by Melanie

Can you fire a tooth fairy?

April 2, 2014 in Playroom by Melanie

I think we need a new tooth fairy.

A tooth fairy’s job requirements are pretty straight forward. Child looses tooth. Child places tooth under pillow. Tooth fairy retrieves tooth while child sleeps and leaves a small gift under the pillow.

Simple, right?

Apparently it’s trickier than I think because my tooth fairy can’t seem to handle it. My kids wake up morning after morning and excitedly sneak their hands under their pillows in search of a fun prize, but every time they retrieve only an old tooth.

Every. Time.

Do you know if there are any unemployed tooth fairies looking for a little extra work? I’m pretty sure I need to find a replacement.


tooth-fairy silhouette

I don’t mean to brag, but I have become quite an expert on coming up with tooth fairy excuses.

“I think she’s just running a little late today, sweetie. Why don’t you try checking under your pillow again? Now please excuse me, I need to run upstairs a few minutes before you do.”

“The tooth fairy doesn’t have as much magic as Santa, so she can’t get to the all the kids in the world in one night.”

“When you lose your tooth so late in the day, the tooth fairy doesn’t have time to put it on her list, so she adds it to the next day’s list.”

My kids always buy it. Every time. So what’s the problem? Well, as the mom, it’s my job to keep things like tooth fairy magic alive. Is it too much to want my 11-year-old to keep believing?

The other day when I was spinning yet another impressive tale excusing our tooth fairy’s shortcomings, my sweet Babs joined in with a few extra embellishments.

“…the good thing about the tooth fairy being late…is she leaves extra money under your pillow! Right, Mom?”

What do you think? Is she on to me?

How is your tooth fairy working out for you?

by Melanie

March Madness: Family Style

March 17, 2014 in Playroom by Melanie

Are you a basketball fan? Truthfully, I never watch a single game unless someone gives us tickets. I would rather do just about anything than watch sports on TV, but I love to go to a game in person.

Steve, on the other hand, is a HUGE sports fan. When we coordinate the family calendar, he makes sure the important games are jotted down so we can plan around them. Which doesn’t always happen… but we try – because I’m an awesome wife.

Every year Steve brings home NCAA tournament brackets for us to fill out, and every year the girls protest louder and louder. “But Daaaadddd, it’s boooorrrriing!!!”

We’re totally awesome parents, so we just laugh and tell them to fill out their bracket. Joy actually cried about it tonight. Real tears. Streaming down her cheeks.

I’m telling you — Awesome. Parents.

So after the torture (who knew choosing a few random names on a piece of paper could be so traumatic???) we got to the fun part.

The prizes.

I don’t think we have ever played for good prizes before, and that’s probably why the girls hate it more and more every year. Why play a game with no incentive to win???

So just in case you need ideas for your own tournament family fun (doesn’t it sound like fun???) here’s our plan in 4 easy steps.

1. First, everyone has to choose their winners. And let me tell you, it’s hilarious to listen to a bunch of kiddos who don’t know or care a bit about college basketball fill out a tournament bracket.

Kid 1: “Villanova? I bet whoever named that team was hungry.”
Mom: “Why?”
Kid 1: “It sounds like vanilla!”
Kid 2: “Yeah, or a villain!”

Villanova was chosen as the champion twice in our family because it sounds delicious. Or sinister.

2. Next, figure out how you will score your brackets. We’re going with a very simple scoring system: 1 point for every victory. It doesn’t matter which round it’s in or if it’s an upset… just choosing the right winner gets you a point. If you choose the final champion, you get a bonus point.

3. Finally, decide what awesomeness the winners will win. We tried a new recipe for dinner that turned out pretty gross, so I think everyone was a bit hungry when we came up with the prizes. You’ll see…

First Four: Most correct picks in the First Four gets 4 regular candy bars.

South: Most correct pics in the South gets a movie date at the theater on the south end of town.

West: Most correct picks in the West gets a shopping trip to the Disney store (because it’s in Anaheim, of course).

East: Most correct picks in the East gets a pizza of their choice (because it’s in New York, and apparently that’s what my hungry kiddos know about New York).

Midwest: Most correct picks in the Midwest gets ribs at Texas Roadhouse. yum! I suppose they could choose something else if they wanted, but why would they? Have you had the ribs at Texas Roadhouse??? The. Best.

Sweet Sixteen: Most picks in the Sweet Sixteen gets a visit to the Sweet Tooth Fairy.

Final Four: Most picks in the Final Four gets a 4-part date: lunch, nickel arcade, ice cream, and then back home for a movie.

Championship Game: Must pick BOTH teams in the championship game to get a 2-layer cake. (When I win that one, I’m getting an ice cream cake. mmmm)

Champion Pick: Choose the champion to get a parade around the neighborhood. Of course, it will just be our family involved in the parade – the single float, the only spectators, and the ones throwing confetti and candy – but if any neighbors happen to be along the parade route, we’ll toss them some candy, too.

Most Points Overall: If you win the whole enchilada, you get to go out for enchiladas and bring home your very own carton of ice cream.

Least Points Overall: If you managed to pick the fewest winners, you get a trip to the dollar store for a single item.

4. Now Steve will watch the games, tell us who the winners are, and someone ends up with bragging rights… and probably a few extra pounds. Let the fun begin!

Is it just us, or do you make your kids play with you, too?

by Melanie

Favorite Family Games

February 21, 2014 in Playroom by Melanie

 Top 5 Favorite Family Games from Forty Eigheten

I love family game night. We LOVE playing games together, and this past Christmas we discovered a few new faves.

Top 5 Favorite Family Games from Forty EighetenTelestrations

My artistic skills are already pretty laughable, so I’m generally not a fan of games that rely on my ability to draw anything recognizable, but this game keeps us cracking up all night. Telestrations is a clever mash-up of Pictionary and the Telephone Game.

Each player starts with a drawing pad and a word to draw. The next person guesses what their picture might be. The third person has to draw what the second person guessed. The fourth person guesses what they drew, and it keeps going like that around the circle until it ends up back to the person who started it all. Did I lose you?

Occasionally the end result is surprisingly spot on, but more often we end up so far off we’re not even on the same planet. Know what I mean? One round started with “the bearded woman” as the clue. Which turned into a gypsy… minecraft… and somehow ended up “tic-tac-toe!”

Little kids and big kids can play together and we all have a hilarious time. If I can have fun with my complete lack of drawing ability, anyone can!

The other night we were playing Telestrations together. The older 2 girls weren’t home, so it was just the 3 younger girls playing with their dad, and I was helping the 5-year-old with the reading and writing. One girl started with the word “camel.” She drew a great camel and her sister guessed it right away. Dad was next and drew an amazingly realistic camel for having only a black marker and a wipe-off pad, complete with pyramids, sand dunes, and palm trees. I guess living in the Middle East for over a year made him pretty familiar with the landscape. He passed it to my little team. Chuck took one look at it, her eyes lit up, and she turned to me and said in her most excited stage-whisper, “A Llama!!!”

Top 5 Favorite Family Games from Forty EighetenQwirkle

I love puzzle games that take more thought than skill – probably because I’m better at thinking through a puzzle than doing just about any skill required in a game.

Qwirkle reminds me a bit of dominoes, but it’s more colorful and more fun. The idea is simple: make rows of 6 blocks either by color or shape. The actual game play involves a little more strategy than that, and there are a few restrictions as you’re creating your rows.

It’s simple enough for the younger kids to play and complex enough for the older kids to really get into. Even my 5-year-old refuses any help and loves to play on her own. Of course, her favorite part is when she knows she has thwarted her dad’s big plans and put her own pieces in the way of his big moves. We may be a little cut throat…

Top 5 Favorite Family Games from Forty EighetenTicket to Ride

At first glance my kiddos weren’t too sure about this one, but after one round, they were hooked. Now we play it every Sunday night without fail… and some other nights in between.

Ticket to Ride is another game where the overall idea is very simple: build trains from city to city. Add in certain routes you’re trying to claim, getting in the way of others’ routes, and trying to get the longest route bonus, and you’ve got a game full of strategy and fun.

Ours is a United States version, but you can also play on other continents. We may have to start collecting more. Just watch out for Bree – she has more fun getting in the way of your routes than actually trying to claim her own.


A few more honorable mentions aren’t new games we’ve just discovered, but they are long-standing family favorites:

Top 5 Favorite Family Games from Forty EighetenPit

I have been playing and loving this game for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure we have our own family version that doesn’t involve all of the rules, but I’m okay with that ‘cuz it’s fun every time.

Quite simply, you’re trying to collect all 9 of one commodity so you can throw down your cards and yell “PIT!” thus declaring yourself the winner. You get there by loudly shouting “two, two, two!” as you try to trade your cards with someone else who is also yelling how many cards they’re trying to trade. We have tried silent versions of the game, but that takes away half the fun.

You keep trading the same cards back and forth until you realize that everyone is trying to get rid of their Wheat. So you collect all of the wheat and WIN! What’s not to love?

Top 5 Favorite Family Games from Forty EighetenScattergories

This has been my all-time favorite game to play with my family since I was a teenager. We crack ourselves up and laugh all. night. long. I’m pretty sure cut throat Scattergories players would NOT be impressed with our games, but we have no plans to change.

If you have never had the great fortune of playing this game, here’s the basics: You are given a list of 12 categories and a letter of the alphabet. Before time is up, you try to list a word that fits into each category and begins with the chosen letter. If you can come up with multi-word answers that all begin with the chosen letters, BONUS POINTS for you!

Whether or not your answers are acceptable is totally up to the group. In my family, cleverness counts.

Top 5 Favorite Family Games from Forty EighetenUno

No family should be without a deck (or 2… or 3) of Uno cards. Every variation I’ve ever played has been fun (Uno Attack, anyone?), and even the younger kids understand the concept of matching colors and numbers.

Any game that puts this smile on my Chuck’s face has got to be a winner. Amiright? Is she winning the game? Oh, no. She’s just playing a little old draw 2 on Mom. Mwahahaha!

And of course, who doesn’t know a million more games to play with Uno cards? My favorites are Speed and Spoons, but I never turn down a game of War with my big brother – even though it may never end…

What are your favorite family games?

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