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The 15 Best Board Games For Family Night

I have to admit, since I was little one of my absolute favorite things to do is play games.  Think about it, what kid doesn’t like a good game? I have fond memories of family game nights as a kid and now I have begun the same tradition with my own kids.  Some of the best board games I played as a kid still remain my favorites, along with a few that are new to the scene.

So I have put together my favorites, some new and some old, to play with the family.  Although Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and other such board games are great, let’s be real and admit most adults play them for their children’s sake.  These games are ones that adults and kids alike will love. Games that engage you in strategic play to keep mom and dad entertained but simple enough the kids can enjoy it.

With that, here are 15 of the best board games for family night…

1. Splendor

Splendor is one of my absolute favorite games!  This is one of the best board games for families because there is an element of strategy involved but there is also a large amount of chance.  You can plot and plan your moves, but if the cards don’t turn up right, your strategy won’t work out. This keeps it fairer for kids playing as they may just be learning the art of strategizing so it evens the playing field a bit.  If you want to know my thoughts and a little more detail on the game play please read my post about Splendor. And if you are interested in Splendor check it out here.

2. Monopoly Gamer

Monopoly Gamer is next on my list of the best board games for family night.  My kids learned how to play it about a year ago when their cousins got it for Christmas. Fast forward a year and my 7 year old was asking for it.  His grandmother got it for him so we began playing it the week following Christmas. It quickly became a new favorite of mine and the whole family.

The game play is very different than classic monopoly but still has the same feel of Monopoly, if that makes any sense. Lol!   But the twist on the game using the Mario characters and the Mario video game ideas of collecting coins and fighting bosses makes it unique and very fun. The only downfalls I have found are sometimes you lose so bad you wish you could declare bankruptcy and I wish it supported more than 4 players.  Other than that, this is a must have for a family game collection. If you would like to add it to your game library take a look here.

3.  Pictionary

Pictionary has long been one of my favorite games to play.  When I mentioned the family game nights I had as a kid, well, this was one of the games we often played.  My dad and I would team up against my mom and brother.  Although, looking back, it probably wasn’t the most fair set up as my dad and I were the more artistically inclined (at least in a drawing sense) and we had a keen sense of knowing what the other was drawing. Boy was it a good time, though. Pictionary remains one of the best board games out there.

So now as an adult I still have a love of the game. On New Year’s Eve we were getting over a virus going around our family so we kept a low profile and just had my mom over for the evening. My 10 year old voted to play Pictionary.  So we did. She and I were a team against my husband, my mom and my son. It was like deja vu as my daughter and I connected just as my dad and I did all those years ago.

This is a very fun fast paced game. You don’t have to be a master artist to have a good time at this one.  It is a bit difficult for younger children to play but there are ways around that. Once when we played just as a family I became the all time drawer while my husband, daughter and son played against each other. This evened the playing field a little since my youngest isn’t quite capable of drawing well enough to make it fair.  Pictionary is a great family game.

If you want to get your hands on the vintage 1990s version my family was playing check here. However, if you want the most updated version check out this version of Pictionary. Just a disclaimer, I have never played the most recent version of this game. Only the vintage 1990s version. If you get the new version feel free to share what you think of it!

4.  King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is another awesome board game.  It is on my list of best board games because once again it can offer some strategic play but there is a huge element of chance.  I mean, who can predict the roll of dice. I know I can’t unless I cheat which I don’t condone. Imagine King of the Hill meets Yahtzee and you have King of Tokyo.  If you would like to know a little more about King of Tokyo take a look here. If you would like to get your hands on King of Tokyo go here.

5.  Yahtzee

This may go without saying but Yahtzee is another of our favorite family games.  For another game that has been around for quite awhile it never loses its appeal.  By rolling 5 dice and figuring out the best way to score the points, all while taking the chance of rolling 5 of the same number, you have a winning game.  Kids of almost any age can begin learning how to play Yahtzee and with adult help decide the best way they want to score points. And what adult doesn’t like a game of chance and exhilaration if you get to yell: “Yahtzee!” If you would like to get Yahtzee go here.

6.  Scattergories

One of the best board games ever made: Scattergories.  This game is great for so many different reasons. The game play can be as short or as long as you  want. It comes with several different lists so you could play one list or all of them. The answers may be funny or serious, sky’s the limit with this one!  

For those that don’t know, this is a word game. You are given a list of categories, a lettered dice is rolled, and you have a limited time to write something down for each category starting with the letter that was rolled.  This was my other favorite board game from my childhood.

I remember playing this around the kitchen table a few times, and having a few arguments over the legitimacy of a word. Oh the fond memories… That being said, this one is a really fun family game but for really young kids would be difficult.  So this one is a great game for parents and older kids who can read well and reason.

If you would like to have your own Scattergories game take a look here. Or if you really want to feel nostalgic you can get one of these vintage versions of Scattergories as well. This was the version from my childhood.

7.  Monopoly and Monopoly Jr.

Monopoly and Monopoly Jr are next on the list.  Yes, I combined these because really they could be interchanged.  I love Monopoly Jr because it enabled my kids to play Monopoly at a pretty young age.  They began playing Monopoly Jr below the age of 5 and really enjoyed it. To this day they still like to play the Jr version of Monopoly.  

But in recent years, now that they are a bit older, we broke out the full version of Monopoly and began teaching it to them. Some of the strategic moves such as making trades, auctioning properties, and gaining monopolies is still a bit difficult for my kids, especially my youngest.  That being said, we haven’t played the full version a ton of times. Once we play it a few more times they will catch onto the finer points of the game. So whether you have young kids or older ones, Monopoly and Monopoly Jr are must have family games.

8.  Risk

Risk is another game from my childhood.  It has a nostalgic quality to it and I hadn’t played it for years until just recently.  It was at that moment I remembered that I truly liked it and missed playing it. Risk was one of those games I grew up watching my dad and brother play, being told I wasn’t quite old enough for it.  Once I was a bit older, old enough to strategize a bit, I began playing with them. Now that I’m grown with my own family, Risk remains one that I enjoy. It has a definite quality of strategy and luck of the dice, making it one worth playing.  With the element of chance that is involved and a little help from adults this is one kids and adults could both enjoy.

If you want to give risk a go you can check out the vintage 1950s version here. Something about the little blocks brings back a flood of memories for me! On the other hand the new version has army figures and a few variations. You can take a look at it here.

9.  Sorry

Sorry is another game that packs a lot of memories.  Sitting around the table with my grandma and brother playing Sorry.  One of those games that just puts a smile on my face thinking about all the times I played it with family.  Moving around the board, knocking others off, trying to get “home”. This is another classic that everyone should have.  

Once again, if you would like the vintage version of the game check this out. If you would rather have the most recent version go here.

10. Sequence

Sequence is another on my best board games list because it combines card games and a board game.  I have yet to introduce my own family to it but it was a favorite growing up. Another my grandma loved that we spent many a night playing when we would go visit.  Sequence is played by playing a card and putting a chip on the corresponding place on the game board. The goal is to get 5 in a row in 2 different spots. It is simple enough for kids to learn but does possess a strategic element that makes it fun for all ages. If you want to have your own Sequence game to try take a look here.

11.  Codenames Disney

Codenames Disney is one I don’t personally own.  There, I said it. But, I was introduced to it through my brother and absolutely loved it.  We had spent the evening with my brother and sister in law and following dinner went back to their place and played Codenames Disney.  It was a blast. I would love to play this with my family. I think it would make a great addition to any family’s game night collection. You don’t have to know or have seen all the movies, just come up with a creative way to describe the pictures.  This one is definitely one of the best board games around due to the gameplay and nostalgic feel it brings with the movies on the cards. You can get it here.

12.  Mexican Train Dominoes

Mexican Train Dominoes is another great family game.  We began playing this one last Christmas after it was given to us and really enjoy it.  It is very easy to understand how it works and anyone can play and enjoy it despite their age.  Just beware, sore losers may not enjoy this one when you get stuck with 100+ points in one round.  Lol! Spoken from getting stuck bad and the game not going as you’d like. But it doesn’t make it any less fun. Just one that is left to chance. You can get a set of Mexican Train Dominoes here.

13. Clue

Who doesn’t love a good Whodunit or mystery? I know I do.  If you do then Clue is a must have and among the best board games of all time.  I loved moving from room to room to figure out who killed Mr. Boddy. Now my daughter has taken up the magnifying glass and gets a kick out of trying to solve the mystery.  It is a great family game as there is plenty of room for multiple players and adults and kids alike can get into the action of trying to figure out the solution.

With all the different versions out there these are the 2 I would recommend. Either this retro version. Or this more updated version that keeps the nostalgic qualities of the classic game.

14. Ticket to Ride

The first time I played Ticket to Ride I didn’t realize how much fun I would have.  It is a very unique game where you gather different colored train cards to connect a route across the United States.  You are attempting to connect routes that are in your hand. The person who scores the most points through connecting their trains and routes at the end of the game wins.  It’s simple enough for even younger children such as 5-7 years olds to start grasping, but challenging enough for adults to enjoy. So this is one that I would highly recommend trying if you haven’t. You can get it here.

15.  Life (The vintage version)

The game of Life.  It’s a classic. This is one though that I will admit you want the vintage version.  Or at least a remake of it. The new one that was made in the last 5-10 years just isn’t the same.  But if you can find the version made in the late 1980s I highly recommend it. It is a game of moving through different things that can happen in life including getting a job, having kids, and encountering good and bad things in life.  The person with the most money wins. Again, kids can grasp the gameplay and it shows them decision making in a game setting. At the same time it isn’t so “kiddish” that adults can’t enjoy it.

If you can’t find this one in your local flea market or your parents basement take a look at this vintage version. Or you could even try this new “retro” version too!

So there you have it…The best board games for family night. Happy gaming!

~Melissa

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item through the link I will receive a small compensation.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Mexican Train Dominoes case with dominoes and trains in front

Mexican Train Dominoes: An Enjoyable Family Game!

So recently we had a late spring snowstorm.  It was crazy! I have to say that I am ready for spring.  However, with the late snow came a lovely family weekend. Normally our weekends consist of running between soccer games, church, and softball practices.  So the slow, stay at home time we had as a family was rather nice. To top the weekend off we played a fun game I was recently introduced to: Mexican Train Dominoes.  

Growing up I knew what dominoes were but had never played them.  So when we were given a Mexican Train Domino set for Christmas we dove in and tried it out.  What we found was a rather fun game that the whole family enjoyed.

A Game of Chance

What are my thoughts about this game?  Well, it was a mix, because, I have to admit, I’m highly competitive.  So, when things start going awry I get a little testy. I know, it’s not one of my great points, but there you have it.  That being said, I do enjoy seeing my family win and do well. So back to the dominoes game. I say it was a mix because this is a game of chance.  You never know what dominoes you are going to draw or how the game will play out. Since it’s more of a game of chance than strategy it makes it difficult to plan a way to win.  You will either draw and get lucky or draw and end up in trouble. 

Game Play

Many already know the premise of dominoes, drawing and matching the number of dots, and this works no different.  There is 12 rounds of play. Each round starts with the double of that number.

Every player draws 15 dominoes and on their turn starts their “train” going towards them.  

They can play as many in their train on the first time they lay down as possible, after that, it’s one domino a turn unless a double is played.

If a player can’t play on an existing train then they can begin the Mexican train if there isn’t one going already.

Once a person plays all his dominoes, each player counts up the number they have left unplayed and that becomes their score that round.  After all 12 rounds you total all scores and the lowest score wins.

These are very simplified instructions but should give you an idea of how the game goes.

Mexican Train Dominoes is Definitely Worth the Time to Play It

During our last game of Mexican Dominoes I got a little over competitive.  I have to admit. But that didn’t change the fact that it was a lot of fun.  This was another game that was simple enough for my 6-year-old to play but challenging enough for the whole family to enjoy.  It does take some time so our actual game lasted for a couple of months of playing a round here and playing a round there. But it was well worth the time.  It was nice to just sit down and play a round or 2, pick it up, and then play later on until we finally finished all 12 rounds.

(This is an affiliate link. I may receive small compensation if you purchase something through this link.)

So, would I recommend Mexican Train Dominoes as a family game?  Yes! I would definitely say it is worth it. Let me know if you try or have ever played Mexican Train Dominoes.  I’d love to know what you thought!

And if you want a couple other ides of fun family games check out my post about Splendor and King of Tokyo!

~Melissa

Game of Splendor set up on table

Splendor: A Great Family Game

One of my favorite things to do with my family is play games!  I talked a little bit about my love of games in my post about the King of Tokyo board game.  Today I wanted to share a little bit about the game Splendor. I absolutely love Splendor. Now I have to admit the first time I played it I liked it but didn’t have any lasting impressions of it.  That changed rather quickly though.

My daughter’s favorite game

So my tween daughter was talking about this game over the next several months.  She absolutely loved playing Splendor. Whenever she would get together with my brother’s family she would get to play it.  She would come home talking about Splendor. Fast forward a few months to November. When asking for Christmas ideas one of hers was the game Splendor.  I didn’t remember it that well by then so I was slightly skeptical and we also had to convince her dad it would be a good game to have. So…we borrowed it for a family game night.

Image of cards and chips in a players "hand" during the game of splendor

Family game night

The weekend we borrowed it in November we played it as a family.  It was a hit! It is a strategic game but there is also an element of chance involved.  And one thing I absolutely loved about it was that it is complex enough to not feel like a kiddie game but simple enough that my kindergartner could play without much help.  He caught on quickly and could make the decisions on what he wanted to do on his own. We could offer him advice as he was not as strategic as his sister or dad and I, but rarely did he take it.  So it was nice to be able to sit down and play a game that felt more mature as a family.

Game play

I don’t want the meat of this post to be about how to play Splendor but I want to give you a quick idea (with a few pictures) of what it’s about.  It is a game with cards and tokens. The tokens are gems and there are 6 different colors/gems. In the center play area there are cards turned up.  Each card has a picture of a gem at the top and the number and color combination of gems needed to buy it. There also might be a point value. When the game begins you go around selecting the gem tokens.  When you have enough to get a card you want you buy it with the gem tokens and take the card. You continue doing that until someone reaches 15 points. This is a very brief description of how it works. Suffice it to say it is really fun.

Image of cards purchased for a hand during game play.

Let the fun begin

So after we had our family game night and played it again the whole family fell love.  And guess what, it made our daughter’s Christmas list. Secretly her dad and I couldn’t wait for Christmas either so she could get it and we would have it to add to family game nights.  So as you may have already figured out she did receive it for Christmas. My husband was off of work the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day so we spent it as a family. This year we just hung out at home and watched movies, played games, and enjoyed our time together. Splendor got used well that week.  Almost daily you could find us at our kitchen table engaged in a battle of whose strategy would play out first.

I would highly recommend Splendor

This probably goes without saying but I would recommend Splendor for any family looking for a fun game to play together.  Even though it says ages 10+ it is simple enough for a kindergartner to play so it’s great for all ages. And even adults will enjoy it. So if you have never tried Splendor you should!  If you would like to try it I’ve included a link if you click on the picture below. 

Be sure and share with me what you think of it!

~Melissa  

* This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase through the link I will receive a little compensation.

Kids at play in a water fountain

Five Ways I Spend Time With My Kids

Do you ever look at your kids and wish they weren’t growing up so incredibly fast?  I do. I have days when I wish the fighting and busyness would end, but more often I find myself counting down how many years I have left before they leave home.  I’m realizing how little time there is before my oldest graduates high school. I see pictures of when she was only a couple years old or when she was in kindergarten and can’t believe how fast time has gone by.  And, in a sense, in makes me sad.

But rather than sit and give you a sob story I want to encourage you to make the most of the time you (and I) get with our kids. I want to share with you the ways I  spend time with my kids and make the most of the few short years God has given me with them at home.

Leading Scouts

One way I have found to really connect with my daughter the past couple years is through Girl Scouts.  She was in another troop for awhile and then I made a scheduling mistake and didn’t have a way to get her to scouts.  Shortly after that there was a need for a troop leader of girls my daughter’s age, so I stepped up and it was one of the best decisions I could have made.  I love leading a troop and enjoy the moments I get to share with my daughter. I cherish the memories we have made and what being a leader had done in my life, her life, and every girl in my troop.  So the first way I get to spend time with her is through scouts, and now my son is embarking on that adventure with his dad at his side.

Coaching Sports

Yes, I used the plural on that.  Sports. When my daughter was really young my husband and I coached her T-ball team.  After that we stepped back from coaching because of time, the age of her brother, and a lack of need for a coach on her team at that time.  Ever since we have sat on the sideline cheering her and her brother on, until last fall. A call for help in coaching soccer. So I turned to my husband and asked if he wanted to, asked my daughter (who jumped for joy), and sent the response back that we would coach.  This time, however, we were walking down the road of coaching for two teams. We couldn’t coach one child and not the other as it would seem like we were playing favorites.

So we are coaching both kids soccer teams. And beginning this spring we have agreed to coach softball too.  Do I love the “busyness”? No! But I do love that time spent coaching and guiding them. I love watching their teams succeed on the field. So, although it makes life a little crazier, I love coaching them.

Date Nights

These shouldn’t be reserved just for your spouse.  Yes you need to have frequent, regular dates with your husband, but the occasional date with you kid is very special to them.  To have the time where you spend time just the 2 of you is amazing. It doesn’t have to be super fancy or expensive. A simple dinner date to a place they choose, a soccer game in the backyard, or a fishing trip would all be things you could go do for a date.  But it will draw you and them closer together in the end.

Family Nights

Family nights are huge for me.  I love spending time with my husband but I also love getting to do things with my kids too.  So to do them together is even better. We spend time together connecting by camping, target shooting, playing games such as Splendor, watching movies, and more.  If you don’t have a regular time to unwind and just enjoy your family you should. It will draw you closer to your kids and draw you in as a family unit.

Just Plain Playing

What kid doesn’t like to play?  It is in their nature to want to play and run and just have fun.  So what better way would there be than to just play. Run, climb, play tag, any of these things.  Not too long ago we had a beautiful spring day and my kids asked to play kickball. So my husband and I obliged.  It was a lot of fun. We played guys against girls and had a blast. I love just kicking the soccer ball around with my daughter.  Even video games can be OK. Last year before my son began kindergarten I would ask him what he wanted to do and many days he would answer with “play Minecraft!”  And that’s what we did. We would spend most of the day playing Minecraft. Just creating and building.

Playing makes you feel young.  Feel like a kid without all the adult worries that come with life.  More people should try a little more playing in their lives. It will not only make you feel younger but will also connect you to the heart of your kids.

Connect with your kids

It’s important to connect with your kids.  When they are born you think of how you have 18 years with them.  But in the blink of an eye they move from baby to toddler to kid to teen and then they move out and start their own adventure.  I love connecting with my kids and I hope these words give you ideas and inspiration to find ways to connect with your own kids.  You will only regret the time you don’t spend with them, not the times you do. Share with me what you do to spend time with your kids.

~Melissa

 

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Neon sign with words about dreams and finding your dreams

Five Steps to Finding Your Dreams

If you read my post “Finding your Dreams”, you might be wondering what is next.  You might be sitting there thinking, “How do I figure out what my dreams are?” or “I have all these dreams but don’t have a clue as to how to make them happen.”  Well, it’s possible to take them to the next step. And That’s what I want to tell you about in this post: How to go about finding your dreams. In a later post I will share with you how to make those dreams happen.  So here are 5 steps to finding your dreams.

1. Meditate

With this, I’m not talking about religious meditation for Budha or anything like that.  I am talking about simply finding a quiet time and spot to clear your mind and relax. As crazy as it may sound one of my favorite places to do this is in the shower.  I can’t be doing anything else while I’m showering and soaking in the hot water is really relaxing. It has even gotten to the point where if I say to my husband, “Can we talk?”  He will say “No! You were just in the shower!” He knows my mind goes a hundred miles an hour and the ideas just flow when I can relax like that.

So whether its in the shower, sitting on the patio, a cup of coffee in the morning before the kids are up, or another time when you can relax, find a way to meditate and clear your mind.

2. Let your mind go

Once you have found the time and place to meditate, just let your mind go, but keep it positive.  Let it wonder into the areas of things you enjoy. If you enjoy sewing let it go to sewing projects.  If you love to exercise think about the next activity you want to try. Whatever it may be let yourself go there.  The only things I would encourage you to not allow is negative thoughts or thoughts about all the things you should be doing and aren’t.  Both those things will get you nowhere. If you have a negative thought redirect your mind to the positive, to something you love doing.

3. Turn the wanderings of your mind into Dreams

So you spent time letting your mind go, mulling over something you enjoy doing.  This could very well be the beginning of a dream. Dreams come in all sizes so don’t count out the little ramblings in your head.  More than likely the things you were thinking about during the last 2 steps are things you love. At least it should have been. And if you love it, it is generally a passion of yours.  And guess what, our passions drive our dreams.

For instance, if I decided to take a shower to meditate in step one and while I was doing so I began thinking about getting healthy.  I might be thinking about how I would like to get in shape and how I’ve always wanted to either participate in a 5k race or triathlon.  Without even trying, I have found 2 dreams right there: To run a 5k and do a triathlon.

So what things did you think about that might actually be dreams?

4.  Write them down

This one is huge, and I admit, I don’t do enough of it either.  Once you have identified a dream write it down at a minimum. There are several reasons this is important.

A. To make your plan of completion

By writing it out you will be more apt to take it to the next step and actually complete steps to making your dream happen.  If you never record them they may just get lost in the abyss of your mind and will never go beyond being a dream.

B. Tracking

In all honesty, more than likely not every dream you have will come to fruition.  But if you write down your dreams, you will see when the do become a reality and will be less likely to be discouraged.  The first time I wrote out my dreams I put down that I wanted a camper that slept at least 6. I kind of forgot I had wrote that down.  The next time I looked at my list I realized it had come true. A little while after making my list we had the opportunity to but a pop up camper which sleeps 8.  If I hadn’t written it down I may have forgotten my initial dream and missed out on how much of a victory that camper represented.

C. To See It

Let’s be real.  Many times if we see something it  becomes even more real to us. This is no different.  If you have a thought in your head it is still just a thought.  If you put it on paper it takes on a new life and becomes real to you.  Something a little more permanent and defined.

5. Have fun with finding your dreams

There are several ways to have fun with this process of finding your dreams.  Once you have written your dreams down you can do something you enjoy to remember them.  Take your sheet of paper and make a “dream” video, take pictures of your “dreams” and create a slideshow, make a scrapbook, or whatever you enjoy that you like looking back at to remember the dream.  Something that you can record when those dreams happen. You might be surprised at how many of them do become reality.

Have fun with the process as well.  When you learn it’s ok to dream it will take you to another place.  You won’t be stuck in the present and it’s worries but in the hopes of the future.  As I said earlier though, don’t get stuck in a negative thought process. For instance, if your dream is to travel to Europe someday, don’t start automatically thinking about how it will probably cost too much, or how you have no one to travel with, or how you are too old to travel that far.  Just record the dream. We can look at the realities later.

Enjoy the hope and excitement that dreaming brings!  Share with me the dreams you come up with!

~Melissa

Dreams picture scene

Finding Your Dreams

Have you ever thought about what you want to do in life?  I mean truly thought about it? Or do you just go through the motions as a mom to take care of your family?  It’s ok if you do. No judgement at all. I believe all of us at some point do that very thing. We get in a rut and for the most part can’t look beyond what today has in store.  But that isn’t always the best way to live. I want you to live to find and pursue your dreams in life, not just survive. 

What is a dream?

A dream is something you look forward to or aspire to in life.  I’m not talking about the middle of the night quirky things your mind comes up with, but the pictures you have of yourself in the future.  A dream is the longing of your heart. For instance, from the time I was in 6th grade all I wanted to do in life was become a veterinarian.  My remaining years in middle school and high school were spent taking classes toward becoming a vet. That’s all I wanted to do in life.

Before I finish my story and tell you how this all ended up let me tell you my big picture.  My full dream was to become a veterinarian and own my own clinic. I knew even if it meant working 70 hours a week I wanted to have my own place. I will come back to this in a bit…. But, so you see, a dream is something you really want to do.  Not a fleeting thought but something you are passionate about and doesn’t leave you.

Ebb and Flow of Dreams

As I continue my story, I went on to college pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology/pre-veterinary medicine.  By the end of my 1st semester things began to change though. I still had the dream of becoming a veterinarian, but my health and boyfriend at the time influenced me to go in a different direction.  I am allergic to animals. Yes, that’s right, allergic to them and I still started going after a career in vet medicine. The more I thought about it I realized that my health would suffer if I was around animals, especially cats for 40-70 hours a week.  So my dreams changed. Not saying I don’t ever look back and wish I would have become a vet, but reality kept me from going after it. Going forward my dream changed, but not fully, it morphed into a new form.

The New Dream

Following my direction changing I finished my college degree and worked for an environmental company for awhile.  When my oldest child reached the age of 2 I decided to leave my full time job and become a stay at home mom. That wasn’t the end of my career and this is actually where I realized my dream never fully changed, just took on a new life.  

Shortly after becoming a stay at home mom I opened a Music studio where I teach piano and flute lessons.  Then I took an evening entrepreneur workshop and tried opening a video business. And now, I am venturing into the world of blogging.  Looking back, I realized all along I have had the dream to have my own business. I always thought it would be as a veterinarian, but now I see the dream has always been to be an entrepreneur/ business owner.  And that is just what I am. Now I just have to take it one step further and grow my businesses. So what’s next?

Finding your dream

I encourage you to find your dream, your passion.  What are you really wanting to do in life? Will it 100% happen?  I don’t know. Could it happen? Possibly. If you want it bad enough and are willing to put in the effort to get there it very well could happen.  Maybe your dream will take on a new life of it’s own and you will find yourself living your dream just in a way you never expected. I’m not saying to rush and quit your day job.  But find what you truly want to do and go for it. You will regret more the things you are afraid to try than trying something and not succeeding. So, start today thinking about what your dreams are.

 

~ Melissa

Mom holding child to relax and embrace them

9 Ways to Relax with Sick Kids at Home

Sorry for the long time between posts.  I had some computer issues and life in general got in the way.  As a mom, I’m sure you know how that goes. Along with that, the past two weeks I had kids home sick from school.  It’s that time of year I guess.  One had Strep and the other a virus, what seemed like a mild case of the flu.  Both were home for two days each, which meant my routine changed.  And to be honest, taking 15 minutes for myself became a little more difficult.  So I had to do some thinking and realized that even the little things could be enough to relax and spend some time for me.  I’d like to share with you some of the things I came up with that you can do, even if you are pressed for time because you have a kid sick or life just gets in the way.

Relax in a Long, Hot Shower

This may sound a little silly, but for me, at least, taking a long, hot shower is a treat.  I often find myself so busy throughout the day that I don’t take time for a long, hot shower.  I might find a couple minutes to get in and wash off quick, or I might just put it off until tomorrow.  But, to me, there are very few things that relax me more than just standing in the hot water.  And even with a little one home sick, hopefully you can sneak away for a few minutes.  Maybe when your spouse arrives home, an older sibling gets home from school, or even during a short naptime.

Take a nap

This may go without saying but if your little one (no matter what the age)  is sleeping, try and sleep yourself.  I know when my kids were sick, especially my younger one, I was up in the middle of the night.  Needless to say I was tired the next day but had to tend to my normal daily stuff and comfort my kid who wasn’t feeling well.  I remember longing for that night to come so I could go to bed and get a little more sleep.  However, if your kid is sick more than likely he/she will take a nap at some point.  If this opportunity arises, don’t get up and do the dishes or housework.  Take a few minutes for yourself to relax and take a nap, rejuvenate so you can get through the rest of the day!

Watch a Show YOU Want to Watch

How often do you find yourself watching cartoons or some other show on pbs, netflix, or cartoon network?  Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those stations or streaming sources, I watch them plenty myself.  However, there comes a time when watching something you want to rather than the latest cartoon is kind of nice.  So if the opportunity arises, turn on a show you want to watch, even if for a little while.

Read a Book

When I was younger I remember spending entire days during the summer devouring a good book.  Now I’m lucky to read a book in a year.  I know this may seem sad but I just don’t find the time to sit down and read.  In all honesty, what busy mom can sit down and read for an entire day.  I know many moms find the time to read and that is not my point.  But, if you enjoy reading, whether you do it a lot or a little, that would be a great thing to do to relax while your little one is recovering from whatever illness they may have.

Play a game

No, I don’t mean to sit and ignore your kids for the sake of games or to spend hours playing board or video games, but to spend a few minutes here and there might be just what you need.  I have to admit I have a game on my phone that I play quite a bit.  There is something relaxing and entertaining about accomplishing the goals within the game.  So, if there is a game you enjoy on your phone take a time out and play for a few minutes while you are cuddling or have a child napping on you.  It might just be the brain break you need.

Chat with a friend

Obviously I don’t encourage you to have a bunch of friends over if your child is sick, but in today’s world you can still chat despite having closed doors.  You can you instant messenger someone, send a text, or even make a phone call.  Plus there are video chats like skype, facebook, or facetime.  You pick but there are ways to stay connected to friends even while cuddling your sweet child.

Listen to Music

I don’t know about you but sometimes listening to music can be one of the most relaxing things I could do. Turn the lights down low, close your eyes, and just relax.  Let your child snuggle on you or nap while you take a minute to just rest and enjoy the atmosphere.  Music can take a person to another place so give it a try.

Eat Chocolate!

Am I saying to eat an entire box of cookies or bags of candy?  Heavens no.  But science has shown that a little bit of dark chocolate (more than 70%) is good for you.  And chocolate can be a feel good thing that boosts serotonin.  So, keep a little dark chocolate, grab a square, and enjoy it.

Do Something you enjoy

Most of all, if you don’t like or want to try the things I mentioned above, do something you enjoy.  Don’t get stuck in the rut that you can’t do something for you even if it’s as small as a healthy treat.  I realize that there are extreme circumstances that may require more attention than others, but in most cases as moms we should be able to take a short break.  So I encourage you, take time for you and do something you enjoy and share with me what you did for you today.

~Melissa

Going to a movie for ME time today

Movie Day: The Greatest Showman

Hey everyone.  Today was amazing.  I had more me time than I really deserve.  My husband had to work a weird schedule today so he was home for a little while this morning.  Because it was just us after taking the kids to school we went to breakfast.  So good.  And then a couple hours later my sister in law called and asked what I had done for me.  I stumbled a bit and said I hadn’t done anything cause after my hubby went to work, I really hadn’t done anything for me.  So her response was “Wanna go to a movie with me, my treat?”  Ya, so cool isn’t she.  Actually I would say blessing is more like it.  Of course I said yes. And I rushed out of the house to meet her.

She was going to see The Greatest Showman about the Barnum Circus starring Hugh Jackman.  I didn’t figure it would be one my husband would want to see but it had peaked my interest when I saw a trailer for it a few months ago.  So I happily went with her.

The Best Movie I’ve Seen Recently

I’m not trying to sit and write a movie review and had only intended to mention whether or not I liked the movie, but I have to share a little bit.  The Great Showman was one of my favorite movies I have seen recently.  

I grew up listening to soundtracks from musicals.  Les Miserable and Phantom of the Opera were my favorites.  My dad would put his cassette tape in the truck stereo and we I would be singing Master of the House as we drove down the road.  At home I remember putting on the Les Miz soundtrack while I cleaned my room and belted out the songs as I picked up.

So Musicals were normal and a way of life for me.  I enjoy the Disney shows that have music more than the plain dramatic ones.  Music speaks to the soul, at least mine.  Because of this, I was excited to see The Great Showman as I love a good musical.  And it delivered and even blew me out of the water.  

I realize there may have been theatrical changes made to the story of P. T. Barnum, but the movie struck a lot of nerves in a good way.  It showed a man with a dream who never gave up on it.  Yes there were hardships, but he followed his passion despite what the world thought.  At the same time it almost destroyed him too. Without revealing too much of the movie for those that want to go see it, there was a lot I drew from it.  It left me feeling inspired but realizing that my dreams and desires need to stay in check.  

“Comfort, the enemy of progress”

This quote from the movie stood out to me.  I know you aren’t supposed to text during a movie but I had to share it with my hubby so I would remember it later.  To me, this was profound.  I mean, think about it.  When we get comfortable where we are we quit trying to go further which means we don’t progress in life.  I don’t know about you but that thought makes me desire progress over comfort.  I would rather be able to achieve my goals and dreams in life rather than stay where I’m at forever because it’s easy and relatively painless.

The End

As the movie came to an end I found myself wanting to watch it again!  In my mind I was screaming to just hit the menu button and play.  The music was phenomenal and the story inspiring.  It drives home going after your dreams and some of the pitfalls that can happen.  In this post I dare you to dream and this movie was like a confirmation to me saying we can achieve great things if we dare to take risks and go after our dreams.  So, while I wait til I can watch this movie again, I will continue dreaming and going after them.  I did something today that filled my cup.  I encourage you to take the challenge and do something for you today.  Be sure and share what you did!

Blessings

~Melissa

10 Real Life Struggles of Clean Eating

10 Real Life Struggles of Clean Eating

I have to admit that today I didn’t do well finding time for myself.  It happens.  I was busy taking one of our puppies to the vet for an unexpected visit.  She cut her leg yesterday so we had it checked out.  Thankfully a little surgical glue, a bandage, and an e-collar later and she is going to be just fine.  Between that and getting ready for a Girl Scout meeting I didn’t have much time to do anything for me.  But, I plan to make time tomorrow.  Since I didn’t make time for me today and many people are looking for healthy eating options this time of year, I thought I might switch gears and talk a little bit about my clean eating endeavors I mentioned in this post about the Daniel Plan.  I love the concept and ideas of clean eating but it doesn’t come without struggles, at least for me.

What is Clean Eating?

For those of you that might be reading this and have never heard of clean eating or only vaguely understand what it is, let me enlighten you on it.  It is a lifestyle of eating only whole, unprocessed foods.  You want to eat only foods that have 4 or 5 ingredients or less on the nutrition label and it better be items that you know what they are.  No 1,2 dimethyl-2,3-whoknowswhattheheckitis, only foods you understand like sweet cream and salt.  No guessing there.  And that is all that is in salted butter if you have ever looked at the ingredient list.  White flour and white sugar shouldn’t be eaten either.  So things like honey become the sweetners you use.  100% wheat flours and whole grains are a staple, instead of the yummy white breads most people consume.  In a nutshell, clean eating is just cutting out the processing and going back to more home cooked, natural foods.

The struggles of Clean Eating

I love the idea of eating clean.  I really do.  Looking at a food label and knowing what is in it gives me some satisfaction.  Knowing my family is being fed well as opposed to wondering what the effects of the so-called foods may be.  As a mom and wife that was fulfilling.  But, (there’s always a but, right?) it was difficult to follow when life got busy.  When we first started the plan I made several things homemade.  I found 9 grain english muffins, multi grain bread, soups, meals, and many other things that fell into the “clean” eating category.  Amazingly they were all things my family enjoyed too so it felt less like a diet and more like a sustainable plan. Despite the things that I loved about clean eating (and still do love), there were some challenges that came along with it.

1. Convenience

This one may be rather obvious, but clean eating is not near as convenient as putting together a quick meal from a box or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven.  If you are looking for the quick, easy way to get meals on the table, this style (at least from my experience) will be difficult to sustain.

2. Longer cook times

When cooking homemade meals, it generally takes a lot more time to prepare whole, unprocessed ones.  It can be difficult to find breads that are clean on the grocery store shelf so what’s a person to do.  Well make homemade of course.  But, let me ask, have you made bread lately?  It generally takes a few hours at the very least.  Now it can be fun and rewarding but don’t plan to come home after a busy day to start baking bread unless you want to be up half the night.  And this is just one example.

3. More dishes

With homemade meals comes the inevitable pile of dishes.  Who has time for that unless you are lucky enough to have a maid to do them?  If you don’t believe me let’s just think about a minimally processed, clean eating spaghetti.  Normal spaghetti these days would probably consist of a box of enriched white flour pasta, a couple jars of sauce, and maybe some browned hamburger.  So generally you have the pan for the meat and sauce and a pot to boil the noodles. In essence, 2 big pans and a couple utensils.  Now take my favorite spaghetti sauce I made when we were clean eating found here from Bless this Mess.  I loved this sauce but you grated carrots, cut a couple other vegetables, browned hamburger (I used hamburger instead of steak) and simmered it covered.  So you went from just a couple pans to a grater, pans, cutting board and knives.  This may not seem like much but it adds up when time is of the essence.

4. Flavors

You might think, “All home cooked natural foods!  That would taste amazing!”  Well sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t.  We were used to the typical American diet of salty, sugary foods.  When you go from that to dishes that get their flavors from other sources (which is a good thing I might add)  it takes an adjustment.  Things taste different and sometimes that is difficult to get used to.  At least it was for us.

5. Planning time

You guessed it.  It takes a lot more time to plan to clean eat.  You have to be intentional about everything you cook and eat, even snacks.  It’s easy to just grab whatever sounds good or is handy, but it’s not so easy if you are being mindful of everything it’s made of.  At least not at first.

6. Finding ingredients that were “clean”

Sometimes you would read about ingredients that were clean or at least cleaner than their fully refined counterparts, but they are nowhere to be found.  I read about some people who found sugar in almost its raw form and used it.  Could I find it at our local Walmart? Nope.  Do I have time as a busy mom to drive all over town just looking for a bag of sugar? Nope.  So it made it difficult at times to find things to use without having to just cut a food completely out of my diet.  

7. Modifying favorite recipes

This is a big one!  At least for me.  Most everyone has their favorite recipes.  Those like mom used to make.  But mom’s weren’t always healthy or “clean” either.  And finding alternatives could prove difficult.  An example of this is my homemade sloppy joes.  I always loved my mom’s savory version of sloppy joes (she had a sweet version too called bbq’s).  However, her sloppy joes called for canned soup.  Yes, a can of Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo Soup.  I have not found an alternative to this.  I mean, how do you replace the flavor of a can of condensed soup even though it may not be the healthiest thing for you.  So it can be hard to modify the recipes which means you give them up or don’t eat clean.

8. Kid approved

This can be the hardest one.  As a mom, we take an unspoken oath to care for our kids.  But, let’s face it, they can be our worst critic.  Now that’s not saying kids are horrible and hard to deal with.  Truthfully though,  they will tell it like it is.  And who wants to starve their kid in the name of eating healthy.  For me, I find great satisfaction in knowing my family likes the foods I prepare so hearing them say they just don’t like something makes me feel like a failure in some ways.  And switching kids taste buds can be more difficult than raising the Titanic.

9. Variety

This could all be in my mind but I sometimes find it difficult to clean eat and not feel like I’m constantly eating the same things. Variety is huge for me and my family.  Sometimes it seems you are in the same cycle day after day, week after week eating the same things.

10. Expense

Money.  The world revolves around money.  And those of us on a budget can find it difficult to eat whole, unprocessed foods without breaking the bank.  Ya you can find some things reasonably priced and some canned goods may even be better than their fresh counterparts, but on the whole, fresh foods cost more.  Take Salmon for example.  A can of Salmon can cost around $3.  Fresh salmon is $7-12 per lb.  Or how about fruit?  You can spend $3-5 for  6-8 apples but a bag of chips is $2.50.  Natural lunch meats can run $4-5 while their nitrite laiden counterparts can run as little as $1 on sale.  You get the idea.

In Conclusion

So now you have the reasons why we struggled to maintain our “clean eating” journey.  Time is the main factor when you look through that.  It takes time.  That’s not a bad thing but when life got crazy busy we just couldn’t sustain it.  Do I like the idea of clean eating? YES!  If i could get it all done and still have the convenience (to an extent) of processed foods I would in a heartbeat.  There were definitely things I loved about clean eating when we were doing it.  So you can decide for yourself.

Eating clean is just a part of being healthy.  You also need to take care of you by allowing yourself time whether it’s to read a book, play a game, or just sit in quiet.  So, I challenge you to find time for you today and share what you did or if you have tried clean eating and what you think of it. Pros and cons.

Blessings

~Melissa

The Daniel Plan - Healthy Living Lifestyle

The Daniel Plan – The Journey Begins

I loved reading books as a kid.  My summers would often include me laying in bed all day long just devouring a good book.  I loved a good suspense, mystery, adventure book.  But now as an adult with a family I rarely find the time to sit down and read.  Yes, I still enjoy reading but it has taken the back burner to many other activities.  But today I made time for me to read.  I made myself a priority for 15 minutes by beginning a new book, The Daniel Plan.  One I believe that is hopefully going to be the beginning of a new adventure for myself and my family.

The Daniel Plan Invitation

About a week ago a friend reached out on Facebook looking to form a small group to do the Daniel Plan with.  Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman wrote The Daniel Plan. The book says to not go it alone but to do it with a group of friends, to have accountability. So she took a leap of faith and asked others to join her group.

When I saw her invitation and desire to have other be a part of this I didn’t know what to think.  At first I was skeptical and a little apprehensive.  Frankly, I don’t like all the fad diets as I think they just set people up for failure.  Maybe for some this wouldn’t be the case but for me, it would.  I have wanted to be a part of something sustainable, more of a lifestyle change, for several years.  But I hadn’t found anything that fit the bill.

Clean Eating

A couple of years ago, in fact, my husband and I decided to try “clean eating”.  I had found this post from Bless this Mess about clean eating and it just resonated with me.  So we decided to try it out.  We switched out some of the foods we ate to more natural products like no more margarine, only butter kind of things.  I made homemade breads, sauces and more.  We liked it in the beginning and I thought we were onto something.  A new lifestyle I felt good about.

The End of It

We tried to eat clean for about 2 months and then we decided we were going to move.  We began the process of selling our house and buying a new one.  And for any of you that have gone through that process it’s not an easy one.  We began some fix up projects on our home, cleared out clutter, and started looking for a new house.  A month later we had officially listed our house and made an offer on another place.  Within  a week of listing our house we had an offer which we accepted and then got word our offer was accepted on a house we wanted to buy.  So from start to finish we decided to sell our house and closed on both our old house and new house 2 months later.  It was a whirlwind ride!

However, despite the excitement of moving and the new house, we weren’t able to maintain our new lifestyle.  Back came the convenient processed foods and fast foods.  I mean, really, who has time to cook loads of from scratch foods when you are trying to get a house ready to sell.  I sure didn’t.  So ended our clean eating adventure.

The Here and Now

Ever since we tried to do clean eating I have wanted to get back to something similar.  To be honest, my husband and I neither one are at healthy weights.  We would both benefit from a lifestyle change if we want to be here for the long haul.  I had never seen anything that interested me or that I would make a priority to read or follow through with.  Many things seemed gimmicky or even more unhealthy.  The eat low-fat/fat-free just didn’t seem sensible to me anymore either.  Until now.

I had never heard of the Daniel Plan so I downloaded a free trial of it on my Amazon Kindle and read a little.  From what I could tell in that moment it appeared to be a lot like clean eating, pushing whole natural foods rather than supplements or low-fat chemical laden ones.  Needless to say my curiosity was peaked.  I was interested.

The Journey Begins

Since the plan itself interested me, the only hurdle left to get over before starting the Daniel Plan was my own introverted self.  Yes, by nature, I don’t easily go meet a bunch of people I don’t know really well.  Especially when sharing things like this journey.  What if I fail?  What if I start this but fall short?  What if all the others lose a lot of weight and get healthy and I don’t?  I know it may not matter what others think of us, but come on, who can fully, 100% say they would be okay starting a journey of this sort and failing in front of others, especially people they just met.  I can’t.  But I pushed through and went to the first meeting. We met each other and decided to read the 1st chapter over the next week.

So the journey begins.  Today, I am starting down a road which will hopefully change my life and my husbands and teach our kids a new way to live.  For my 15 minutes of “me time” for The Challenge, I began reading The Daniel Plan.  I am not quite through the first chapter as I stopped so I could help my husband finish the dishes (duty calls, right?).  I believe this book/plan will be challenging yet good. Pastor Warren begins by pointing out, within the first few pages, how our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and do not belong to us.  They were bought at a high price.  So not taking care of them is a sin and going against they very way we were created.  Tough words I know.  And that is just the beginning….

Your Invitation

I am taking time for me today to begin a journey to lasting health.  I know several more days of me time will be spent continuing reading this book and implementing many of its concepts and lifestyle changes.  So if you are interested in doing the Daniel Plan too feel free to join me.  Join us.  This adventure isn’t meant for one.  If not I hope you at least find time for YOU today.  Please share with me if you are starting the Daniel Plan or what you are doing for YOU today!  And if you want to buy the Daniel Plan book to begin reading it to see if you want to change your lifestyle feel free to check it out with the link below (affiliate link) or in stores.

Daniel Plan Amazon Link

Blessings

~Melissa