Saturday, June 30, 2018

Potter'ohns - Harry Potter Macarons by [ma-ka-rohn]

 An advertisement popped up on my Instagram. This is very dangerous for me, because I almost bought my husband the gauntlet ring and I bought my coworker a custom Lego Sports guy. For shame. Then... as if I didn't need any more temptation during this insane Keto-hating moment in my life... an advertisement for Potter'ohns drew me to order the sugar.

They arrived at my door nicely packaged and, thank goodness, safe after the beating the post office gave the package (even though it said fragile!).

I immediately opened up the box and started my picture taking. (It was preserved with wonderful ice packs and a cooling bubble wrap envelope.)

There is one cookie for each house and they each have a unique flavor. I ordered one cookie of each house for each of us.

Hufflepuff - Chocolate Frog
My husband and I needed some chocolate and this delivered just that. Very tasty.
Fearless about chocolate!

Ravenclaw - Fizzing Whizbees
At first we weren't sure what was up, but then the fizzing took over. We wished there had been more fizzing and a little more flavor.
I tried to look quizzical and intellectual. haha!

Slytherine - Polyjuice Potion
This was definitely our favorite. A citrus filling really hit the spot on this summer day. I know it was supposed to be sour apple, but whatever it was...Deviously delicious! Warning: Did not transform.
Didn't know what I'd turn into!

Gryffindor - Butter Beer
Saving our most anticipated for last. I mean, hello... who isn't addicted to all things Butter Beer if you are into Harry Potter? It was a nice butterscotch flavor that really made the whole package a complete Harry Potter experience.

Cheers to inspired foods that make our days just a little brighter.

Friday, June 29, 2018

5 Fandom Fridays - 5 Fictional Characters I Most Identify With

(Republished from 5/29/2015)

5 Fictional Characters I Most Identify With

1. Frodo Baggins
I identify with the burden he bears. Sometimes it feels like too much and you just want to give up, but then you have a trusty Sam to keep pushing you forward. Plus there's that love of adventure and wanting to go on a journey. You hear all these stories and you want to live it, too.

2. Wesley Crusher
Just like Wesley is overlooked and ignored or treated like he's in the way, I, too, feel that way and identify with it. I'm not an idiot and even though I'm "new" in my positions in life, I am still incredibly good at what I do, but sometimes you're overlooked because of being weird, irritating, or whatever. He's a kid. . . he's awkward! I'm just overall socially awkward and have a childish streak. I feel for him, because I sympathize with him.

3. Leslie Knope
I identify with her need to constantly keep doing good, despite the people you're doing it for don't always care and you feel like you're constantly working against things. I also totes associate with her geekiness, despite what other think of it. GIRL POWER!

4. Codex
This was a character that really put into perspective to me who I was and what I needed to learn about myself. I didn't have all the guild issues or romantic problems and I'm definitely not as hot as Felicia Day, but her geek struggle and her girl struggle and her emotional issues trouble were all understandable.  Use this link to see my favorite vlog scene.

5. Professor Keating
So many Literacy teachers want to be able to say they identify with Professor Keating. I mean, seriously. . . he's amazing. What I find hilarious is that I actually teach like him. I use humor as my tool to inspire and motivate. When I watched the clip, I laughed because that's what I do. To fewer laughs, though, because middle schoolers are a bit tougher to entertain than high schoolers, because they are way more reluctant and insecure. It's all good, though. I at least work in a community where free-thinking is encouraged and not hindered.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Junior Gamers Club (Trailblazers Day 3)

What I love the most about the Trailblazers are that the are always here on time and clearly appreciate what the club is offering. I mean,  I literally think they would stay all day if they could. Sadly, when we leave, the games go with us. As I've said before, most of these kids are my kids from game club and spent ALL night at the lock-ins playing as many games as possible.

I had to leave the most of the morning, due to issues going on with my daughter. The always common concern with little kids is that they aren't sleeping enough and, sure enough, she was lacking sleep on a level unknown for her in a long time. I was able to return around 1:30 and they were heavily entrenched in Arabian Nights.

They played quite a few fun games, though, while I was gone and that I was devastated not to be able to be a part of.

They started out this this and it sounds like it took them a long time.

This finished off the day and the kids were so very much into it. It was kind of RPG, but still a board game with goals. I laughed as I listened to them place and have to deal with the different encounters. Already they were discussing their individual quests and earning destiny. This was definitely the game that I missed being able to be a part of and play.

There were only a few minutes left, so we pulled out this game from Rather Dashing Games. Once we played through a round, the kids were off to the races. Shockingly, one of them got their three Xs pretty quick. I have come to the conclusion that they were just killing time and I'm going to break this out another time. Their poor burned-out minds were pretty toasted by the end of it all, just because of the heavy games they'd played. 

Overall, another great showing from the Trailblazers. It doesn't seem like they played alot of games, but they played more in-depth games. This is the age those badges are really made for. haha!

On a side note, I have some sad news and I really don't know how to handle it. I've said again and again about how it's been hard to find support for our summer club because we are hosting it at a store. It dawned on me that so many schools are having work done on them during the summer, whether construction or just straight-up cleaning that it'd be really hard to get in to have a consistent club that didn't interrupt or have problems with places that are hosting summer school. The same thing with the Library. They have all sorts of programs bringing young people into the library, so how am I supposed to get into those places? Once again, why are we being "punished" for having it in the absolute perfect location?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #20

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Junior Gamers Club (Explorers Day 3)

What is Junior Gamers Club?

I contacted a few places that said they didn't understand why our events weren't showing up on their calendars. We'll see if it changes anything.

We're at the end of our first set of gaming days. We only hosted three in June and there are three in July due to our personal schedules, holidays, etc. Next year I think I might do something week-oriented instead of once-a-week. I'm not sure. I have ideas tooling around for all sorts of things.

Today, we had a similar situation as last time. Kids didn't show up until later and then it wasn't very many kids. An eager young boy came in and played with my daughter. Then someone who knew him from school showed up and they played. When I returned from dropping my daughter off and having to run a quick errand, everyone had left and my husband was just sitting there. Sadly, we closed club early at 2:30PM.

In that time, though, here is what the kids were able to play.

I've played this with my students and family and it's always a hit. If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it.

This one was interesting, because 1) the directions were missing and 2) it's a speed game of two kids at different developmental stages. It went pretty well. You have to play a card that completes the pattern on the other card. I really like the game. I just know my husband hates speed games. The kids, though, really dug it.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I love the Tales & Games series. This is one of my husband's favorites. I think last week he had out the Pied Piper game. This game utilizes a bit of bluffing to get what you need, but it's challenging. You take turns being the ants an the grasshopper. The kids usually like it once they get the hang of it. I was told they played it twice. (I wasn't there to see it played.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

5 Fandom Friday - Smart Phone Apps I Cannot Live Without

Awe man! Apps were something I could live without, but recently I've found a few that I absolutely adore and use on a daily basis.

Smart Phone Apps I Cannot Live Without

1. Daylio
I love this app, because I'm able to track my moods and assign specific labels to what is causing them. It helps me to remove myself from stressful situations and really think about what is triggering me to feel horrible, depressed, or just completely nonfunctional and what kinds of things make me feel good and able to handle things.  I really recommend it if you're wanting to help remove stress from your life or are looking for ways to tap into the things that bring happiness to you. I've been using it for over a month and it's been amazing!

2. FitBit Tracker/MyFitnessPal
If you have a FitBit, I'd assume you use the app, but I shouldn't assume that about people. I love using it, because I can track other things on-the-go and I can compete in step competitions with friends. It ties into MyFitnessPal, so I kind of use the two simultaneously in order to track my health stats for eating, macros, and physical fitness. Good times!

3. Zombies, Run!/CastBox
Another one that goes with the other for me, at least. I've been trying to catch-up on Critical Role and I can't really sit and watch YouTube or even just have it going in the house while I work, so I've had to go Podcast. I know it's not the best format for catching-up on Critical Role, but it's the one I have. So I listen to it when I'm working out. While I listen, I run Zombies, Run! It breaks into the podcast, because I can listen to an external app for music or whatever. What I love the most about it is that when you play Zombies, Run! you pick up items for the your township while you're running and it just speaks over my podcast, so while the people on Critical Role are doing their stuff, I'll hear "found a pack of underwear" or "found a book." Sometimes... the finding an item matches up so hilariously with the podcast that I almost cry from laughing so hard. Good stuff that makes my hour and a half workout pretty great!

4. Pokemon GO!
I am embracing this, purely because it has become something my daughter and I do together. In the summer, we poke-hunt together. I get her to go on long walks out in the fresh air and we travel for 3-4 miles around our small town checking in at stops and catching Pokemon. We take turns and sometimes, when I'm out doing my walks without her, I'll make sure the hit-up the pokestops for her so that we can get supplies.  It's a me and her thing, just like playing the CCG and the DS games. My husband always rolls his eyes at us.

5. Instagram
I think I'd just like to point out that I don't go picture-posting-crazy on here, but I find scrolling through brings me more peaceful happiness and connection to things I like than Twitter or Facebook do. There's no political things or people being jerks, etc. It's just people sharing their awesome moments or cool pics of games or my favorite actress posts all her neat traveling adventures. Yeah. Anyways. Cliche, but I've come to really like it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Junior Gamers Club (Trailblazers Day 2)

What is Junior Gamers Club?

I had no reservations for the Trailblazers (ages 10-14) like I had for the Explorers (ages 5-9). These kids are dedicated and, to be fair, four of them are my students or graduated students. I know they've got the love for the game.

I still lamented today the lack of publication our summer activity got. It is a free event in the community. Just because it is held at a local game store, we aren't allowed promotion from any of these community sites or through the school district, etc. I have a whole diatribe, but I'll leave that for another entry. Hopefully as the summer continues on more kids will start to stop in and see what we have to offer. I continue to promote the events on Facebook, through the store's page via photos of the games, etc.

Today was a whole lot of gaming excitement for our 5 brave souls:

Artifacts, Inc. (2014)

My husband as this adorable addiction to archaeological games. I mean, he has Indiana Jones running through his veins. He was super excited to be able to bring in this game. Since the boys had already started Dragon Slayer, he played this with the two girls who arrived after them.

Dragon Slayer (2014)

Oh goodness... here's another plug! See previous entries! Today it was used as a warm-up game for the heavier things to come.

Race for the Galaxy (2007)

A game requested by our hardcore Euro kid and his passion for all things Sci-Fi! Then again... maybe Euro is how we're perceiving him, but maybe he's super into 4X. I'll have to research this further. Anyways.... so of course my husband has zero reason to not bring this game in and he coached the kids through playing. I loved that they got the game out, read through how to set it up, familiarized themselves with the directions while waiting for my husband to assist them. A bit busy for them, but they seemed to enjoy it. I feel like we need to ask the kids to give us some indication of their liking of a game so that we can better plan. Just add it to the list!

Magic Maze (2017)

Magic Maze is a game on display at the shop. I'd been glancing over at it, but hadn't really taken a look. The two girls who attend wandered over and one of our shop ladies (the daughter of one our teachers at my school) taught the girls how to play. Essentially you have to play the game without talking and you can only communicate using the red pawn and the blue cards. You have to get the little colored pawns to their matching weapons and then out of the maze. Certain things happen and there are timers. I think at the flip of the timer they have a chance to talk before touching a pawn that round. Either way, it looked really cool and later in the session one of the girls taught it to my husband. Now THAT made my heart flutter with pride.

The other thing I liked about this was that it demonstrated how the wealth of knowledge the people at the shop have can really help others learn, too. I mean, I knew nothing about this game and they never would have been exposed to such interesting game mechanics if we hadn't been at the shop. The kids get to see what others are playing and even come up with ideas for what they think they want to play next time. Just because it's a store, doesn't mean there's pressure to buy. I mean, heck, you could say our binder full of games that the kids can request to play is selling games, when you think about it. A digression, I know, but still just another great point for why hosting it at the local game shop was better than hosting it at a school.

Cartagena (2000)

Set collecting, escaping pirates, and secret passages.... what could be better? I thought for sure my daughter would get a kick out of this, but like last week... something came over her and she all weird about playing a game. We're starting to think it's playing in public or the "fear" or losing around people. She wasn't even losing, actually. I don't really understand, but I thought for sure she'd enjoy playing this with me. The mechanics are simple and she's good at planning ahead.... ah well... for another day and another crowd. I love it, though.

Red7 (2014)

Another one that was played the previous week, but one of the girls hadn't played it yet. I think it's one that'll make it out of the vault more now.

Dead Man's Draw (2015)

The kids played this last week, but my husband played it with one of the girls who, I guess, hadn't played it. Another game that I think will make it out of the vault more now that some of the new kids understand it and haven't been brainwashed into playing the same old games.

Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! (2013)

Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule is a game that I bought way back in the day. I remember sharing it with my students when we did our first Tabletop Game Unit for Literacy. The girls who used it made a similar game dealing with dress code (they had to do a "human rights" issue). ANYWAYS! It's out of print now, which breaks my heart, but it's such a fun little game. I saw online you can get a print-and-play, but it's just not the same. I shared this with the two girls who come in. In short order, they defeated the game and then the other girl had to leave. It's a simple game, but I really wish I could buy new copies without paying an arm and a leg.

Maximum Throwdown: Overload (2014)

This game came in our AEG Black Box (2014). Maximum Throwdown: Overload  is a standalone expnasion for Maximum Throwdown (2013). You have to toss cards, so the dexterity part is pretty neat. We hadn't really played it with many people, but the kids really liked it and playing it with a larger group is so much more intense! I personally think getting he original would be pretty awesome, too, but we're happy with this little bundle at the moment.

Castles of Burgundy (2011)

For those of you who might have contributed to our GoFundMe, this copy was bought for our graduating 8th grader and we broke it out to play today. What a great way to end our second day with the Trailblazers!


Can't wait for next week! Things are heating up! So much so that I've already been thinking about how to up the badges, since one of my members already has her D12 badge!

This is what I'm thinking:

Bronze Level Gamer = 30 games
Silver Level Gamer = 40 games
Gold Level Gamer = 50 games

After that, well... you're just a really hardcore gamer. I was also thinking of adding a special Explorers or Trailblazers badge... like a completion badge of honor or something. A work in progress I suppose.