Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pig Pile (TOS Review)


“The jig's up! The pig squealed! Over 39 Pink Pigs crammed into a little box! Now it's up to you to let them out!  No mud slinging allowed in this fast-paced family game where players compete to corral the most pigs. Get rid of your cards first and be awarded the prime pile of pigs. Sounds easy, but pigs can be slippery! The more cards you have, the better your chances of calling out HogWash! and clearing away the deck! But don't hog the cards too long or you'll get stuck. The player with the largest stockpile of swine after the final round wins. Quick thinking and clever card play determine how high you'll heap your hogs.”

My first TOS Review for the year is a game called Pig Pile. Pig Pile was a big hit with our family. In fact, it was a hit with our neighbor’s family too—Emily has frequently taken it down the street to play it with her 15 year old friend and his parents. The game itself was fairly simple—We skimmed the rules and were playing in minutes. Basically, the players are trying to get rid of the cards in their hands by playing cards on the “pig pile” (discard pile).  Any card can be played that has a higher number than the top card on the pile. Several twists made it more entertaining—“hog wash,” “hog tied,” and “ewe turn” cards clear the deck, create skipped turns and reverse play direction.

We enjoyed the game the first few times we played it, but according to the game rules, the adorable little plastic pigs are only passed out at the end of each round, requiring very little pig interaction. This also made the game very long, because several rounds were required to accumulate pigs.  We wanted to incorporate the pigs more into the game play, so we altered the rules, awarding a pig for each “hog wash” and stealing a pig from another player for each “ewe turn” card played.  The first player out of cards was awarded 3 pigs (as per game directions). We found that the constant pig earning and trading added a fun twist to the game, making it even more entertaining.

Pig Pyramids are fun to make between turns!


Although the game rules specify 3 or more players, we found that it worked quite well with only 2 players. For our family, this game was just plain fun, but I think it would be educational for younger children who are still mastering greater-than/ less-than skills. I recommend Pig Pile as a fun family game!

Pig Pile includes 80 cards and 40 absolutely adorable pink pigs. It is designed for is for 3-6 players, ages 7 and up, and sells for $15.95. R&R Games sells many other family-friendly games as well.

R&R Games is offering a discount code of 20% off any purchase from their website. “CREW20”

As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this game free in exchange for my honest review. If you’d like to read more reviews of Pig Pile or another R&R game, Flea Circus, please visit the TOS Blog!


Monday, August 22, 2011

My Artsy Daughter

Katie has spent the last month painting, sewing, and crafting. Most of these items will be gifts for her sorority little sister this coming year. I am always impressed with her finished products and envy her creativity! These are all her own designs and ideas—I think she needs to start an Etsy shop!





Even the push pins are painted to match!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why Can’t Christians Be More Like Bikers?

imageLast weekend, at the Women of Faith conference in Atlanta, Lisa Harper told of an experience she had while riding her motorcycle in Colorado. She was all alone on a lonely mountain road when she sighted a group of deer clustered by the highway. She pulled her bike off to the side of the road and just stood for a while, enjoying watching the deer and admiring God’s creation. As she stood there, a big, burly biker pulled up beside her. Very close beside her! As she started to panic, he asked, “Are you OK, Ma’am?

She replied that she was fine.

He asked, “Is your bike OK?”

She assured him that she was just fine and had just stopped to admire the view. After assuring himself that she was fine, he zoomed away. A few minutes later, another lone biker stopped to see if she needed help.

Lisa was impressed with the concern these intimidating-looking men had for a fellow biker.  She made the point that—How much more should we Christians be caring for each other? Do WE have the reputation of being there for each other? When we are in distress, do we have the assurance that our brothers and sisters in Christ will be there for us? And if not, why not?

What if the world saw us like that?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

God Works Through Brokenness

One of the wonderful speakers that I was privileged to hear last weekend at the Women of Faith conference was Nicole Johnson. We were treated to two of her powerful dramas—one about the many roles we women juggle and one about the “invisible woman.” She also told more of her personal story than she has done before at WOF.


She described how her life had been broken through divorce, leaving her feeling like she was unable to be of use to God. But she came to understand that , just as coffee beans must be picked and handled and roasted before they are of value, we too must often go through the fire before we can be all that God has planned for us.

It is through our brokenness that God can make so much more of our lives.  Nothing in God’s economy is ever wasted!

I know this is true in my life. I am in a broken place right now and have been for several years. I would have never chosen to be here. But I wouldn’t trade the spiritual blessings that have come from this situation for anything. My prayer life has grown; I have more compassion for others; I have learned to trust in God as my provider. I have learned that He is enough!  I am so blessed to hear the testimonies of other women that have suffered so much more than I have, yet survived to tell of God’s love. God is truly using them to do His kingdom work.

Nicole also discussed the anger that women so often feel and display. What triggers our anger is seldom the actual cause. We need to ask ourselves what the issue really is—powerlessness? anger at God?  Good food for thought here, as well.


Angie Smith (at her third WOF event ever) shared the difficult story of her baby’s death.  She, too, shared that “pain is not wasted in the Kingdom of God.” She talked about Peter walking on water. Although he sank, when he lost focus on Jesus, as he was going under the water, he reached out his hand to the only One who could save him. Sometimes in life, we are so broken, that is all we can do—to muster together just enough energy to reach for Jesus. And that is enough!


Laura Story shared her wonderful music with us, including one of my favorites, “Mighty to Save.” She too had a story of God’s mercy, comfort, and sovereignty as she shared about her husband’s ordeal with brain cancer only one year  into their marriage. Several years later, he has still not fully recovered, but she continues to look toward God instead of circumstances.


I am so thankful for these women who are willing to share their stories and pain. And I am even more thankful to God, who holds each of us in His hands and will never ever let go.


Thank you to BookSneeze and Women of Faith for providing me with free tickets to this event!

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day of School

Today was our first official day of school for the year. Unfortunately, not a great day. It started well. Emily opened her traditional “back to school” gifts—some fun patterned mechanical pencils and 6th grade Brain Quest cards.


She zipped through her math and Wordly Wise assignments. Next was science—what I thought would be a fun experiment book on Light. She tried to breeze through the 2 experiments without reading the directions carefully, requiring me to read them to her and enforce that she actually perform them correctly. By this time, her attitude was sinking fast. When she gets angry and stubborn, nothing will get accomplished. After a short break, we sat down to read our devotional, but I abandoned that when she stubbornly refused to discuss the lesson. I was set to start our Beyond Five in Row study (Cricket in Times Square), but decided to put it off until she showed a better mood.


We picked back up after lunch and completed everything with a better attitude.

I’m hoping tomorrow goes better!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Refreshed and Renewed


I got back from the Women of Faith conference last night—physically tired, but definitely renewed spiritually. I plan to post more later about some of the specific messages, but here are some of my initial thoughts….

*Sheila Walsh—Wow!  Sheila has always been one of my favorite WOF speakers. I was thrilled that she spoke 3 different times this year! She always makes me laugh AND cry. Her love for God and faith shine through everything she says and her honesty and “real-ness” inspire me. And then to hear her sing as well. Wow.


*I was sad not to hear some of the “regular” speakers, since there are now two WOF teams—one on the east coast and one on the west. But I loved getting to “know” new speakers—Angie Smith,  Lisa Harper, and Laura Story and to hear their stories. I seriously couldn’t pick a favorite speaker this year!

*There is NOTHING like singing praise songs in an arena with 8000 other women! Amazing experience.


(The worship team on stage; Dramatist Nicole Johnson is in orange.)

*My seats this year were on the floor! It was fun to be so close to the stage. We were about 15 feet from the “front porch” where the speakers all sit. I loved seeing the speakers dancing to the praise music, whispering together, and supporting each other as they spoke. Some of their children were in and out as well. Such fun to see the children of one of the singers from “Mary Mary” dancing to their mama’s music! And why was Sheila Walsh taking a picture of the monitor with her cell phone while Mary Mary sang? Hmm.P1010079

(The speakers’ “front porch.”)

This year’s theme is “Imagine.” “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory…” Eph. 3:20  The message I heard over and over from every single speaker was “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” John 16:33   And each speaker was an amazing example of that!

Seriously—if there is a Woman of Faith event anywhere near you, grab a friend or group of friends and go!


Thank you to BookSneeze and Women of Faith for providing me with free tickets to this event!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Days

We don’t do a lot of structured activities in the summer. I have Emily do about an hour of schoolwork and piano practice, which leaves her a lot of free time.

I love seeing her creativity.

She plays outside a lot and likes to catch lizards.


One day, she set up an employment agency and tried to determine the perfect job for her draftees (uh-applicants). Here is Katie during the interview process.


Another day, she set up a restaurant, took orders, and made everyone lunch.




Yes, there was a bill! I refused to pay however, since it was MY food she was cooking!


Lunch turned out rather….uh….interesting! Pita bread pizza with an egg on top!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Schoolroom photos

We are fortunate to have a study in our home, so it also functions as a schoolroom. When I was teaching several children at home, it was easier to use the kitchen table. We have a hutch/cabinet in the kitchen that held our school supplies.

Now that I’m down to one child at home, the study works well for us. I have a desk and can work at my computer while being available to help Emily when she does her seat work.  We still use the kitchen for art projects and spend lots of time reading on the couch, too!

I think this will be the last year Emily can use this desk! Her finished work goes into the basket at her right.


These are the workboxes we have used for the past 2 years. I’m not sure if we are going to continue with the workbox system or just have her use a checklist this year.


This cabinet/shelf stores the books we are currently using. The striped bin holds games and the maroon bin holds colored pencils and markers.


Yes, we love books! We have more shelves in other rooms, too. The bottom shelf holds toys—this used to be the playroom!


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