Playing around with Wonder Forge

One of the benefits (to me) of Jenny having a job is that she has no time. (Having a job is tough, yo.) Therefore when Wonder Forge reached out to see if she would do her annual game review, she passed the honors on to me, which is awesome since they have several new Star Wars games out and I have several Star Wars fans at my house!

The first one we checked out was Galaxy Hunt. Sam was pretty pumped.


This game requires each player to remove a certain piece from the board without causing the spring-loaded bar to move. It’s very easy to play, and requires problem-solving as well as some basic math skills, as each piece is worth positive or negative points.

We also played Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike.

star wars destroyer strike

Here’s the description:
Strategy and suspense collide in the exciting Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike Game. The Star Destroyer Finalizer is out to eliminate the Resistance. Advance your heroes to safety before the starship of the First Order has you in its line of fire. Evade surprise blasts that can happen when you least expect it, and outwit your opponents by bouncing the “laser” blasts off the deflector shield towards them. It’s fast-moving galactic fun for the whole family.

This was also a lot of fun, and Sam loved the lights and sounds. It requires some strategy, which makes it fun for the adults as well as kids. One thing that is a little different is that it’s set up on a track rather than a board. Pretty cool!

Confession time – the thing I liked MOST about these two games is that while they were Star Wars themed, those of us who are a little less, un, well-versed in the Rebel Alliance could play along without any trouble. That’s great for me, because if Star Wars trivia is involved, I can’t hold a candle to Sam or Andy.

Which brings me to…

Star Wars Pictopia

star wars pictopia

Pictopia has been on my “to buy” list for a while now. I have heard nothing but good things about it. The Star Wars version didn’t disappoint! It contains more than 1,000 questions about the planets, ships, villains and heroes, and you can wager different amounts depending on your confidence in your knowledge. (Needless to say, I took the conservative route.) This game is unique in that it combines teamwork with individual play, which puts an interesting twist on it. We liked the game so much that we ordered the Disney version for Kate for Christmas!

Wonder Forge has everything you need to make Christmas break fun! In addition to the Star Wars games, they’ve got a Peanuts Snoopy Flying Ace game, The Good Dinosaur Roarin’ River game, and more. Stay up-to-date on all of their offerings by liking their Facebook page!

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A Little Help

I often say that childcare has been the numero uno most stressful part of my parenting experience. (Which, when I think about it, makes me very, very lucky.) We are closing in on the end of that portion of our lives, as Kate can stay home by herself for short periods of time, but there are still occasions on which we need a little help.

Last week I had the opportunity to check out an app designed to make childcare arrangements a little easier, and I wanted to tell you about it. The app is called Little Helper, and it enables you to create a community of people you know and trust, and to ask (and give!) help when you need it. So, if you’re in a bind, you can send a message to your network that says “Can anyone keep my kids on Friday while I go to the dentist?” Those in your network will see it and can decide (without pressure) whether or not they can help. It takes a little of the stress off of both sides of that equation.

It’s easy. You create an event (which takes less than 30 seconds)…

little helper app

Notify your helpers…

little helper app2

And find and give help.

little helper app3

A key element to Little Helper is trust. It’s a closed environment where you know exactly who can see your request, whereas you might be a little hesitant to say “Hey, can anyone watch my kids while I leave my house empty and available for break ins next weekend?” That’s a bit dramatic, but I think you know what I mean! Even though I have privacy settings on my Facebook page, I don’t have a close relationship with each person I am friends with to say the least, and I don’t necessarily know that every single one of them is super trustworthy. Little Helper is safer in that capacity.

Some other ways Little Helper can be used:
– Co-parenting situations
– Pet care, lawn care, etc.
– Barter/credit system to trade time – people who have time rather than money and are willing to give it as payment, and vice versa.
– GPS-connected car pooling
– See more ideas on their blog

Little Helper is in the testing phase right now, which means there is currently not a fee for using it. If you check it out, leave a comment here and let me know what you think about it – I am interested to hear if it could be a solution for you!

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I recently had the opportunity to drive a Kia Sorento SXL 2.0T with all-wheel drive, and I loved it! It was super fun to have a brand new (incredibly clean) car delivered to my driveway… even though it was only for a week, I felt very fancy! It’s a contender for 2016 North American Car & Truck of the Year for a week, and I can see why.

The Sorento has a very technologically-advanced feel to me. Andy and I kept talking about just how much information is available on the dashboard.


As you can see, it’s got a great display for a GPS (why yes, I do drive to the Ritz Carlton in Lake Tahoe frequently. I told you I was fancy. Okay fine, I stole that photo) and it’s set up for Pandora, among other things. It was really easy for me to pair my phone with the bluetooth system. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but considering I haven’t gotten around to digging out the manual to figure out how to do it in my own van, I was excited about that. I could even use Siri through the voice recognition in the car.

And get this – it shows the speed limit of wherever you happen to be. We are living in the future, I’m telling you.

However. I haven’t told you the best part yet.

The camera.

Check this out.


There are 360 cameras that show the entire area surrounding the car when you’re trying to park. So not only can you see what’s behind you, you can see what’s all around. Which means you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope you’re not going to sideswipe the car next to you. (What? It can’t be just me.) You can see the lines of the parking space. It is amazing.

To be quite honest, that camera/display system could be set up in a tin can and I would still love it, but the rest of the car was great too! My kids loved riding in it – they really, really wanted to keep it, actually. Andy and I enjoyed driving it as well. It drives kind of in between a car and a minivan. It is low enough that it was easy for my 90 year old grandma to get in and out of, but it is high enough to not break your back putting babies in a car seat. I’m a little past that stage of life, but I remember it well!


Learn more about the Kia Sorento here, and follow Kia on Twitter!

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It’s National Down Syndrome Awareness Month & Pampers is Making it #BetterForBaby


If you’ve been following this blog for any decent amount of time, you know that people with special needs, especially Down syndrome, are very precious to me. Since October is Down syndrome awareness month, I want to once again tell you about my friend Joy Marie Minor! Joy turned 3 in April and since she was an infant, it’s been my privilege to walk on her Buddy Walk for Down syndrome team and raise $$ for our local chapter of the Down Syndrome Association. ALL of the funds raised stay here in our area to help our friends with Down syndrome get the therapies and services they need to fully rock out their extra chromosome. Since I’ve had two out of my three kiddos in various therapies, I know how expensive it is. The money we raise helps out with these expenses and more! Joy works her butt off in therapy 5 days a week and has recently started taking steps on her own. She is a rock star!

This year because of my affiliation with the Pampers Baby Board, I was able to give a grant of $2500 to an organization I felt made life #BetterForBaby, which is a main aim of the Pampers brand – making life better for baby! Since the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association helps babies with Down syndrome and their families as they grow, I knew I’d be blessing the Buddy Walk with my grant! I spread the grant money out over three Buddy Walk teams that are special to me including Joy’s Team Peace, Love, and Joy which my family and I walk on. Thanks in part to Pampers we were a top fundraising team! Whoop whoop!


Joy has so many people who love and support her!

Joy has so many people who love and support her!

People with Down syndrome may have an extra chromosome, but they are just like you and me. They are people with dreams, struggles, highs, lows, talents, abilities, goals, wins, and losses. The reality is they need some extra help through therapy but SO many others do too – like I said, two out of three of my kids have. I appreciate Pampers #BetterForBaby helping to truly make life better for these amazing people who live, love, learn, and work in our community. It’s an honor and a blessing to be associated with such a giving brand who sees the value in every baby!

Thanks Pampers, for making life #BetterforBaby and for helping me to bless the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association and the three Buddy Walk teams that are special to me: Team Peace, Love, & Joy, Emmaline Curley’s Crew, and the Carsonettes!

Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month! To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out this link! And check out this awesome Pampers #BetterForBaby video that will make you cry!

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“He Named Me Malala” in Theaters October 9

What do you have going on this weekend? For us, it’s one of those rare times that we don’t have too much on the calendar. Soccer game tomorrow morning and dinner out with friends tomorrow night… but other than that, we’re not scheduled.

If you have some time this weekend as well, I have a good idea for how you can spend it – go to the movies!

Specifically, go see “He Named Me Malala.”

Doesn’t that look amazing?!?

It’s the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakastani teenager who was shot in the head for speaking out about the radical idea that girls should be able to go to school. As I’m sure you know, Malala recovered from her life-threatening injuries and has gone on to have an incredible impact on the world and was even granted the Nobel Peace Prize.

I read her book several years ago, and I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call recently where she answered questions posed to her by mom bloggers. I was impressed with her kindness and humor, and the amazing way she articulates her vision. Did you know that providing 12 years of high-quality education for every child in the world would cost what we collectively spend on military power in just eight days?

Let that sink in for just a minute.

I really want to take Kate to see the movie! It’s a complex topic, though, and there’s a parents guide available here that will help facilitate discussion with our kids.

“He Named Me Malala” is showing in a couple theaters near us (Dayton peeps – it’s at the Fairfield Commons theater, as well as at The Greene), and I’m sure it’s showing near you as well. Check here to find out!

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Win Tickets to Marvel Universe LIVE in Cincinnati!

Jenny and I both have some serious Marvel fans in our house! Take, for instance, Halloween 2014, when Ultron, Iron Man, and Starlord were all at my house:

Joshua was Falcon from the Captain America movie and Jonah was a reluctant Ironman.

Halloween Sam

Needless to say we are SUPER PUMPED about Marvel Universe LIVE coming to Cincinnati!

Marvel fans, assemble! Marvel Universe LIVE! is taking the live entertainment experience to a whole new level, with a mind-blowing show unlike anything you’ve seen before. Watch your favorite Marvel Super Heroes including Spider-Man and the Avengers (Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk and more) and threatening villains come to life in an action-packed arena extravaganza, coming to the Cincinnati. You’ll definitely feel the energy with cutting-edge special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, motorcycles and more. It’s being hailed as the most technically advanced live show ever. Join Marvel fans of all ages for this once-in-a-lifetime, monumental performance. The fate of the universe depends on it!

Stay up to date on the show by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter!

Marvel Universe LIVE will have five shows in Cincinnati between December 17 and December 20. Kids’ tickets start at $20 and can be purchased through TicketMaster.

We are giving away a four-pack of tickets for the show on December 17 at 7:00 PM! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us your child’s favorite Marvel character. The contest will close on November 1, 2015 and a winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

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Disney on Ice is coming to Dayton

Treasure Cove-1000x200

Disney on Ice is coming back to Dayton, and we want you to join us there!

Jenny and I are excited to be taking our kids to the show once again. This year’s show is called Treasure Trove, and it features Tiana, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Flynn, Jasmine, Ariel, Peter Pan, Simba, Alice and more! To learn more about the show, visit their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.



Disney on Ice will be in Dayton at the Nutter Center starting Wednesday, October 21 through Sunday, October 25We are giving away a four pack of tickets for the opening night show! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us your child’s favorite Disney character. We’ll choose a winner randomly on 10/10/15. Good luck!

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Pay Attention.

So here it is, the last day of September, which is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Before everything turns pink tomorrow (and I do mean everything – I saw pink tortillas the other day), I feel the need to make my annual soapbox speech.


Did that work?

Okay, let me be a little more specific.

ovarian cancer signs and symptoms

Here’s more.

ovarian cancer infographic

I have an entirely different perspective on this than I did a year ago, when I wasn’t paying attention, conveniently ignoring “persistent pressure or pain in the pelvic region” I had waxed poetic about for years. Little did I know that my annual screening (which I didn’t get around to until it was nearly three months overdue) would show a cyst in my ovary and an elevation in my CA-125 level, results that led to a laparoscopic surgery the following day and, eventually, a complete hysterectomy.

The good news is, as you know, I didn’t have cancer, but it scared the living daylights out of me.

The other good news is that for the 200,000 women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, they are making progress.

ovarian cancer research progress

So here are the takeaways.

Know your risk.


If you are at an increased risk, take precautionary methods and have an ultrasound and a CA-125 screening each year, and do what you can to decrease the risk.


For more information, check out the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

And for heaven’s sake, pay attention.

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Please Stop Smoking From the Pumpkin Spice Flavored Crack Pipe

You guys. It’s FALL. Like, officially, according to the calendar, not just according to white girls who loves scarves, boots, and OHMAHGAH PUMPKINSPAHHHHCCCEE!

Or so I've heard.

Or so I’ve heard.

Little known fact about me: FALL is my favorite season. I love the weather, I love the boots, and scarves, and dangit if ORANGE isn’t my favorite color, I don’t know what is!! I freaking love ORANGE. I even like Pumpkins. I mean, they’re adorable fruits you can eat or decorate. Except I don’t actually like to eat them. But their seeds? I do love to eat some  baked-up pumpkin seeds. What I don’t like? PUMPKIN SPICE. Pumpkin spice is the orange-colored, clove-scented, RUINATION OF FALL! I know you are all gasping in one accord and your heads are collectively SPINNING with rage on your scarf-clad necks, but please take a breath and maybe a huff of your pumpkin-scented Yankee candle and hear me out. I will explain. Once upon a time a few falls ago, I made the mistake of innocently posting on Facebook how much I hated “Pumpkin Spice” and had therefore never been a fan of pumpkin pie or that disgrace that’s come to coffee, the PSL. I say “mistake” because this resulted in an immediate torrent of pumpkin spice-related pictures, memes, comments, and tags on my Facebook timeline. This pumpkin torment has been going on for at least three years, I’d say.  It’s KIND OF annoying. BUT!! But…today I’m here to say, the joke is on the jokers. By tormenting me with all things pumpkin spice on my timeline, you’ve given enough ammo to prove that this country has lost it’s damn mind over all things pumpkin spice to a REEDONKULOUS degree. Allow me to demonstrate:

frosted mini wheats

Ummmm….no. fall frolic YOUR CAT NOW HATES YOU EVEN MORE THAN IT ALREADY DID! Why would your force it to defecate in pumpkin spice-flavored litter? pumpkin spice chips Way to go, Nestle, I just THREW UP IN MY MOUTH. I pity the kids that bite into a cookie made with these and think they are chocolate chip. Have fun paying for the years of therapy caused by THAT violation of trust, parents. Things in the United State of Pumpkin Spice have gotten SO very out of hand that my friend and loyal reader Allison, grocery shopping in sunny California, was compelled to make a lovely photo collage of the pumpkin parade at her local grocery. This is just the stuff on the END CAPS! God knows what other horrors are lurking in the aisles…

pumpkin spice collage

Seriously…Oreos? Milanos? Hostess cakes? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO THESE DELICACIES??? It’s like junk food treason.

That’s right America, you have gone so COO-COO for Pumpkin Spice, I think that stuff must be laced with crack, or more likely, a mind-controlling drug invented by the purveyors of Pumpkin Spice, the Pumpkin Spice Kingpins if you will, to make you crave MOAR AND MOAR AND MOAR PUMPKIN SPICE. I know this is a joke, but I have no doubt that if it were real, people would actually be lining up at the corner drugstore to purchase this so they could squirt pumpkin spice up their hoo-has. (This is another gem from my FB timeline that a “friend” shared with me.)

pS enema

And, in case you’re period just isn’t unpleasant enough ALREADY, have a pumpkin spice tampax! The warm scents of cinnamon and pumpkin will ALMOST make you forget your constant state of hormone-induced homicidal rage.

PS tampons

This is FUNNY BECAUSE THIS IS HOW CRAZY YOU PEOPLE ARE! You guys. Put down your Pumpkin Spice Latte, pick up a Salted Caramel Mocha, (because we ALL KNOW that CARAMEL is the REAL FLAVOR OF FALL), and umm…get a life. (And if you can’t control yourselves, please hide in secret with your pumpkin spice Oreos and do not sully my timeline with that blasphemy! )

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I can breathe but I have to drink coffee through a straw so I’m not sure it’s worth it.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged about anything the ol’ braces. With having my insides removed and everything, that’s gotten lost in the fray.

But – good news – I am getting my braces off in exactly 20 days! Can you believe that? It seems like only yesterday my doctor told me my tongue was too big for my mouth.

The past year and a half has been, ahem, an interesting journey. First I had to wear this hideous retainer-like contraption for several months, then I became a metal mouth, but now there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

And you know what? This is totally crazy, but I can actually breathe better.

I mean, I had no idea I couldn’t breathe well before, seeing as how I have always had my tongue. But now that my mouth is big enough to fit that monstrosity, I understand how the human respiratory system is supposed to work. I don’t get out of breath at all the way I used to, and due to the aforementioned inside-removal, my cardiovascular activity level has been fairly limited since May… so it’s not that I’m in better shape. It’s that my airway is no longer blocked. I know how weird that must sound, because it feels weird. Every time I climb up stairs, I am surprised by how not winded I am.


So now that I am at the end of my braces journey (with the exception of the tooth-positioner and retainer I’ll have to wear at night for, like, ever), guess who is starting hers?


Yep. Kate is at the beginning of the same treatment plan I’ve undergone. She is currently wearing the retainer-like contraption, and let me tell you, she is whining way less than I did handling it like a champ. And just a few days after my braces are removed, she’ll get hers on. I was really hoping we could be twins for a while, but no such luck. She was really hoping for that too, trust me.

The orthodontist is loving us, though. I hope he enjoys the luxurious European vacation he can take courtesy of the Berry family. Seriously, my grandparents paid less for their first house than we have paid this dude in the past 18 months. Which brings me back to the title of this post… and now that I think about it, I’m not so sure not being able to breathe was a bad thing!

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