Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tomodachi Life and Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Chloe's Review

Okay, so this post couldn't have come at a better time, now that Christmas is less than a week away!  Is anyone else freaking out about that as much as I am?  Yikes!
Anyway, so I'm sure you all know by now how much of a gamer girl my daughter Chloe is.  She loves playing board games, apps, video games and as long as she's running on full power, she will ignore you until she's ready to acknowledge you or until her power runs out.

Recently, she got a chance to download and review two new games for Nintendo 3DS.  Chloe was pretty excited (as a kid should be) and so was I because one of the games, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, is a newer version of one that I had played and loved when I was younger.

According to Chloe, in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, basically you're the new mayor in a small town of animal residents.  You're responsible for making the town a great place to live.  You can talk to the other residents, find a home, go fishing, catch bugs, earn money and spend money.  She says:  "It's like you have your own town to do whatever you want!"

Chloe loves this game so much, she wouldn't really stop playing or help me out with taking photos.  She said her favorite thing about the game is being able to fish, catch bugs and dig up fossils to donate to the museum.  My favorite thing is that it builds her reading skills because there are a LOT of words that go across the screen, especially when communicating with other residents.  The game runs in real time so if it is 8pm when you're playing it, it'll look like it's 8pm in your town too.

The second game we received was Tomodachi Life.  It's a game where you create Mii characters to populate your island community.  It's sort of like a simulation game where you have to feed your characters and keep them happy.  She says she loves feeding them different things to see what they like and what they don't like.  Also, she said that sometimes when you make them happy, you get something or you can make them level up.  I don't really know what that means, but...

So far, Chloe enjoys this game as well because there are different things happening every day on the island and a lot of secret items and activities as well as mini-games to play.  I've been watching her play it all week and I'm itching to get my hands on it to try it out.  It looks so fun!  Tomodachi Life is the type of game that can grow and expand with her as she plays it and I love that because it's something that she'll be able to continue playing throughout 2015.

I quickly asked Chloe her thoughts on both games to which she replied:  "I love them both!  They're both so fun because I get to do whatever I want!"  She also said that even though its a little hard because she's still learning to read, "At least I'm sounding it out and practicing!"  I have no doubt that she'll use that excuse when I tell her it's time to put it away and go to bed.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tuesday Tips: Don't be afraid to delete.

Good grief.  Tuesday’s post didn’t go up as planned, and neither did yesterday's post.  Sorry!  This is why I hate relying on the auto schedule.  Womp womp.  Anyway, so you'll be getting two posts today.  This one (from Tuesday) and another one later this evening (from yesterday).

I had a smile plastered on my face while I was reading through the comments of my post yesterday.  I’m seriously thrilled that you’re all still hanging around here and I’m so glad that you shared your updates with me!  I can see that everyone’s been so busy with the holidays and we’re all ready for some relaxing time with our family.  I don’t know about you, but it’s times like these where I wish I were a teacher so I could get breaks just like the kids do.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy for our blogs to get pushed to the side and put on the “not right now” list of things we need to get done.  I mean, hey, mine’s been on that list for the past few months!  It’s all good, bro.  Real life comes before blog life and we have to prioritize accordingly.  The down side to that is once you get back to your blog, you’ve got a list of shit to do that makes Santa’s list look like a post-it.

So what do you do when you’ve got a space that needs a lot of organizing and updating but no patience or time to get it all done right away?  Well, I don’t know what you do, but here’s what I do:  start from scratch.  Yep.  Get rid of it.   

Okay, not all of it (unless you want to), but at least get rid of all the things you don’t absolutely need.  All those ads and buttons that have been hanging around your sidebar all year?  DELETE.  Unless they’ve been paid for, just get rid of them.  You can always go back later and re-add them if you need to.  It's just easier to start with an empty space than to try and organize or prioritize an already cluttered area.

Also, that profile image and intro blurb?  DELETE.  Okay, maybe keep the photo, but delete the blurb and rewrite it and make it fresh and new again.  Reintroduce yourself to your readers and followers.

Hmm...what else?  Basically, just try to strip things down to the bare minimum.  Delete all the old info and go back and update it later when you have more time.  I'll be deleting and updating here and there throughout the next couple of weeks so that by the time 2015 comes, I won't have to stress out about doing a massive update to the whole thing.  The design will probably stay the same but everything else should be fresh and new.

What about you?  What updates do you have to get done before the new year arrives?  What's your strategy to getting it done?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guess who's back? Back again...

Well, well, well.  It’s been pretty quiet around these parts and though I do apologize for my absences and for saying that I’m going to blog more and then not doing so, I feel like we all (or most of us, anyway) have been struggling with the blogging blues lately.  The fall and winter months have been flying by so quickly that it’s still a shock to me that 2015 is only a few weeks away!  (YIKES!!)

With the reality of the new year being so close, I feel like it’s about damn time that I put my blogging butt in gear and go out with a bang.  That being said, I’ve got a few sponsored posts coming up this week as well as 12 days of giveaways from the 21st to the 1st to carry you through the new year.  Nothing too crazy, just a few little gifts to show my appreciation for your continued support and friendship throughout the year.  The values and type of prizes vary but they’re all items that I’ve tried and loved – so you know they’re good.

The past few months have been absolutely hectic but I'm hoping to do better once the craziness of the holidays have passed.  Since we've all been in this blogging funk, let's dip our toes back into this whole blogging thing together by sharing a quick update on what we've been up to.  Here's mine:

- Trace had his last surgery and is doing wonderfully!
- Chloe has been excelling in school and is now reading at a 2nd grade level.
- Aniyah started volleyball this quarter and though she started off rough, she's shown major improvement and I love that she has sports to keep her motivated and active.
- I've been working out here and there and have a lot more energy throughout the day but I'm working on a regular schedule to keep myself motivated.
- Joey started coaching little league and he loves it - especially since all the kids love having him as a coach.

So that's my update.  What's yours?  Anything exciting happen lately?  What have you been up to?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tips: It's Never Too Late

This is an apology post.  I've been a horrible blogger and an even horrible-er (that's a word, right?) friend to all of you.  I've been trying to post as often as I can (I found a way to get around the security block at work for posting) but I have been too distracted and too busy to respond to comments and visit other blogs.  It's not fair to you guys (who I still love) and I'm sorry.

Now that we're just about settled in at our new place (just a few minor adjustments left until we're fully settled), I've got a little more time on my hands in the evenings and weekends to watch Netflix, read, do crafts, etc. - all the things I was always too tired to do before (even though we lived close to work, school, restaurants, etc.).  My evenings are much more relaxed and less chaotic than before and I love that most of the time when I get home now dinner is cooked (thanks to my M.I.L. who lives on the other side of the duplex and always cooks enough for a small army) and the kids have their homework finished, Joey's already been home for a couple hours and has cleaned up the house a bit, and all I have to do is eat, get the kids ready for bed at 8pm and relax until I decide to crawl into bed.

Hopefully tonight I'll be able to workout and get some blogging done.  I've really missed reading your blogs and stalking the crap out of your lives.  I feel like I've lost touch with quite a few of you and I want that connection back, dammit!  I know I've been in and out of the blogging world lately especially because of the security block bullshit but I'm trying!  I've got to start setting and hitting goals again because I've been in such a slump, I need motivation!

Here's my blogging goal for the rest of the year:  Comment on at LEAST 10 blogs every day and make 1 NEW blog friend every week.

What do you think of my goal?  Do you have any blog things you'd like to apologize for?  Have you started your blog goals for 2015 yet?

P.S.  I also realize that I owe you guys a giveaway for this month too.  I'll get on that before the week is up, I promise!  While we were moving and packing, I was forced to go through all my crap and realized how much good crap I had lying around that would be great for giveaways.  I'm debating whether I should just use one item at a time or just do a "Crap I Found While Moving" prize pack.  Any thoughts or suggestions?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Petz Beach - Chloe's Review

When I asked my kids "do you guys want to help me review Petz Beach for 3Ds?" they could not control their excited agreement.  My family and I are no strangers to the Ubisoft brand.  They own older versions of the Petz series of games so I already knew that it would be something that was enjoyable and age-appropriate for them.

My six-going-on-seven year old, Chloe, is the one who loves playing handheld games the most.  She's known to be a bit of a couch potato, and will drain the battery out of any smartphone or tablet if left unattended.  With her vast experience and knowledge of video games, it was only fitting that she be the main one to review the game.

She was glued to that thing as soon as she popped it into her 3Ds.  She would come home from school with her homework finished just so she could have more time to play with her pet, a puppy that she named Zoey.

After she had been playing the game for a few days, I asked her if she'd give me a breakdown of the game in her own words.

Me:  So do you like Petz Beach, Chloe?
Chloe:  Yes!
Me:  What do you have to do in the game?
Chloe:  You pick a pet and then you have to take care of it.  Like, take it for walks, feed it, give it water and play with it.  You get money when you take care of your pet and when you do stuff for the people in the town when they have a quest for you.  Then you can use the money to buy cute stuff for your pet.
Me:  On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like it?
Chloe:  10!!
Me:  What do you like most about the game?
Chloe:  I liked getting to choose my pet, making Zoey find seashells on the beach and getting to buy toys and clothes for her.

She's still in love with this game after playing it for over a week so I think that's a good sign.  The game expands as you play so it's great for kids who tire of the same thing easily and it's like an adventure that she gets to embark on with the game.

I haven't told her about the new game that also came out, Petz Countryside, but I think maybe I'll just surprise her with that for Christmas.  I love the fact that this game is kid-friendly (no violence or catchphrases that might be inappropriate) and I also love that it promotes responsibility and forces her to read in order to understand the tasks, not just skip ahead to the action.

Oh, and I almost forgot - while you're playing and waiting for an action or something to load, instead of just "Loading...", Petz Beach gives you neat little facts and information from Encyclopedia Brittanica about the animals so that even while they're waiting, they're still reading and learning!  But, of course, to them it's just playing so it's a win/win for both parents and kids alike!

You can get a copy of Petz Beach in time for the holidays right here!  It's something that they can take with them everywhere (even to the dreaded dentist!) and there's no mess or clean up involved!  Genius.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Thoughts/30 Days of Thanks: Beach Days

It's been a hot minute since I've been around these parts.  Things have been extremely stressful in the real world and I've been overwhelmed with negative thoughts and emotions lately.  Usually when I'm feeling a bit down, Joey will pack the kids up and take us all to the beach which almost always makes me feel so much better.

Ever since I was younger, I've always turned to the ocean for comfort and relaxation.  I'm one of those people that can sit and stare out into the water for hours, just watching the ebb and flow of the tide.  It's like meditation for me.  It allows me to think about everything going on, all the craziness in my life, and just release it and let it go.

The smell of the salty air, the cool blue shades of the water, the warm sun casting shining down on the coarse sand - I love all of it.  It's just a calm, relaxing, peaceful place and yet it is constantly changing and each day there is something different and new about it.  I think that's why I cherish days at the beach so much.  Each visit will never be the same as the last.

Our beach days have been sparse lately because of our busy schedules and the weather but I'm hoping that the skies clear up so that we can jump in the water soon.  Hopefully mother nature will get the hint that I'm in serious need of some salt water therapy.

What about you?  Do you love the beach as much as I do?  What other ways do you relieve your stress and release all the negative vibes in your life?

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Highs and Lows

Sorry for Wednesday's (okay, yesterday's because I was late) confessions being sort of a downer.  I'm just currently in a phase of my life where it seems like everyday there's a new problem to deal with and another issue to add to the volumes of others I already have.  I'm trying to stay positive, trying to look ahead and push forward for a better future but sometimes (more often, lately) I feel like just giving up.  I just want to throw my hands up in defeat and say "Okay, universe you win!" and then crawl in a hole in the middle of nowhere to die.

I know that there are others who have it worse.  I try to keep a straight face most of the time even when I feel like jabbing my blue needlepoint pen into someone's eye because I know that there are worse things than having someone blame you for not getting to the phone fast enough.  There are worse things than having to uproot your entire life and move during the holiday season because your brother who moved in with you a year ago started going down a destructive path and instead of making him go back home and get help your parents decided to give him yet ANOTHER chance to try and turn his life around and offer him an even bigger space in the house you and your family have lived in for a total of 6 years and you can't really do anything about it because it still technically is their house.  There are worse things than already drowning in $20k worth of medical and dental bills yet still having to go in for yet another procedure and another toothache.  It could be worse, I know.

There is still a life for me to live and enjoy.  I've got a super sexy guy who will fight for me and do whatever it takes to make me happy, I have three incredibly smart/goofy/sincere kids who keep me on my toes, I've got a sister who I have the most random conversations with and who I can always count on for a good laugh and I've got awesomely supportive blog/internet friends (that means you) who never cease to amaze me with their inspiration and motivation to continue to seek happiness and thrive.

Right now my life is like a rollercoaster - and I hate rollercoasters - going up slowly and then rushing down with nothing to grab on to and no sense of control.  Stomach turning, heart racing, head pounding, tears falling, can't breath kind of feeling.  Just wanting to close my eyes until I feel the relief of the swoop signaling the start of another rise.  I guess it's better than being stuck on a carousel, going around and around and around...but why can't I just sit on the side and watch everyone else while I eat my nachos and roasted turkey leg instead?

Again, I'm sorry for being such a drag lately, but this is a blog about my life and that's my life lately.  We can't shit rainbows and unicorns all the time - sometimes shit gets constipated - I mean complicated.  But still, I'm just gonna keep trying to send out good, positive vibes and enjoy myself this weekend.  I've already got big plans for decorating, designing, and of course some retail therapy lined up.

What about you?  What were your highs and lows this week?  What are your plans for the weekend?