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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Games for Kids - Niya and Wink

I wanted to share a couple of games we tried recently. We're big fan of Blue Orange Games, as we play Spot It and Gobblet frequently. You can read our reviews Spot It and Gobblet here, as well as some other kid-friendly games). Here are two more games from Blue Orange that our family has now adopted.

Niya by Blue Orange Games  $13.99 (or less)
Ages 7-adult
This is a strategy game where you have 8 qualities (maple leaf, rising sun, birds etc.) and you put your clan token in the space where a garden tile is, calling out the two qualities that square has. Your goal is kind of like tic-tac-toe, only need 4 in a row, or a square of 4. Your opponent then has to put their marker down on another square that has one of the qualities you just mentioned. Then it's your turn - again, using one of the qualities called out. You try to get 4 in a row and block them from getting it. My 11 year old loved it, and it's challenging, though very quick to learn and the games are short. And it's good for adults too.

Wink by Blue Orange Games - $14-16
Ages 8-adult
I'll admit that my husband was not eager to play this game, though the kids couldn't wait. Here's the concept. You set up the cards like you see below, in a big grid. You have your own set of cards, and you pick a number on the board that is not in your hand. Before it gets to your turn again, the person at the table who has that number card in their hand has to wink at you without getting caught. When it's your turn again, if you successfully identify the person, you each get a point. If someone catches them winking at you, they accuse the person. If right, the accuser gets two points. "This was surprisingly fun" my husband said, which is a huge endorsement. The game was pretty silly and resulted in a lot of laughing. We played with people, though it would be even more fun with a bigger crowd. And you should play at a square table, not a rectangular one, to make it more fair. I can see this one getting taken out of the cabinet many more times in our future.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

7 practical ideas to entertain your kids this summer

Thank you to Tesco for writing and bringing you this post.

Summer is the time of year when your family can put aside some of the stresses of the school year and spend some quality time together. Whether you’re the type of family that enjoys an outdoor adventure or relaxing in the comfort of your own home, here are seven ideas to not only entertain your kids this summer, but to bring your family closer together.

1. Backyard camping 
Camping is a great family experience, but it can also involve an overwhelming amount of preparation and the stresses of keeping an eye on your little ones can become quite chaotic. Moving your adventure to your own backyard doesn’t have to make for an inauthentic experience, just be sure to use of a real tent and sleeping bags, and include activities like traditional camping barbeque and events like orienteering and stargazing.

2. Movie nights 
The backbone of family hangouts is the movie night, which can last for a single viewing of a classic family favorite, or a marathon of Disney and Pixar flicks. There are lots of great entertainment Blu ray DVDs options that you can pick up from retailers like Tesco and other stores, that can keep you and the kids entertained.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Get 'Yer Tickets: Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions Concert

Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions is coming to San Jose on July 12. If you haven't heard of it, you're not alone. This is a full symphony performance of Pokemon video game songs. Even if you're not a Pokemon fan (but your kid is) you will love this concert, speaking from personal experience. The symphony plays around 20 different orchestral versions of Pokemon songs from video games, while large screens show matching Pokemon video game play and battles. The music is fantastic, even from someone who never heard the music before (like me).

Here's our review of Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions. It tells you more about the concert and what to expect.

If you're interested in going, you can get Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions tickets for San Jose here. Tickets are $61-116.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What we're watching this month

I'm behind (as usual) on my shows. We finally caught up on the Survivor finale and Amazing Race finale as a family. So then it was time for me to finally finish the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. I was sad to finish, because that means there's no more until they release the new season. The show reminds me a bit of Ally McBeal, not because the awesome Jane Krakowski is in both (she is) but because they're both weird and quirky. You think, "did they really just say (or do) that?" And yes, they did.

Netflix released Orange is the New Black - season 3 - early! I have only watched a few minutes so far of season 3, but I'm excited. I plan to string it out and not binge watch it.

The kids have been busy watching their own shows on Netflix. My son has been busy watching Supernatural and catching up on Family guy. My daughter is into comedians now, and there are a ton of stand up shows on Netflix.

I'm coming up with my own list of family shows for movie nights this summer, including some kids' movies I haven't seen (The Nut Job, The Box Trolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, though I still haven't seen 1, Mulan - which it's hard to believe I haven't seen, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2). My son is interested in the Nightmare before Christmas, which is a classic.

And then there are some movies from before their time I'll force them to watch, like Titanic, Cast Away, Grease and maybe Footloose (so I can sing).

What do you plan to watch this summer?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix #streamteam member.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Coming Up: The Day the Crayons Quit

This weekend, a new Bay Area Children's Theatre (BACT) opens, called The Day the Crayons Quit: The Musical. It's based on the book of the same name.

The plot: "Coloring is Duncan’s favorite thing to do—so you can imagine how he feels when his crayons announce, “We’re done, we’re through, WE QUIT.” Red and blue are exhausted from all those oceans, skies and fire engines, and they want a break. Black yearns to do more than mere outlines. And yellow and orange have stopped talking to each other, because they both claim to be the color of the sun. Uh oh. Duncan better think out of the box—and fast!"

Where: Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland,
When: Saturdays at 10:30 and 2 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., June 20 through July 26 (no shows July 4).

Where: Theatre at the Children's Creativity Museum, 221 4th Street, San Francisco
When: Weekends at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., August 1 – 23.
Ages: all

Tickets: BATC or call  visit or call (510) 296-4433. Tickets for Children's Fairyland show include all day admission to the park: General admission (1 and up need a ticket) - $18; Children’s Fairyland member - $14; Group (minimum of 15) - $13

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Coming Up: Bank of America's Museums on Us - free

Bank of America's Museums on Us program runs this weekend, June 6-7 (some museums are only one day), giving B of A cardholders and Merrill Lynch card holders (credit or debit) one free admission per card at participating museums. We've used this program and love it! The website won't let me give you an individual list of cities to click, so just check the main website and look for California in the pull-down menu.

Participating museums in San Francisco and San Jose area:
· The Tech Museum of Innovation
· The San Jose Museum of Art
· Chabot Space and Science Center
· Contemporary Jewish Museum
· de Young Museum
· Legion of Honor

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Coming Up: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Okay, I'm not expecting you to actually participate in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon (though I'm sure there are a few parents out there who do). But you can take the kids to see the excitement - and for a free Fitness Festival and Expo that weekend too.

You'll see 2,000 triathletes (including those on relay teams) swim 1.5 miles

Coming Up: Summer Picnic at Berkeley Art Center

The Berkeley Art Center wants you to go to their day of art in the park. The event is free, but the art activity is fee-based. If you join or renew your membership on site, you'll get a free silkscreen.

What's happening? At 12:30 take a guided tour of the 45th Annual UC Berkeley MFA Graduate Exhibition with BAC Director Aimee Le Duc
From 1-2, listen to live music from Sara Rodenburg
From 2-3, there's a silkscreening workshop with Rock Paper Scissors Collective. Bring your own t-shirts or totes to silkscreen (fees apply). Food is available for purchase (Phil's Sliders).

When: Saturday, June 6 from noon to 3
Where: 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley
Cost: free