Monday, September 26, 2016

Pete the Cat Groovy Button Game (review)

Still looking for some board game ideas? Check out the Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons Game by Briarpatch (University Games). The game is fairly quick, so if you need a game that takes little time, this is a good choice. Likewise, if your kids prefer to play more than one game in a row, this is a great option to not take up too much time!


Setting the game up is super easy, and it also includes my new favourite feature: an in-board spinner! (Check out my Kids onStage review to read why!) The down side is that you do risk the child(ren) leaning on the board to reach the spinner when they first start playing, and that will knock your pieces over. Once they get used to not pushing or leaning on the board with all their weight, it works quite well!


The buttons all go in a pile to the side of the board, and each player gets a button jar. All the pieces are cardboard (spinner arrow and stand for your game piece aside) and can easily be stored in a single sandwich bag.


To play, you select your game (Pete the Cat character) piece and place it in any of the green circles on the board corners. Movement is clockwise around the board (the number of spaces that your spinner lands on), and youngest player goes first. If you land on a green button, you take the number of buttons shown on that spot from the button pile and put them on your button jar. If you land on a red button, you place that number of buttons from your jar onto Pete the Cat in the center of the board. If you land on a blue space, you can switch your button jar with any other player’s button jar (getting all their buttons). The goal is to have the most buttons when the button pile is gone.


You have the option of going through the center part of the board (towards Pete the Cat) from either direction. If you land directly on Pete the Cat, you get all the buttons that are on him (from people landing on red spaces). This encourages planning ahead since they need to decide if it will be worth going that way due to all the red buttons and how many buttons are sitting on Pete the Cat.


When the button pile is gone, any buttons sitting on Pete the Cat are divided evenly amongst the players. When our first game ended, however, Bobble had only a handful of the 40 buttons, so we just gave all of them to him (he still had the least number of buttons). The person with the most buttons wins!


This game encourages counting skills the most, but it also encourages colour recognition (and having to remember what those colours mean in the game). It also encourages basic strategizing in giving the option of moving towards the center of the board or not.

 

My kids loved this game right off the bat because: Pete the Cat. The game play, as I mentioned, was pretty decently paced, so it wouldn’t be frustrating if the kids want to play more than once.Since it’s just counting, it’s not really boring for the older people playing like some children’s games are. If you’re looking for a fun, decent-paced game for a younger child, Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons Game is a good option!


You can find the Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons Game for under $20 on Amazon.com. Don't forget to check out AreYouGame.com to find games for all occasions and all ages!


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent this product for review in exchange for my honest opinion. This did not influence my opinion of the product in any way. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Kids on Stage (game review)

I previously mentioned the Super Why ABC Game, by Briarpatch (University Games), and how educational and fun it is. I am pleased to be able to review some more of their games, as they have offered me some for review! First up: Kids on Stage

I'd like to state, in advance, that my camera could not focus on the card and the action at the same time, so I'm sorry for slightly out-of-focus cards... but they are clear enough to see what the person should be doing!


I was excited to try Kids on Stage before I even opened it because the box said there was no reading required. This meant I had a much better chance to play them successfully with the kids since Bobble can sight read a few things, but Squiggle is still working on her alphabet. I also liked that it was for 2 – 6 players. It’s nice for when the kids have some friends over, or for larger families.


The setup is really easy, and you can start playing pretty much immediately after you put your piece on the board and set up the spinner. The spinner, by the way, is attached to the board. I cannot tell you how nice this is. Aside from not having to worry about it getting left out of the box and then stepped on (and broken), or a kid being angry and throwing it (or hoarding it), it’s always there when you want to play. I love the spinner being part of the board!


As far as actual game play, the rules are very easy to understand. You spin, you move that number, and you draw a card with the colour that matches the space you are on. Red cards are action cards, green cards are object cards, and blue cards are animal cards. Some of the cards can be challenging for things the children haven’t been exposed to. One example would be sewing. My kids weren’t sure what to do for that one. Others were difficult for them to not give away because they know many of the American Sign Language (ASL) signs for animals, objects, or actions on the cards.


You guess until you get it right. If they are having trouble guessing what you are acting out, you can make noises to help give it away. Fake snoring made the red “sleeping” card a bit too obvious, though! There is no counting who got however many cards right, you just play until you all get to the end. Quite simple, and takes away the frustration of not winning for the kids.


I honestly wasn’t sure how well Squiggle, having just turned three, would grasp the concept of acting something out without saying what it was. I was pleasantly surprised that she understood quickly, I just reminded her at every turn to “be/do this without saying it”. The only time this didn’t work was when she was sleepy. Then she just threw herself against the couch, giggling, and saying what she should act out. So, sleepy times aside, it worked really well.


Bobble, who is now 5 ½, really loved it. I was actually surprised at how much better Squiggle was at acting the things out, and how quickly she guessed things correctly compared to Bobble. However, Bobble has always been a bit slower on pretend play. I think this will be really good to encourage him to use his imagination, and that’s a great thing.

 

I liked that the spinner went all the way up to 8, as that could make the game go really quickly (which is sometimes a welcome relief, am I right?!). The one thing I didn’t like was that, should the game be a moderately-paced game, you might go through all the cards for a certain colour and then they would be too easy because the kids remember what did and didn’t work for acting that one out. That also makes it less fun to play twice in a row.


I’d love to see more cards available for this game, or even blank cards that were added with it so you can create your own. I think 10 more cards of each colour could really make a big difference.
I highly recommend this game for anyone looking for a present, or simply for a fun new addition to their game shelf. It encourages creative thinking, requires action, doesn’t require reading (though the word/words are on the card), helps with counting to 8, and colour recognition. 

You can purchase Kids on Stage for around $20, so head on over to Amazon.com or AreYouGame.com to check out this game (and many others)!



Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was given the game in exchange for an honest review. This did not sway my opinion of the product at all. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Sorry about that!

Sorry for the disappearance, everyone! Many of you know I'm in grad school, and now I'm in the last couple of months. Basically, I'm really, really busy working on my master's thesis.

Never fear, though! While I don't have a tremendous amount of stuff lined up to be posted twice weekly like I had been (until my accidental disappearance), I do have a handful of game reviews coming in the near future.

If you're looking for gift ideas, you'll want to be sure to keep an eye out in the next few weeks!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Re-homing the Roo

It took a while for our rooster to get accepted by our established flock, and once he did, he kept to his own. After a while he started acting like a cockerel and mounting our girls... and crowing again. He stopped crowing after he was introduced to the flock, but once he took his place as the chicken in charge, he crowed. A lot.

Finally accepted, he would roost next to (or in between) the girls. Here he is sleeping on the far right.

Sadly, we have had to rehome our rooster. I made certain to check with each of our immediate neighbors, personally, to see if his crowing was disturbing anyone. I understand that we all have to share this space, and I don't want to be that neighbor. You know, the one that always annoys the others? Yeah, I don't want to be that person.

Every single one of the neighbors assured me it wasn't bothering them, but I told them if he ever started to bother them, please let me know and I will get rid of him right away.



Last week we had a surprise visit early in the morning. It was a police officer. Someone had called to complain about the rooster crowing, so they had to come out to let us know. Same sort of protocol as if someone complained about a dog constantly barking or something.



The whole interaction (which was pleasant, mind you. The officer was very kind.) saddened me. I wondered why someone just wouldn't tell me in person. I can only assume it wasn't one of my immediate neighbors that complained, as I know for a fact that some of them enjoyed hearing the crowing because it made them feel like they were in the country!



Regardless, one complaint is plenty when it's a situation we cannot control. I've heard of those collars you place on a rooster to prevent them from crowing, but I've also read too many instances where the rooster died after they placed it. (Yes, it specifically states how to put them on, but if the rooster can still crow they consider it too loose... and one of the reviewers tightened it a hair tighter and the rooster seemed to be okay but simply wasn't getting enough oxygen after that.)

I couldn't do that to my rooster, so I contacted the person that took the chicks (the other half of my younger chicks) and asked if they were interested in a rooster. For free, of course. I wanted him to go to a good home. They accepted, and quickly picked him up. I have been promised pictures, which makes me feel better. He wasn't cuddly after he started his cockerel duties, so it's not like I lost a chicken I could hold. Still, he was a handsome fellow and I will miss him.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, August 15, 2016

No-poo journey

Early in the year 2014, I stopped using shampoo. I was fortunate in not having work at that moment, because I heard that your hair goes through some really oily phase as it adjusts to not being washed as much. I tried a variety of things at first, but thanks to this blog post (which shared actual scientific reasoning as to why baking soda is bad for your hair), I knew to steer clear of the most commonly discussed method of going “no-poo” which would be a baking soda and ACV wash/condition method.

I had done a lot of reading leading up to my decision, and got many ideas for things to try. First up was just water. Literally just water. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I knew that around week 4 was supposed to be the greasiest your hair looks with any no-poo transition, so I decided at the start I wouldn’t judge until at least week 7.

Week 7 and my hair just wasn’t feelin’ it. My hair is very thick, and it is naturally a bit oily. It just looked bad with plain water. Thankfully, with no job at that point, I didn’t have to worry about professional appearances, and would just throw a bandana on over my hair when I had to step out, hoping it would pass the greasy phase.

June 2014 (nothing)

I decided to revisit the post linked above and tried out the rye flour method of shampoo. I just mixed in a bit of rye flour with water until it was a paste, used that to rub into my scalp, and rinsed. I used ACV/water for conditioner.

May 2015 (Rye flour)

The above worked really well, and I continued doing that for the last year and a half (if not a bit longer). It was especially nice when I would cut my hair short, but I recently started using shampoo again, for simplicity’s sake.

June 2016 (Rye flour)
I know it sounds like not much work to pour a bit of rye flour into a bowl and mix with a bit of shower water. It really wasn’t. I stirred it with my finger. It took basically no time. The hard part was rinsing it out of my hair. If I had thin hair, I think it would be a totally different ending to the story, honestly. Rye flour has little pieces of the shell (husk) in the flour. It is great as an exfoliator for the scalp, but isn’t a friend to thick hair. I found that if I didn’t take the time to use the highest pressure and carefully blast every part of my hair, the tiny little pieces of husk stuck to strands of hair. This looked bad. Not just like a weird piece of fuzzy in someone’s hair, weird… but it looked like a piece of dandruff, or worse, a louse egg.

If I switched to the tub faucet and rinsed under there, it was easier to get it all out, but it just was such a water waste. That, and it hurt my neck to do that. It was more of an inconvenience, and my hair was longer by this point. Thick, long, heavy hair… and having to do that.

I truly believe that if I had very fine, straight hair, this would be a non-issue. Sadly, my hair is not only very thick, but naturally wavy (not curly). I loved paying only a few dollars a year for rye flour and having it last so long, but now I’m back to shampoo. I’m actually really sad about it, as I really wanted to never go back. My hair already feels less healthy, but I’m trying out more natural shampoos and hoping to find the perfect one for me. It will probably be a lot of trial and error until I find one I like, and it isn’t going to be as cheap as the rye flour (nothing would!).

If you’re looking to go no-poo and have thin/straight hair (or just short hair), I highly recommend trying the rye flour option. Otherwise, I’m interested in hearing suggestions for other no-poo alternatives (or good, natural shampoos)!


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from your own.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Adventures with Chicks (pt. 9)

Instead of waiting a whole week before letting them out with the girls, I decided to only wait 5 days based on the behaviour of the chicks and the established flock. There didn't seem to be any sort of animosity in the group, so I let them out after spreading out a whole box full of produce goodies for them. I made sure to scatter across the whole run so everyone could snack without being forced near the other chickens, then I put the chicks in.


There were squabbles, but nothing constant. Most of the time the hens were just wanting to eat. Sometimes even eating near the chicks. Occasionally a charge at the chicks, but not a full-on attack.



There have been a few times when the hens attacked a chick, pulling a feather out here or there, but that was it. They didn't carry on, it was always a quick squabble. This is quite the opposite of when we introduced our roo to them, as they would corner him and just pick on him constantly until I intervened. This is just attempts to establish pecking order.


I can't tell you how much of a relief it was to see them react this way! The new girls stick to their little group, but the rooster is the one that was nice to them straight away. He would even break up a pecking-order squabble from time to time.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cleaning Trickery

I recently realized that Bobble could do a lot more than I was having him do around the house. I remember I used to let him just match socks for me with laundry, but the other day I saw him actually folding laundry and doing it well. If I asked him to do some laundry, however, he wasn't interested.



Same with anything else. I likes to help clean, but only when he wants to. If he's asked, no dice. Having "chores" or "clean up" on a schedule didn't change this, despite him always wanting to do what was on the schedule any other time.

This past weekend, however, I finally found a way that works (at least for him)!

He likes to watch the show "UmiZoomi", and they always have missions. He also likes to play video games where they have specific challenges or missions to complete for him to move on in the game. I put this knowledge to the best use I could, and hand wrote a note for him to find in the morning. (He cannot read 100% on his own, but he can pick out the majority of the words these days.)

It read something along the lines of:

Bobble, 

Here are your missions for Sunday morning:
1) Pick up living room
2) Vacuum living room
3) Put away YOUR laundry

Good luck!

Love, 
Mom

The list actually had 7 items on it, but all were tiny (the living room was mostly picked up already), easy to do (one was literally telling me a different room was ready for me to vacuum it), and worded simply so he felt he could read it himself and would actually try.






He took to the "missions" swimmingly, and took great delight in crossing the items off as he completed them. I'm going to start putting "missions" on the fridge on a dry erase board and see if I still have luck getting him to cooperate!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.