Review: Peaceable Kingdom Board Games

For Wyatt’s birthday this year, I ordered him his first board game, Hoot Owl Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom. We had gone on a little mini family trip (right before all the COVID-19 really blew up here in the US) and I thought playing a board game together one night would be a fun activity for our trip. It turned out to be a good move, and one that Wyatt loved too, thank goodness. He wanted to open it and play right away, so we set it up and started playing, before we even had breakfast – Billy and I did have coffee though, I can’t function in the morning without tea or coffee. I don’t think I could have even handle a preschool level game before coffee…

Anyway, we enjoyed Hoot Owl Hoot so much that we ended up adding a few more Peaceable Kindgom games to Wyatt’s birthday wish list. My dad bought him Snug as a Bug and I recently bought him Count Your Chickens for Easter, and we are having so much fun playing them. They are great to have right now, while we are sheltering-in-place, and also are great for play based learning for Wyatt. Overall I am very happy with them!

They all have very simple objectives, that are easy for kids to understand. In Hoot Owl Hoot, the point is to get all the owls back to their nest before the sun comes up. With Count Your Chickens, Mother Hen’s chicks have flown the coop and you need to get them all back home. And Snug as a Bug in a Rug you need to get all the stink bugs under the rug before they stink up the place – a concept that Wyatt finds hilarious.

Hoot Owl Hoot:

I think the game board for this game is so inviting! The rainbow swirl of colors leading to the big nest in the middle, the night sky, and of course those cute little owls. Players simply play a color card and move to that space – although if you have a sun card, that card must be played, moving the sun one step closer to dawn. This is a cooperative learning game, meaning that everyone works together on their turns, making a strategy to get all the owls to the nest without leaving one too far behind. I loved that concept, especially as this was Wyatt’s first time playing a game. It made everything so much easier, and teaches him about turn taking, which seems to be something we will need to continue working on… lol. It teaches skills like working together and problem solving as a team, such great and needed skills!

Count Your Chickens:

Ok so this game board is pretty cute too, with all of those adorable farm animals and bright colors. It makes me feel springy! In this game, you spin the spinner and move to the animal that the spinner lands on, counting the spaces as you go. Then you gather the same number of chicks as spaces you moved to the coop. This is a great game to work on counting skills, as you can count the squares and also count out the chicks. Again, this is a cooperative game, with no winners or losers. Everyone plays together, and wins and loses together.

Snug as a Bug in a Rug:

Snug as a Bug in a Rug is all about colors and matching and comparisons, like big and little. Before game play starts, you roll the die to see which attribute will be matched – color, number, or shape. Then for play, you simply spin the spinner, and find the matching bug. Once you do, you slip it under the rug! Another cooperative game, where the goal is to beat the game, not each other.

My husband teased me a little over the cooperative aspect of these games, and told me that of course I would find the most “hippie” games for Wyatt, although he did think it worked out well for our kiddo and is finding the cooperative part beneficial. I know this is a world that does often focus on winning and losing, and sometimes that is a reality yes that kids need to learn, that they may not always “win” but learning to cooperate, collaborate, and work together are also important to navigating life as well. I think our current situation in this country illustrates just how important it is to work together! Wyatt is learning to take turns, something he is kind of struggling with, and to play together as a team, skills he can take with him anywhere.

One other awesome bonus to these games – they are environmentally friendly! The plastic is corn based, and there is very little of it. The ink is soy, and the wood is FSC. They are 100% green which is fantastic, so I can feel good about that too. They are sturdy, attractive, and affordable at less than $20 each. I found mine online at Amazon and Target, but I imagine they can be found at other retailers as well.

Overall, we love these games. Wyatt loves playing, we love the family time and the learning, and I am planning on ordering more to add to our collection!

A Sunday of Foraging and Gathering

After a week of not feeling well, by the time Sunday rolled around I was feeling well enough to get out. And I wanted to. Needed to really. Cooped up for so long at home we all needed to stretch our legs and breathe in some fresh clean air. Greenfield Village is closing for the season in two weeks, and we wanted to get a last trip in before they close. We have had so many fun day trips there this year that we wanted to take a last walk around. And I knew it was decorated for their Halloween event so it was bound to look pretty cool too!

The air was brisk and cool, the day was a bit overcast, but it all added to the moodiness of the moment, with the jack o’lanterns lining the streets as far the eye could see, the hay bales, the spooky scarecrows – we felt like we had entered some sort of creepy children of the corn type town this trip.

We meandered our way over to the gardens, which in the summer time is bursting with blooms and busy bees, little birds darting here and there, and elegant butterflies floating from flower to flower. A garden in fall can be just as beautiful, but I think they are in spite of the lack of life. The beauty is a stark one, a lone candle in the window, if you will. The colors shine so much brighter, mimicking the colors on the trees around. There is glory in the brightness of fall, the last flare before winter.

Billy is naturally an outgoing person, and he and Wyatt strolled around that red house while I poked about in the garden. He ran into a friendly gardener who gave him two seed heads, from a sedum and a blackberry iris. She told him that if saw anything in the garden that we liked that was either off the plant and on the ground, or had gone to seed, we could gather and save for our garden next year! I usually have my seed envelopes with me because I am a nerd so we spent some happy time gathering seeds from flowers that we will plant in the spring. Wyatt enjoyed playing among the rows like a little bunny, some of the flowers taller than him. He is such a sweet kid, smelling the flowers and enjoying time in a garden.

Needless to say we found some things. We harvested seed pods and black walnuts, just a few and left the rest for the squirrels, and nicked a few blooms that had been already been bent practically off by overzealous wildlife, or perhaps other people, or their purses and bags or strollers. We felt so lucky leaving with our bounty!

It was nearing lunchtime so we picked one last spot in the village to visit before heading home – Daggett Farmhouse, my favorite. It makes me think of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and it was so perfect to visit so close to Halloween.

If I could move into the village, this is the house I would pick. I love it so much. The colors, the simplicity, the squareness, the big garden, and the windmill next door. Lol. So very New England. It was built before America was America, this house, can you believe it? We poked around outside and headed inside where the reenactors were sitting down to a lunch of pies and cabbage. It looked delicious honestly. Wyatt really enjoyed the mention of pie – I am pretty sure he is going to dig our month or so of pie making. Or at least the eating of them.

We headed home to our lunch soon after, bowls of warm chicken lemon rice soup, which I think did much magic for our colds. It was a good day!

Flannels and Farm Markets

This weekend was one full of fun, flannel, and a fall farmer’s market! After being cooped up for a week or so with coughs and respiratory issues, we were able to get out of the house and have some adventures over the weekend.

We started strong on Saturday morning, by heading to Greenfield Village and hitting their Fall Farmer’s Market. I love this every year! So much to see and do and buy! It is not just fruits and vegetables sold at this one, they include traditionally made brooms, honey, soap, maple syrup, flowers, tea, coffee, chocolate, and homemade pasties to name a few.

And these dried flowers, candles, and smudge sticks are gorgeous! I have never smudged anything but I did recently read that apart from the whole bad energy thought behind it, that it actually can help eradicate germs in your house. Maybe that is the origin behind the idea? I might give it a whirl if it will help to cleanse my house of germs, especially in cold and flu season! These are from Anchored Roots and are sold at Grayes Greenhouse. I am always so tempted by all the lavender items on display but I try not to go crazy and buy it all. Lol. And that popcorn looked so lovely! We are reading Farmer Boy right now as a family read aloud, and in it Wilder describes popcorn as such an American food, and she is so right.

I am always in love with these brooms from Brooms by Henry. Handmade in the traditional ways, there is just something about them that I love. So I bought a hearth broom although I don’t have a hearth. I just really liked the twist in the handle and the craftsmanship of it. I really don’t know what I am going to do with it, but for now I have it hanging in my kitchen. We also always buy the maple syrup from Doodles Sugar Bush. This year we bought the Bourbon Maple Syrup and it is funny, we talked to my brother later and they had bought the same one while they were there! It is really good. Also pictured up there is wool from Aunt Bea’s place. It is made from sheep at their own farm, and they spin the wool themselves.

After shopping at the market, we walked around the farm at the village a bit, watching the hay get processed. They shake the seeds from the stalks, then it shoots out the other end and gets baled. It was pretty cool to watch. We also watched corn husk dolls being made, which was neat as well. We were told that they originated with the Native Americans, who made them after the corn harvest. We could have made one but we didn’t have any cash on us, just our debit card. I really need to start carrying a few dollars in my pocket! We were thinking we could still make them at home – and get the corn husks at a store where they sell tamale ingredients. Is that cheating? Lol.

After taking in the events at the village, we went home for a bit for lunch and because Wyatt kept asking to play. Lol. So we went home and chilled out before heading to an event called the Fire and Flannel Festival. Billy really wanted to see the big draw, the Jack Pine Lumberjack show. The Jack Pine Lumberjack show can usually be found in Mackinaw City, but they were here for the event and we had a great time watching! People were supposed to wear their flannels to the event, so it was good of the weather to sort of cooperate. Lol. It was the first year for this event, and while it was good, I think next year if the event planners stick more to the theme, it will be more fun, if that makes sense. Plus, it was in a parking lot instead of green space, and for some reason that bothered me. Lol. But, first year kind of stuff. I am sure they will work the details out as they move forward in the future. The Jack Pine Lumberjack show though was really fun! If you are ever in Northern Michigan and get the chance to see them, I definitely recommend it!

We spent the rest of the weekend being lazy, and even had pie for breakfast on Sunday! Coffee and pie warm from the oven on a chilly morning was a pretty perfect moment. I might have to do it again over the winter as a surprise for my guys!

It’s Wednesday! What are you listening to?

So, this is obviously a little riff on Monday’s What Are You Reading post that is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. I don’t really intend for this to be a weekly feature, but I thought this would be pretty fun, maybe once a month or three. And I would really really love to know what you guys are listening to!

Let’s start with podcasts.. I am in love with them. I have some that I listen to when I am sans child, since they are not appropriate for his little ears, but we have a few that we listen to together too.

Family Podcasts

Storynory – This is a great storytelling podcast! They share classic stories, fairytales, myths, even poems and all told in a fun, easy listening way for kids. Stories have great sound effects too, to make it more of an experience! Our favorite episode: The Owl and the Pussycat (super short, but I LOVED this poem as a kid and so does Wyatt now)

Circle Round – Another storytelling podcast, presented by NPR. This one is based mainly on folk tales, and some even are read by actual actors. I love the different range of stories that they present on this podcast, and they often pair with orchestras to add music as well. Our favorite episode: The Piper and the Pooka

Ear Snacks for Kids: This is a new one for us, we just found it, so no favorites yet but we are having fun discovering all of their quirky songs based around art and science and culture. We listened to one about teeth and teeth brushing this morning and it was so fun – who knew that topic could be so funny?

Classics for Kids: So, this one, I am pretty sure Wyatt is not paying too much attention to what the hosts are saying, but is just enjoying the music they play. Lol. However, I have learned from this one! Another one new to our lineup.

My List:

Lore by Aaron Mahnke: The first podcast I ever listened to, and I still love it. Mahnke has a way of unfolding a tale! I love his eerie, spooky tales that he slowly unwinds for us, bit by bit. So good! I actually listen to this if Wyatt is around, most of the time, unless the topic is too macabre. Lore is also a show on Amazon and Mahnke has a few books out too! Favorite episode: Black Stockings

America’s National Parks (L.L. Bean): I love this one!! Different stories about the history of our national parks, the people who have visited or worked there, and celebrates the wild nature of them all. I have so many favorite episodes, but here are three that I have made family members listen to because I wanted them to hear these tales: Favorite Episodes: 37 Days in Yellowstone, Alone on a Winter Island, and The Strange World of National Park Gift Stores.

My Favorite Murder: Another old favorite- Karen and Georgia and their quick witted banter lends a much needed mood lifter at times during this true crime podcast. However, this one is not safe for children to listen to, due to language and violence. Favorite Episode: The Live in Glasgow episode

Living Homegrown: A new one to my list, all good stuff about sustainability and how to live on the farm without actually living on the farm, tips on how to live closer to your food source while living somewhere you don’t really have access to land. The podcast was on a hiatus due to Theresa Loe’s cancer, but I think the podcast is starting back up again.

I usually use Spotify pretty exclusively, because I can listen to music and podcasts all in one place. Plus I have the app on my television now, so I can just play everything right from my tv, which has way better speakers. I have to be honest, my music lists are pretty bare! I could use some suggestions and help!

What we are listening to – music:

The National Parks – I had never heard of this band until I was searching for the National Parks podcast. Lol. They are pretty good, mellow for slow mornings or evenings, and coffee or wine.

Lord Huron: Sort of similar in sound to the National Parks, I discovered them for the first time while watching a vlogger on YouTube that we love, Trout and Coffee (jeez, I could do a post on vloggers too!)

The Okeedokee Brothers: So this one is Wyatt’s choice. They have so many albums for kids, and they are folky, bluegrass music, lots of nature imagery. We listen to them a lot! So much that now I actually am a fan too. Lol. Particular favorites here are Jamboree, Through the Woods, Evergreen, and Thousand Star Hotel, and Howl. Look them up on YouTube too, they have little movies!

And some people need no introduction – Tom Petty, Carol King, Van Morrison, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Luke Coombs. We also listen to a really cool playlist called Classical Nature – I found I love Gustav Holst’s The Planets! Wyatt loves Flight of the Bumblebee. There is of course other stuff that we listen to, but these get the most play. This list is so different from what I used to listen to! I had no idea musical taste could change, but ours seems to have. My husband was a Skinny Puppy, Misfits kind of guy- I listened to a lot of alternative stuff and wore a lot of black. But now? We are country music, folk music type of folk. Lol.

So… I would love to hear what you are listening to! I could always use more suggestions! Do you listen to any of these?

Harvest Full Moon

Tonight is the full harvest moon – and coincidentally, Friday the 13th!! OOoooooOOO…

The Harvest Moon is the moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox which is coming up on the 23rd. This time, the moon is also a micromoon, meaning it will appear smaller in the sky, the opposite of a supermoon. So much happening in our skies right now! We are spending this harvest moon with my brother and his family, having a fire in the yard and eating cheesy corn chowder and apple bread made from the apples growing on our tree. The moon won’t rise in our area until after midnight, so it probably won’t be Friday the 13th anymore technically, and I kind of am ok with that.

I have been reading Harvest Moon books to Wyatt this week, in preparation for this moon that signifies harvest season and family. And because I am always curious and forever reading more on things, I also looked up books on superstitions for my own reading. Mine haven’t come in at the library yet, so I won’t get to read them until maybe next week, but I am looking forward to flipping through them.

These were all great reads, but our favorite is Possum’s Harvest Moon. This little possum just wants his friends to get together and celebrate before winter arrives, and meets with a little resistance at first! Eventually, all the friends have a great time together, hanging out at the Harvest Moon. Kind of like we are going to do with my brother and his family – although we will see him after winter arrives too. I am guessing though, historically, that for people in the “old days”, that once the snow fell you might not see your neighbors until spring, so maybe people back then had celebrations of their own, before snows kept them isolated.

I have to admit, the superstition of Friday the 13th does get to me… my family is very superstitious, I blame our Irish and Scottish ancestry! As I mentioned above, I went digging for some books on superstitions, as my curiosity usually does lead me to do. These were the few I found that looked really interesting!

We actually had the Encyclopedia of Superstitions in the library I used to work at, and the kids checked it out like crazy. I had to order a new one for the library eventually, it became so worn out. So, I figured that had to go on my list! I am sure I won’t read these cover to cover, all of them, but you never know I guess! What the Moon Said is a kids chapter book that drew my interest as well, it looks really interesting. They had me at Little House though…

How about you guys? Any plans for tonight? Any suggestions for a harvest moon play list?

Father’s Day Motor Muster

Father’s Day morning was awful. Rainy, cold, gray. But we were undeterred by the bad weather, and tucked ourselves into our rain gear and continued on with our plan for the day!

Greenfield Village was having its annual “Motor Muster”, where people from all over drive their classic cars to the village and show them off. I have to admit, I am not super into cars. But Billy is, and it was Father’s Day, so there we were. He’s a good guy and a great father so whatever he wanted, it was his day. There was one thing I did want to do though, and that was ride the train. A month ago my stepfather passed away, and he was a huge train enthusiast, and I wanted us to take a ride on the steam train around the village, in memory of him on Father’s Day. So we made that our first stop – it was a good way to stay out of the rain too. It was actually pretty atmospheric in the rain, with the thick steam wrapping around the sides of the train. Wyatt loved it, and Jerry would have too.

 

When our ride ended, the rain pretty much had too, luckily. We wandered about looking at the cars, and I found that I was actually really interested this time. Lol. Call it my summer of retro, I guess! We saw some really cool vehicles though, and we had the village pretty much to ourselves for a while, due to the morning’s rain.

 

Those wood paneled cars are really cool looking! Billy loved all the International Harvesters, which I guess are very rare. There were three at the Motor Muster, one of which was a wagon type version, which Billy had never seen and was super excited about. I was more of a fan of the Vernor’s truck, so classic Michigan! I also liked this one:

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We were excited to see the Tin Can Tourists had a few people there too!

 

After we had walked around and checked out all the cars, we checked out the rest of the sights! This year the village had added in vintage era music shows, food stalls, and living history type exhibits, if you could call them that. I thought these ladies looked amazing and so very retro cool, working on their Victory Garden.

 

And yes, as any good Hawaiian blooded man does, my husband ate the grilled spam sandwich. Which he said was excellent!

All in all, it was a great way to spend the day and we had a fun with this blast from the past! And hey, since you are here, check out my giveaway!

World Giraffe Day

Friday was World Giraffe Day and also summer solstice, celebrating the longest necked animal on the longest day (or night depending on your hemisphere) of the year.

Wyatt loves giraffes. They are his favorite (coincidentally, his favorite colors are also orange and yellow..) We were already planning on celebrating solstice in our own small way, by eating summery fruits like strawberries and getting together with some friends, but when I read about Giraffe day, I decided to make a whole day of it. Billy even took the day off from work so that he could celebrate with us all day as well!

We headed out early, basically waking up and packing up our “adventure backpack” as we call it and hitting the road, zoo bound. The giraffe festivities at the zoo were starting at 10, but I like to get to the zoo, or anywhere, right when they open as I have found places are less crowded earlier. We found the parking lot empty and the zoo almost to ourselves when we got there, and since we had time before the giraffe day things we visited some of the new exhibits, like the red panda’s new enclosure, with its rope swinging bridge, which puts zoogoers closer to the treetops where the red panda’s hang out, and the arctic exhibit which is usually jam packed. We had both exhibits to ourselves, which was kind of neat, especially the arctic exhibit. I finally got a chance to view the artwork that is inside! We were able to get very close to the glass as well with our kiddo, so close that a passing seal startled him a little! Most of the seals at the Detroit Zoo have cataracts and would not be able to survive in the wild and it is amazing how they still can perform their water acrobatics and swim and dive with limited vision. Nature is so cool.

After checking out the most popular attractions, we went to our other favorites, the wolves and the bears, who were all out and up front and center that early in the morning. I have actually never seen either the wolves or bears so close to visitor areas, we were able to get great views of them. By the time we were done, it was time to head over to the giraffes, our whole reason for going!

The zoo had volunteers standing by to answer questions, as well as information tables and signs laid out everywhere. We saw the skull of a giraffe, and signed the card for Kuvali, the mom giraffe at the zoo. We have a family of giraffes, Kuvali, Jabari (dad), and Mpenzi, their son at our zoo, and they were showing off in the yard, playing and posing for photos.

Wyatt and I had been doing some reading in preparation for World Giraffe Day, to expand our (my) knowledge of giraffes, and I learned quite a few crazy things! We learned that the collective noun for giraffes is a tower, which makes sense, and that giraffes actually have the same number of vertebrae in its neck as a human. Giraffes also have blue-black tongues to protect the tongue from sunburns, and fight by swinging their necks around, which I never want to see.

Sadly, these gentle, quiet, beautiful creatures have become endangered. According to bornfree.uk, giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40% in the last three decades, and less than 100,000 remain today. I hate hearing about all of our animals slowly disappearing; it is hard to imagine a world where these magnificent beasts no longer roam. To read more about their plight and what you can do, visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation here. I have already signed up to make a monthly donation and “adopted” a giraffe, but there are other ways to help, which can be as easy as just making people aware that these amazing animals are in danger.

How about you? What is your favorite animal?