Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Games

One of Gabe's teachers sent home some lists of games to play over the summer.  There are online and board games which she recommends, all that use different creative and critical thinking skills.  We've been trying, as a family, to play more board games lately, especially with our budget shrinking and our kids' brains developing.  So far we have had great success with Sorry and Jenga.   I am looking forward to working our way down this list.  

If you have any suggestions of others, please let me know!

1.  PDQ, by Gamewright.  The pretty darn quick word game.
2.  Quiddler, by Set Enterprises.  A short word game.
3.  Whatzit?, by Milton Bradley.  
4.  Taboo, by Milton Bradley
5.  Oodles of Doodles, by Think Fun.  The fast drawing use your noodle game.
6.  Apples to Apples, by Out of the Box Games.  A game of hilarious comparisons.
7.  Guess Who?, by Milton Bradley.  The original mystery face guessing game.
8.  I Spy Eagle Eye, by Scholastic.
9.  Blink, by Out of the Box Games.  A game of matching shape, count or color of cards.
10.  Matching Madness, by Cranium.  Matching shapes, patterns, numbers and colors.
11.  Blokus, by Educational Insights.  A strategy game for the whole family.  A Worldwide award winner!  (also highly recommended by Gabe's Reach teacher.)

Online Brain Games for Kids
1.  DANA - --
Check out the "Brainy Kids Online" section for games and activities, as well as a "virtual lab" to help your child learn more about the human brain.

2.  Games for the Brain -  -- From Mahjongg Solitaire and Chinese Checkers to trivia games and crime scene scenarios, there's a wide variety.

3.  Fun Brain - -- Web books and comics, movies, and classic fun brain games to keep kids interested.

The tutoring section of the site offers educational games for kids, as well as word puzzles, language builders, online stories, online musical games and mazes.

5.  LearningRx - -- Offers free downloadable copies of Think Magazine and LearningRx Magazine that contain fun brain-building games to take on the road or use at home.

6. - -- A world of math online.  Games including Peg Solitaire, a maze generator and other math-based games.

7.  Discovery Education -  -- See the Home Resources section for lessons and tutoring broken down by subject: math, science, social studies and English. 

8.  Kids Sites - -- A clearinghouse of sites that includes a section of games for younger kids.

9.  Cool Math 4 Kids - -- Touting itself as "an amusement park of math and more," this site offers math games, brain benders, math problems, a math dictionary, times tables and more.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drinks O' the Summer

Recently I've been introduced to two drinks which are lovely, light and refreshing for summer.  Which brings to mind my favorite summer cocktail, sangria.  I believe I feel a craving coming on.  First - my fave, then my two newest acquisitions.  Try all three and let me know what you think!

White Sangria 
First, it's a cinch to make.  Second, for a party, you must make it ahead of time, and anything that is pre-made and allows you to have more fun at your party is just gravy.  I strongly suggest finding a beautiful large glass pitcher, as this is very pretty and you will want to show it off.   It is also the perfect drink for guests to serve themselves.  And they will, again and again.  Make a double-batch if you suspect thirsty friends.   You don't need to spend a bundle on the wine, but getting a decent bottle will only improve the final result.  If you get a nice dry wine you will need the 1 cup of sugar, but if your wine is sweeter, cut back a tad.

2 bottles Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup brandy
1 cup sugar
2 lemons, sliced
2 limes, sliced
1 apple, sliced
Combine all the above ingredients in a large pitcher and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.  Just before serving add 1 liter of sparkling water, preferably lemon or lime flavored.

The next two drinks are great for any time of day, should the party start early...

Sunny Drink   Thanks to John and Paula for this little gem.  
1 shot vodka
1 cup Sunny Delight orange drink
1 Tbl grenadine
splash Sprite

Pink Drink    Thanks to Mike and Elizabeth for this tart and refreshing bevvy.
1 shot vodka
1 cup Ruby Red LIGHT Grapefruit juice - made with Splenda
juice of 1/2 lime

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Park Pictures

We had a blast at the park with John, Paula and Autumn.  It's Martin Dies, Jr. State park, between Jasper and Woodville, and it's really beautiful.  

We went fishing (Gabe and Paula rode their bikes to the fishing pier.  Brave girl, Paula!) and hiking.  We saw alligators in the water and some beautiful birds.  (water fowl is the correct term, I believe.)  The only thing I hooked fishing was my head.  Indeed, casting proves to be trickier than one would think.  So far I have not developed the brain fever that I was sure would occur from the  bacteria-laden, lake water coated, fish-hook that I speared in the back of my scalp.  I guess Marshall and John were right when they said "Nah" in response to my question "should I put some antibacterial ointment on this?"  hmmmm.

On Sunday we went to the Snake Feeding at the Nature Center, and Gabe went to "snake school."  The Ranger there taught the kids all about the snake and how he eats.  Note the look on Gabe's face when that snake grabbed the mouse.  Whoa!  Something you don't see every day in Richardson!  

We did see about 4-5 in the water.  Crazy, though VERY interesting.  Luckily the park has spent a lot of time and energy figuring out how to keep them uninterested in humans.  There are leash signs all over the park - meaning you MUST keep your dogs on a leash at all times.  Apparently an alligator's favorite snack is dog.  Therefore, if a dog gets in the water the scent will attract the alligators.  Not a desirable swimming companion in the swimming hole!

We are looking forward to going back in August and spending some time in the mini-cabin.  It will take me that long to pack...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On our way home now from camping, one night early. It is 8:40pm and we are an hour into our 4.5 hour trip home. Marshall has already gotten a speeding ticket for blowing though a small-town arbitrary 55mph zone where there was neither stoplight nor another car to be seen. Except, ironically, the police cruiser parked on the other side of that hill, waiting to pounce like a sadistic panther. The reason we've embarked on this self-punishing nighttime journey after a full day in the sun is this: last night Gabe told Gilly a story about bears in the state park. And sleep was over before it began. In his defense, he was just being sweet and telling her a bedtime story, as she'd asked. Unfortunately he is good at suspense. One day this will be all over and we will not have sweet little kids who will sleep together on an air mattress, their little bodies barely making a depression. So to see their little heads together on adjacent pillows, their little sibling selves whispering to each other in the dark...Almost makes up for 4 hours of sleep. Next time I will tell the story.