Hallmark and Lifetime Movies

I used to compare my life with a really long Lifetime Movie- you know the dramatic story of a heroine who goes thru some awful stuff and yet comes out ok in the end and sometimes not so okay. The movies are long, they are full of drama, grief, suspense and usually a bad guy. From 1990 to about 1998 my life was a series of bad Lifetime movies. There was no happy endings, there was strife and uncertainty. I always wanted my life to be magical and beautiful and full of sweet things. I wanted good friends, a great relationship, I wanted to have kids and have a full life. What I wanted was a Hallmark Movie ending and I am happy to say I got mine.

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Well I by no means have an “ending” because true love and happiness doesn’t have a happy ending because there is no end in site.  I have been married to the love of my life since 2001, having met in June of 1999. We have 3 beautiful kids, 2 of whom are teenagers, and 1 on the way. We have evolved past sleepless nights and diapers and the kids are practically self sufficient so it’s time for me to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have always had a thing for writing. I journaled as a kid and always wrote stories. I enjoy sharing personal stories with friends and family and since Facebook I have shared my life with my friends and family. What I began doing about 4 years ago was blogging and now I have decided to publish a book or two. One based on this blog is exactly that- a compilation of blog posts which have been edited and expanded to share life tips, and serves as my personal survival guide. The other book is based on my other blog, Continue to Live and Flourish, and it’s going to be a more gritty guide to survival. I will go into the reality of the harsh years (my Lifetime movie) and how I survived it all and how you too can survive anything too.

I am excited and I know that my life will end like a Hallmark Movie- with a happy ending. I’m in the middle of it- happiness, love and joy and I couldn’t be well happier. I am 45, gray haired, and occasional aches and pains and I could care less because I am fulfilled and I am happy. My husband is a supportive force and my kids are the best. I am surrounded by love on a daily basis. Our dog, Snickers, is a cuddle bug who shares the wee hours of the morning with me while I write. I have everything I have ever wanted and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me. I know that there is much more to this life and I look forward to sharing it with all of you.

Christmas and New Year’s Wishes

Christmas is often a wonderful time of year where you can reconnect with family near and far and you can start to plan New Year’s wishes. Christmas for us is a much needed week of family stay-cation. This week we have plans to hit the Chicago History Museum, Orbit Skate, and GameWorks all courtesy of Groupon. Saving money is what one needs to do when you’ve had the medical spending year we have had. So, one of our New Year’s wishes is no more medical drama and costs for 2018. Christmas was lovely. A slow, carefree day although the kids were up at the crack of dawn- no joke- Meghan was up at 4am and woke her brothers up and they remained up til we woke John up at 6:58am. By the time we sauntered downstairs it was 7:25am and because they’d been up so early they simply wanted to see the tree and the evidence that indeed Santa had come and then they all wanted breakfast. Breakfast on Christmas day is my now famous danish. It was so good, buttery and overly indulgent. It was the perfect way to start the day.

This danish is reminiscent of the Entemann’s Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danishes and in fact that is how I found this great recipe! It’s easy as all you have to do is toss the ingredients into the bread machine in the dough setting- take it out when it beeps just before the rise, form into 5 logs, slather your cream cheese filling and raspberry jelly and cover in saran wrap- let it rise for 30 min and bake for 40 min and drizzle with icing. It’s a fantastic way to start the day. I make it the night before and put slices into the toaster oven for a warm, buttery, breakfast.

Today is the day after Christmas and lucky for us we have 5 slices of danish left. It’s a day of reflection and beginning to think about fulfilling our Christmas wishes and preparing for the New Year. One of my wishes is to lose the 15 lbs that have found my waistline in the last 3 months. I started today off with just 11 minutes on the exercise bike. I know that if I do too much to start I will never be successful. My goal is to do a minute more each day til I’m up to 30 min and I will continue that daily. It’s a great and fast way to sit and ride while I catch up on email and Facebook. I can distract myself while the minutes pass. What has changed in the past 2 months is no longer walking Snickers far distances. Her cancer/mass is making it harder to go for long walks and the cold is making that impossible today. So I need to replace my 30 minute walk with the bike. I need to add some other things too. I found my old fit bit and I’m going to charge it and see how many steps I am taking. I never did 10,000 (did that on a rare day) but I was about 8-9K and I built up to that from a meager 2700 when I first put the fit bit on over a year ago. I want my 2018 goal to be 10,000 steps a day and I want to start walking on the fitness track at the local Community Center. Hopefully I can find a partner in crime to meet me 1-2 nights a week to add that into my regimen.

Healthy food choices are another item on my to-do list. I have been eating drive-thru goodies that I should not be. Breakfast sandwiches, and donuts from the best donut place around, Spunky Dunkers. Not daily by any means but a change from my no-drive-thru policy. I am excited to start cooking meals more often and to ensure we have foods like baked lasagna ( I make a mean vegetarian healthy version) and chicken casseroles that are not only good for you but taste good. For me it’s not about not eating this or that it’s about portion control. I also think that hitting 45 has done something to my metabolism so I’m going to work on kick-starting it again. Fifteen pounds doesn’t sound like a lot but my pants don’t fit and I just don’t feel like myself. I’ve maintained 145-150 for nearly 15 years with one blip year where I got up to 169 over our first winter here in 2013 and just as fast as it came on it came off. It was the year of the Polar Vortex and I baked a LOT. I am hoping this is another blip year. I have been baking more and the past 2 weeks alone I have eaten more cookies than I normally consume in a year. So 2018- is a less cookie eating, more exercise year for me.

I am looking forward to hearing what the kids’ New Year’s Wishes are. We make a list every single year of things they want to do, either individually or with the family and we accomplish each and every single one of them over the course of the year. In year’s past items like, ride my bike, learn to cook dinner, playing more board games, going to the Science Museum, etc. are all on the list. This year I am putting going to the Aquarium and the Planetarium on the list along with the Discovery Museum in Milwaukee. I’d like to see the Red Sox play again next summer and we plan to go back East to visit family in June and there are a lot of things to add to that week’s to-do-list. I can’t wait to see what the kids want to do.

I wish for a healthy 2018. That is probably one of my biggest wishes. We have been relatively healthy but 2017 was full of doctors, exams, a major jaw surgery for John (double jaw) and he’s still 5 months into recovery still recovering. Cole was in a wheelchair for 6-8 weeks (I’ve lost track of time there) and then had a bout of issues that caused more tests. Last year we had a blood disorder diagnosed and thousands of dollars in medical bills, tens of thousands. Medical bills really put a crimp on our life. We were unable to go back to New England to visit family last summer simply due to all the money we have spent on medical this past year. We hope that 2018 is a low cost year for medical. We have found a new doctor, a great Chiropractor, who I believe will keep our costs reduced simply by checking in with him. I was having neck issues and probably would have landed in PT and more and a few weeks of 100% covered visits (as we’d met our max deductible) and I’m 100% again. He helped Cole get back to walking and gave us some tips on how to reduce his IBS symptoms which are now also 100% gone. I had no idea Chiropractic could truly heal and treat the entire body.

I hope that 2018 brings new opportunities for me. I am working on editing my 1st book and republishing it as well as finishing my 2nd book and getting it published. I want to work on my blog and perfect how to market it more. I want to write daily and find opportunities to make some money. I’d like to pay down all our debt (well all but the mortgage of course) and still find time to put some away for fun. I want 2018 to be filled with family fun and finally a real vacation. We haven’t been away for a real vacation in years. One where you go out to eat and you go to new museums, lay on a beach and swim and watch the kids have the time of their lives. I do not remember the last time we went away where we all had a great time. Last year we went to a water park in Wisconsin and I survived that trip. Although the kids had fun, I did not enjoy it. Sensitivity to chlorine and the noise- the amount of noise drowned out any ability to possibly read a book or enjoy any conversation. I will never do that again. What I will do is a quiet beach, and a week in New England by the ocean. That I can do and will do next June.

I also wish for health and happiness for all my friends and family. I know that each of us are on our own journeys and they look and feel different for everyone but there are some commonalities. We all want to be healthy and we all want to feel good about ourselves and we all want to enjoy time with loved ones. We want less stress, and we want to be financially secure and even have a bit more for some fun money. We want to be good and we want to give. Giving is the best gift we can give ourselves. And we all want something else, something more and that’s not universal. Some of us want to buy a new home in 2018 or we want a new career or a new baby. Some of us want to fall in love and find happiness. Some of us want to read more, and exercise more and enjoy fun times with friends and family. Whatever you wish for- I hope you get your wishes and have a Happy and Healthy 2018!

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Christmas is Coming….

Christmas is a coming,
The goose is getting fat
Won’t you put a nickel
In the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a nickel
Then a penny will do
If you haven’t got a penny,
The God bless you

Christmas is a coming,
The snow is on the ground
Elves are wrapping presents,
And cheer is all around
Santa’s getting ready for
His sleigh ride tonight
Rudolph is the leader,
With his nose so bright

Christmas is a coming,
Let’s decorate the tree
Hang up baby’s stocking,
Make sure there’s one for me
Mom is in the kitchen,
Baking gingerbread
Daddy’s tasting frosting, his
Mouth’s all green and red

Christmas is a coming,
The goose is getting fat
Won’t you put a nickel
In the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a nickel
Then a penny will do
If you haven’t got a penny, then
God bless you
If you haven’t got a penny,
Then God bless you

If you want to hear this lovely tune you can go to this

YouTube video and listen for yourself!

Christmas is really coming and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Some years I can’t wait for Christmas to come and other years I dread it but this year I am not sure. I was so excited for it to come and yet know I’m not ready. Actually it’s the first year I am ready. All the presents are wrapped. That has never happened before. I can’t recall the last time we didn’t wrap presents til the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Eve and this year with teenagers who don’t sleep til 11pm I was imagining an “all nighter” but apparently that will not happen this year. I had a spare 3 hours the other day and I wrapped up everything.

We even had time to adopt a family friend this year- they just got diagnosed with cancer and it was obvious that they needed Christmas so we just made it happen with the generosity of some friends and some ingenuity. Maybe that’s why I feel like this Christmas doesn’t matter. When you know someone is fighting for their life, Christmas is just another day. But it is magical. I wonder if the magic of the season will consume this family so they can enjoy some much needed magic before Chemotherapy starts on the 26th.

I don’t know if I should bake more, or do more, or rest more but I do know this will be a special few weeks. It’s the first time the kids have been back to public school in 5 years and the first time we have this limited amount of time with them in between semesters. Quinn isn’t even happy about having 2 weeks off, “I won’t see anyone for 2 weeks Mom!” I guess he will miss his newfound school friends. I imagine we can invite them over but it’s the teenager’s world so I will ask if he’d like to do that. Meghan will have friends over and she will go places as she’s not afraid to make her social life happen. Cole will have a few friends over and enjoy every minute.

So Monday is Christmas and it will be magical if I get my mind in the right headspace. I miss family from Massachusetts and that’s probably putting a damper on it for me too. Mind you, we haven’t been traveling home for Christmas since we moved but for whatever reason, aging parents etc. are making it feel more important than ever. We will skype over the holiday break though to ease any home-sick-ness.

So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2018 be a wonderful year full of Health and Happiness! Here’s a Happy Holiday pic that our doggie daycare took of our dog, Snickers! Merry Christmas to all!!!

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The Village is Real

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A week and a few days ago my friend’s life got turned upside down. Her beloved husband, Mike, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal cancer. Mike, a self employed auto-body painter, is now out of work and home preparing for the fight of his life. Chemo begins on Dec 26th so they have a bit of time to enjoy some time together. Life is expensive and they are not prepared for the loss of income -nor are most of us- and so their Village has come together.

Friends arrived last week with groceries, and Christmas is being gathered as Elves (most of whom do not know the family personally) purchase and wrap gifts for the entire family. Christmas dinner is being purchased and delivered and we are working on helping as much as we can. This is proof that there is love in the world. Cancer Sucks and we all know this but there is still GOOD in the world as we go through horrible things.

I am trying to just wrap my head around how a 54 year old, healthy man, wakes up one day with a Stage 4 diagnosis and no symptoms prior to this- just a few days of not feeling quite right and a lump on one’s neck. That’s it. The good news is he hasn’t been sick before this. Most folks walking into Chemo with Stage 4 Esophageal cancer have been sick for a while, are thin from issues with eating prior to their diagnosis. Mike has a fighting chance and it’s our turn as the community at large to help.

I have never done this before but I am sharing their Go Fund Me page here just in case you want to do some good before the Holidays.

If you find yourself in a position of need, do share that with friends and family. Start as I lovlingly call it an “Oh Shit fund” as we never know when something awful could happen to us. But even with the best savings plan as recommended by professionals – having 6 months of income in storage- we are all just a paycheck or a few away from disaster. Without friends, family and other sources of assistance most of us in this situation would be in a similar spot.

So during this Christmas season- do some good- it doesn’t matter if it’s for Jill and her family or for anyone else. Surprise your neighbors with tins of home-made cookies. Walk your neighbor’s dog. Buy the person behind you a coffee, or pay someone’s library fines. Little gestures or big ones are all part of what makes this world an awesome place. Go- do some good today! (Best part is you feel great when you do!)

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There is so much LOVE in the world

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When 2017 has been a tough year for a lot of folks with political issues and the world seeming to be not as nice a place to live sometimes things come back and surprise you. Yesterday I wrote Cancer Sucks on my Continue to Live and Flourish blog and it’s true, Cancer does Suck. Our friends family just got diagnosed and it’s going to be a really rough ride. I am a blabbermouth and although I have not shared who these people are I have talked to my friends about it, friends that do not know them.

I mentioned that I was worried about how they’d make ends meet. The Dad has cancer and can’t work. He’s self employed so it makes things a bit more complex. Money will run out and soon. So what do you do to help I asked a friend. She said “give me a minute, I’ll call you back!” Huh, what just happened. So a few hours later and I’ve got Christmas dinner for the family and presents for under the tree. Mind you, after I told my friend, I ran to Target and did some Christmas shopping after getting a very small list from the family. I wanted to relieve the burden of Christmas so they can concentrate on getting to the Oncologist (they were diagnosed less than a week ago and are having 6 appointments this week to determine a plan). Life is complicated enough they do not need to worry about the holidays and they have a 12 year old so I want to make sure his Christmas goes off without a hitch.

Meanwhile I wrote some friends from our local Boy Scout troop and asked for help. In the email I mistakenly added my Orthodontist office and just like that everyone is pitching in- even the Orthodontist. NONE of these people know this family and they are all bringing cash, gifts or gift cards to our Monday meeting. By Tuesday I will be able to have Christmas wrapped up and ready to deliver. I will also have gift cards, enough to pay for a month worth of groceries, and cash to just well- be used for whatever the heck they need. My faith in humanity is restored.

It’s like that scene in the Grinch where his heart grows 3 times the size. I feel like the LOVE in Palatine is just oozing out of every single person I talk to. I’m not done yet either. I am going to blast their funding page when it gets built all around the world. I know it’s hard to ask for help. I know how hard it is to wonder how you’ll pay the mortgage when an income earner is down and out. In 2010, John had a health episode that led to 9 months out of work and we could have easily lost our home. I went back to work but couldn’t pay the mortgage. Similar to my friend. She works full time but in today’s day and age you divide and conquer. She can pay some bills, and food, etc but not all of it. Life gets messy and our savings- what savings- dwindles to nil at times and in this case they don’t have savings to survive for long.

This is where humanity pitches in. We are all one paycheck (or a lot of us) from being homeless. John and I found out how important this was back in 2010 and we began to save. If this happened to us today we’d be able to make it for about 6 months. Our financial adviser told us we need to bulk up our savings to cover a year or more of costs. I didn’t fully appreciate how much a family should save because in one quick swift twist of fate it can all change in an instant.

Our friends will be ok. I’m not sure health-wise how things will go but no matter what happens, no matter how grave, this mother and son and father will be surrounded by love. The people that do know them are pitching in. Dinners to be made, a help calendar established by another good friend. Life will keep on going. Mom will take unpaid family leave to care for her husband and family and friends will figure out a way to make the mortgage payment. I feel strongly about this. I remember coming home in 2010 to an envelope on the door. It contained an odd amount of cash- like 83 dollars and I drove straight to the gas station and filled up. From that day forward our mailbox was the ATM. Anonymous and often signed notes with cash, checks and more kept flowing in. This is how we paid our mortgage for 3 months. Family, friends, college friends, when folks heard about John’s situation and being out of work they all pitched in to help.

Christmas 2010- the PTA from our school dropped off presents. Like a few bags of presents. Nobody wanted for anything that year. It was almost embarrassing how full our tree was. I was really in shock. I didn’t ask for this but somehow people knew and we were going to be ok and we were. I feel strongly that this is God’s way of asking me to pay back and pay it forward. We have adopted a family each and every year to buy gifts for as a way to always remember Christmas 2010 but my friend’s situation hits closer to home and I know I had to do something.

So if you are reading this and you haven’t figured out what charitable thing to do this year consider making a donation. It would go directly to a needy family. I am managing the donations for now. Once the Go Fund me page or whatever fundraising tool they choose goes up I will edit this blog and put the information here. I am buying Jewel Osco gift cards with the cash to make grocery purchasing easy for the Mom.

It’s going to be a hard road ahead and a tough fight. They did a PET scan and the cancer has spread. It’s not going to be easy by any means but it can be easier with the help of friends and family and complete strangers.

SO when in doubt remember- LOVE really does WIN. Love can conquer all. It doesn’t save everyone, and it’s not going to fix the world or fix our political system or fix a leaky pipe or a broken bridge but LOVE will show up just when you need it. I know that all of the generosity and LOVE that is oozing out of Palatine will help right the world for this family. It will make it so they can concentrate on healing and for that I am forever grateful.

How to Keep a Cough at Bay

In 2009 I had a bad flu followed by a severe cough. I was put on cough medicine with Codeine and the cough was suppressed but I felt awful. I landed in the hospital for 14 days with a severe lung infection and it took months to recover. While in hospital the doc said “you know- you should never use cough medicine! Instead use VICKS vapor rub on your feet.” I thought he was crazy. But apparently if you suppress a cough you allow the germs to multiply and remain in your lungs. Coughing gets the crud out of your lungs, not coughing and it can turn into awful things like lung infections.

Ever since 2009 I have used Vicks Vapor rub on my feet to control my cough and it works in minutes. I also take Mucinex which helps break up the mucous but the Vicks is my go to. Peppermint and Eucalyptus oil mixed with coconut oil works too. It’s a trick that even goes beyond coughs. Vicks can be used to treat toe-nail fungus, chest congestion, cough, achy muscles and more. Read all about it’s 12 amazing uses here.

I hope you don’t get a cold before Christmas but if you do- use Vicks Vapor Rub. It’s a real life saver!

 

Snow is Magical

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Snowfall is magical. It’s especially enchanting when it occurs overnight and you wake to the wonder of white. I can say the only thing I like about waking up at 4am with our dog  is moments like this. I actually walked her around the entire block. Our normal “black as night” walk was bright and lit up with the power of nature. The snowflakes glistened off the occasional street light and more so off the Christmas lights. It was probably one of the best moments in the past month. The silent of the night, the glistening snow and the feeling that something magical is in the air.

It’s interesting how something as simple as snow can change one’s perspective. Our dog, Snickers, got diagnosed with a mass on her spleen and it causes her to have extra pressure on her bladder. She’s been doing great- making it about 6 hrs. That means when you go to bed at 10pm she wakes you up at 4am and after a month or so of this I’ve gotten used to my newfound morning.

The coffee is brewing and I can start editing my book some more. It’s not a loss of time but a huge gain of it. I am lucky and I should hopefully continue to feel this way. Makes me think of the time change. Before the time change, Snickers would wake up at 5am. I partially wonder if part of her early wake-ups is that she doesn’t read a clock and knows that this is when she wakes up! Whatever the reason she’s given me a gift. The nudge I needed to write and finish this book and the clarity of moments like this when I get to see the world in a whole new light.

I hope the snow sticks around for a few days and I wish for another dusting, if not more, for Christmas. It really does change things. It makes things much more exciting. We will be getting our tree this morning so the snow can melt off in the garage before we bring it in and decorate it. Decorating is a lot like snow. You transform a green tree to a magical brightly lit amazing masterpiece. We have ornaments from years gone by and they bring back so many memories that is magic all by itself.

So enjoy the magic wherever you can find it. Be it snow, or holiday decorations or somewhere else, look for the magic. It changes your perspective and makes life special.

Friday- a day to prepare for amazing

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Fridays are amazing. At least they are for me. It’s the day I can prepare for the weekend and for Friday nights. Friday night is family night- games, popcorn, cookies, pizza, movies. It’s time to rejoice at the end of the workweek and to not to have to do any homework and to just have fun after a long week of work and school.

I am a stay-at-home mom so I am never off-duty but I am able to enjoy myself throughout the week and it brings me joy to prepare for Friday evenings when my husband and my kids can toss off the worries of the week and just enjoy themselves.

Today is going to be great. Cole, who has had some medical issues lately, is back to school and it’s a band field trip to play Christmas Carols at an Old Folks Home. Meghan and Quinn have regular school days and John gets to work from home today (maybe a lunch date is in our future?). No matter what we can have a great evening together.

We started the weekend early last night when we all stopped everything we were doing to watch “Psych- the Movie” complete with Pineapple dump cake. It was a homage to the pineapple in every single episode and something silly to make it fun. We had a great time and enjoyed sitting together on a Thursday evening. Normally it’s a rush of homework and reading and bedtimes but we took 2 hours and just sat together and laughed.

We may luck out and get some snow tonight too. I’m excited because tomorrow we will get our Tree. Tonight we should probably make room in the living room for it. There is really no good place to put it so we have to figure out how to reconfigure the room so we can still sit and watch TV but also sit and look at a beautiful Christmas tree. Hopefully we figure it out.

Life is good and Friday is a great way to start the weekend and begin to reboot for another long week ahead. So go and enjoy your Friday. I know we will.

The Beauty of the Night…

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I am getting used to my newfound 3-4am wake up. Our dog, Snickers, has a mass on her spleen and this causes pressure on her bladder and we need to take her out every 5 hours. So if you go to bed at 10pm she needs to go out at 3am or 11pm 4am. So no matter what Mon-Fri it’s my job to wake up and take her out. At first it was awful. I felt so tired every single day. Now I look forward to the beauty of the night.

Tonight for example or rather early this morning, I saw snow! A beautiful sparkly display that I got to enjoy in the peace and quiet of the night. Pitch black with the glow of Christmas lights on the neighborhood houses. A field mouse scattered by drawing Snickers interest. A bit of snow hit my cheek and I turned to see the beauty that was before me. The crisp wintery air took my breath away and I just enjoyed every single minute.

I came inside, gave Snickers her medicine and a bone and she quickly settled in on the couch (her dog bed) and fell fast asleep. I, however, remained awake as I do every night when I wake up. Even when the kids were little, if my feet hit the floor, I was awake. It’s ok. I’ve gotten used to it now and just increased to 2 cups of coffee a day to survive. One at 5am and one at around 11am and I’m good to go.

Beauty reveals itself to us day or night. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to be awake when no-one else is. It gives  me time to write, time to read and time to contemplate our lives and this holiday season plenty of time to online shop (which may NOT be a good thing- probably the only downside of this whole situation).

We are lucky to have Snickers with us still. It was pretty grave a few weeks ago, but now she’s stable and it’ll be ok. John takes over on weekends so I can get a full night sleep and it is amazing how much I appreciate that extra few hours. Sleeping til 6am feels amazing now. I used to complain- NO MORE.

Sometimes life gives you lemons. I am not making lemonade at 4am but I am enjoying the Beauty and the ability to be awake. My life isn’t that hard or that extraordinary. I am up taking care of a member of our family. I would do it for any of my kids, my husband, so why not our dog. I am also lucky because I think I will meet my self-imposed deadline to finish my book by the end of December and release it in January.

So go- wake up – most of you are probably still asleep – at least my Midwest located folks- and enjoy the Beauty of the day!

Christmas Gifts that we just love

Christmas is that time of year when we get a week off in between Christmas and New Year’s to have some quality family time. No traveling, no running around, just quiet, fun days and nights doing a “stay-cation.” We are a family who love Board Games and books and doing fun things together. Here are some of our favorite gifts we have given the kids over the years which were a huge success.

One of our best finds is Animal Logic. It’s a game that you can play together or alone. It’s a logic puzzle game where you have to get the Safari animals out of desert in a pattern without breaking any of the rules. It’s great fun!

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We have found that games are a great gift for our kids. It’s a way for us to connect. A bowl of popcorn and a good game and we are talking and laughing for hours. Coup is another great game. It’s a fast, quick paced, card game that is really fun. It’s all about strategy and keeping a poker face. We all love this game and the best part is each round is only 10 -15 min long! One of my all-time favorite new games is No Stress Chess. I never understood how to play chess so when my oldest was going for his Chess Merit badge and he wanted his brother to learn we purchased this game. One side of the game- you use cards and play each card which teaches you a move and a type of playing piece. Each card explains what your piece can do. You play the card you are dealt and you move. Once you have mastered that, you turn the board over and play Chess! It’s fun and engaging and a great time had by all!

                                                                  

Old school is what we do when we play Clue, Monopoly Deal andRACKO. Clue is a classic mystery game full of fun and excitement. It’s fun for all ages and a fast paced game with a twist! Monopoly Deal is a 20 minute or less version of Monopoly and it’s great for kids who can’t sit for too long or just for a night when you don’t have a lot of time to play a game or you want to play several games in one night. RACKO is one of my all time favorite games. You have to get your cards in order from lowest to highest despite being dealt anything but. My good friend, Lisa, introduced me to this game and it’s been a quick hit!

                                                              

This Christmas we hope that these gifts arrive under the tree. We are looking forward to playing Oregon Trail and surviving! It’s supposed to be a fun game. Chameleon is a card game where one person (the Chameleon) is the only one who knows the answer. I’m excited to see how our kids enjoy this game. Timeline has a variety of card games which all form a timeline when you are done. Timeline Diversity is one of the series and we hope to enjoy it just as much as we enjoy Timeline American History which is a very popular game currently!

What I love about Board Games is how it connects us. We get pizza or make popcorn, drink some hot cocoa and share stories, laughs and music. It’s a great way to connect with your 11, 13 and 14 year olds. It’s even fun to invite their friends over who are somewhat shocked that we like to play games together but once they get into it they can’t wait to come back and do it again. Check out the games and see what you think? (affiliate links included- which keep Advice from Allie in coffee)