Games Night: 5 Games Guaranteed To Make Your Family Laugh

family-games

When I was a kid, there was a shelf in our family's spare bedroom that was filled with board games. My sister and I made a lot of trips in and out of that room to grab games that would have us spending hours at our kitchen table with bottomless bowls of chips. We played them with each other, with neighbourhood friends and with our cousins during epic sleepovers.

I knew I wanted a board game shelf when I had my own kids and we have built a pretty impressive collection, stocked with a lot of the classics from my childhood (Sorry, Monopoly, Twister, Trouble, Boggle, Scrabble). But, thanks to the creativity and genius of today's game designers, we also have several lesser-known games that are fantastic. 

Here are my family's top five favourites (for now, because we're always looking for more). They are games that suit the number (four) and ages of our kids (six to fourteen).

BOUNCE OFF

You flip a card and both players try to recreate the pattern by bouncing their balls into the grid. Whoever does it first, wins the card. Truth be told, this is a great game when my youngest is out of sorts and needs a good redirect and a way to let off some steam or spend some one-on-one time with me. It's also a great playdate game because you don't have to spend a lot of time explaining rules. 

APPLES TO APPLES (and APPLES TO APPLES JUNIOR)

Photo from mattel.com

Photo from mattel.com

This is a hilarious card game that actually works on descriptive language and writing skills the sneaky way (by making it fun!). One player acts as the judge and chooses a descriptive card for each round (with adjectives). Each player has a hand of cards from which they choose a thing they feel best fits with the descriptive card. The judge chooses the best combination (and some of them are pretty hilarious) and that player then wins the card. Everyone gets a chance to be judge. This game was so popular that several versions have since come out, including Apples to Apples Junior (age 3+) which we added to our collection so our youngest could play, too. 

TELESTRATIONS

Okay, so the video above shows a pretty tame round of this family favourite. When it's played at my house, there is a LOT of whooping and hollering and laughing until we have to dry our eyes and blow our noses. My kids LOVE this game (and so do the grown ups). It's become our go-to game when we have friends over, too, because it's the perfect icebreaker. It's easy to teach and so fun to play.

**We recently bought the Telestrations After Dark version (ages 18+) and brought it a holiday gathering — I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. 

SLEEPING QUEENS

Photo from gamewright.com

Photo from gamewright.com

This card game was recommended to us by another family with four kids. We managed to find it in an educational store (for teacher supplies) and it's been a game that goes everywhere with us since. The best part about this game is that it was dreamt up by a real life six-year-old, when she couldn't fall asleep one night. And because of that, the game makes perfect sense to its pint-sized players. It strengthens math, memory and strategy (you've got to wake those sleeping queens!) skills without your kids even realizing it. Two parenting thumbs up!

EXPLODING KITTENS

This hilarious card game made its way to us via the business section of the weekend newspaper. JB read an article about the Kickstarter campaign and how wildly successful it had been for the creators of this game. When he read more about how the game was played, he decided to would be a good gift to put under the tree last year — he shares a really good sense of humour with our kids. From the moment they opened the box and heard the "meeeeeoooooooowwwww" they've been hooked. This is also a highly portable game that always comes camping with us and always ends up being tons of rowdy fun.  
 

We've got a few more days to come up with this year's under-the-tree family board game idea, and I would love to hear your suggestions. I hope this post has given you some good ideas. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. Happy gaming, everyone!

Five Years Later

mom-of-many

Oh hello there, five-year-old photo. Fancy seeing you here. Today you came and danced in front of my eyes, woke up my memories, and tripped up my heart.

You are a photo from so long ago — if I'm to count the years in baby days. Because baby days are long aren't they? And yet baby days are also mysterious and magical, because I can remember this day and what I was feeling as though it just happened. The hardest days of motherhood were also the ones that had my senses most turned up. It's why the memories are so vivid. 

I had four kids under the age of eight. It was the last day of school for the oldest three. JB was working out of town, like he did every week. The idea of stepping out of our well-structured routine was always daunting back then, and I often avoided any attempts. A pre-dinner trip to the ice cream shop wasn't anywhere on my agenda. 

Yet, off the yellow school bus came hopeful and excited faces. Much more grown up than they had been when I loaded them onto that same bus in September. They didn't show any signs of worry or dread about the long days of summer that lay ahead. 

And something shifted inside of me then. I realized how much my kids had been the ones carry me through the year. Perhaps much more than I had carried them. How patient they had been with the changes that always come with a new baby. How hard they worked to care for each other. How much they stepped up their independence when Daddy wasn't home to help. 

Who wants to go for ice cream for dinner? I heard myself saying. 

They were so thrilled and excited to see me "break the rules". I could see their chests puff out with pride knowing they must have done something to deserve this treat. And I could see they were proud of me for taking them somewhere I normally would have said needed a second adult. Even if we dropped our ice cream on the floor (we did) or the baby cried (she did) or we didn't have enough room for dinner (we didn't), we were going to do it together, and it would be okay.

If there's one great lesson I've learned in the five years since my weary self snapped this photo, it's that when I make my kids feel like we are a team, we really are. And as much as the necessary rules and boundaries have made them thrive in the game of life in a big family, running gleefully in the opposite direction has too.  

mom-of-many

I wish it hadn't taken me so long to worry less about how one moment would impact the long-term goals I hold onto as a parent. Because they don't. Kids are wise. They know when colouring out of the lines is for fun. And they respond to it in the most beautiful ways.

This afternoon, five years after our first attempt, hopeful faces came off the yellow school buses again. So much more grown up than they had been when I put them onto the bus in September. And even though it has now become an annual tradition, each of them waited for me to say it first.

Who wants to go for ice cream for dinner?

 

 

The End Of Another School Year

There's something so magical about the seasons that bookend a school year. The spring and fall gifting us with changes in colour and landscape. We see those changes with our eyes and we feel them in our bones. It's like a coordinated dance between nature and nurture when it comes to moving our family through those transitions. 

It is funny, though, that spring comes and wakes everything up at a time when the school year is coming to a close. And then fall comes along and ushers us into hibernation, just as our kids are preparing to take on the challenges of a new year. 

Maybe that's how the dance is supposed to go. We quiet the noise around us, so we can focus on the steps we need to take to learn new things and navigate new relationships. And then colour and light come and splash themselves everywhere and we wave our arms and celebrate how far we've come. 

A few weeks ago, I had the idea that my sister and her kids should take time out of their busiest season of the year to join our parents and my kids for a long-needed grandparent/grandkid photo session during my family's busiest time of year. 

It's never as easy as I tell myself it will be, but we pulled it off anyway. Thanks to the patience and skilled eye of local photographer, Lisa Tullett — who had to put up with photographing six squirmy kids under the high noon sun — we now have a lovely collection of photos taken during on a gorgeous spring afternoon. And they're perfect. 

With my oldest graduating from elementary school and my youngest graduating from kindergarten, I'm so glad to have photos of this moment in time. It has been a year of great changes and triumphs; a year when family was a priority and individual accomplishments were met. And we were able to do so much of what we hoped to because of the support and help my parents gave us so generously — thanks, Mom and Dad.

I'm of the mindset there can never be too many photos. Because with each photo comes a story. And with each shared story comes the strengthening of a family's bond. I see so many stories when I look at these photos of my kids and my family. And it makes me glad to know my kids and nephews will be able to look at them someday and have their own versions of these shared moments. 

Thank you for this beautiful gift, Lisa. Local friends: you can find out more about Lisa's gorgeous photos on Facebook and Instagram. Lisa is also offering one day photography workshops for budding photographers of all levels during the week of July 11 -14th. Check out her Facebook page for details.

Happy summer, everyone. Thanks for lifting me up and carrying me through another school year. I'm so glad you're all here. 

xo

 

 

 

 

A WISH FOR YOU ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Backtoschool2014

This is a big year for all of us.

Each of you is at the beginning of something new.

And isn't it amazing?

Even though you are only at the beginning, I want you to know you have already succeeded.

And it's because you were brave enough to start.

You are so much greater than the greatest dreams I ever had for you.

You have already made me proud.

Remember each moment you will face—good or bad—is only one page in your story.

 You are so much more than one page.

Inside each of you there is magic, there is kindness, there is love.

My greatest hope is that you find it.

And that when you do, you have the courage to share it.

Promise me you won't wish for the next chapter, before you've had time to appreciate the one you're in.

Remember every step leads to the next one.

And no matter which way they take you, I'll be there beside you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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