him his medal so he could be like them.Speaking of medals, I’m going to take this opportunity to publicly brag on my man. Britten got 3rd place in his division. And while he’s probably going to reprimand me for posting this, he’s not here to stop me so I’m hitting publish and will apologize later. And while I’m certain my washing machine may never recover from all the mud, I am so incredibly proud of my guys.