Top 10 Family Board Games (List Three of Three: Misa’s List)

Last week, I posted both Kai’s suggestions and Joe’s suggestions for board games the whole family can play. Today, I’m posting my top 10 family board games.

For my list, I decided to list games that I think would be good for mixed ages and that would give a good variety of games to start from. The thing is, every family and every person is different. But I think these games would help a family figure out what kind of games they enjoy.

Carcassonne or Alhambra. These are both tile placement games.

In Carcassonne, you’re trying to build a countryside, with roads, cities, grassland, etc. Each feature scores differently and, at the end of the game, the player with the most points wins. Typically, this game is my number one suggestion for a “gateway game,” which means it’s the first one I recommend to people wanting to get into games. No reading required.

In Alhambra, you’re trying to build a palace (an Alhambra). There are four different currencies that you can collect to use to build your structures with. Tiles each require a specific type of currency, depending on how they’re pulled from the bag. Players earn points for the type of buildings they build and also for the longest wall they have. Minimal reading required.

Carcassonne is more all-ages but I really love Alhambra. Kai has played it before and enjoyed it, so some younger kids can definitely play. If you’re just looking for an intro game or if your family is primarily younger, I’d go with Carcassonne. If you’re looking for something more complex, I’d suggest trying Alhambra.

King of Tokyo and King of New York together (since they’re kind of like the same game, with King of New York being more advanced) are one of two items to make all three lists.

King of Tokyo is a game where you’re playing as monsters, trying to destroy each other. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of people enjoy the theme. It’s mainly about rolling the dice and attacking or healing. There are cards, too, to allow for some variety. This game requires some reading but since cards are out in the open.

King of New York is a lot like King of Tokyo but a bit advanced (and, obviously, you’re in New York). You’re monsters, attacking the city. This one also adds in military units that can cause you, the monsters, problems. This also requires a small amount of reading.

We’ve never played these with anyone and had them be disappointed by play.

The Duke is the other item to make all three lists. It is a two player game that’s vaguely like chess, but with more options. (And I think all of us like it better than chess.) The pieces in this game are square tiles that you flip when you move. Each side shows how the piece can move while that side is showing. Minimal reading required.

Castle Panic is basically a tower defense game made into a board game. You’re trying to defend the castle in the middle from everything that’s attacking it. And it’s cooperative – you either all win or you all lose, making it excellent for those kids who have a hard time not being the winner when someone else is. Also, because you can all see each other’s cards, only one person has to be able to read.

Tsuro is one of the games that our family has played the most and I was honestly really surprised that it was not on anyone else’s list. We have jokingly called it “The Spaghetti Noodle” board game. You’re building paths for your player marker to move along with tiles that have all sorts of lines on them (that’s the spaghetti noodle part). Basically, you’re trying to be the last person to leave the board. Sometimes you can send your opponent off the board. Sometimes, you have no choice but to send yourself off the board. It’s a very quick and light game. No reading required.

Ticket to Ride is one of the more popular “designer” board games. Players collect cards that they use to place trains on railway routes. Each player is also working towards specific goal cards (different goals for different players). Some reading required.

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game with Dungeons & Dragons style “flavor”. Complete quests and build buildings to gain points. The gameplay is really simple and it’s a lot of fun. I also like how “scalable” this game is – it plays well with two people or with several people. Reading required.

Dominion is a deckbuilding game. You use buy various cards that are available (this changes each game) and whoever has the most victory points at the end wins. This game has a ton of expansions and is a great starter game.

I do have to insert a disclaimer here: We hardly ever play this game anymore. A couple of years back, Joe and I played through every single card in the game (at the time). This was after having played it a lot already. We ended up finding, after a ton of plays (a LOT of plays), that we both defaulted to one strategy and we kind of burnt out on it. HOWEVER, I still think this is the best deckbuilder to start with. If you enjoy it, there are others that I think are better overall, but this is definitely the one I recommend to people who’ve never done deckbuilders before. It is one of the simpler deckbuilder games, which makes it good for family play. And, if you’re not doing tons of plays, that quickest-path-to-victory isn’t always quite as obvious. And it is fun. Lots of reading required. We managed deckbuilders with Kai before he could read, but it was very tedious. I don’t really recommend it.

Tobago is kind of like a reverse logic puzzle, but put as a game. Joe has referred to it as “multiplayer minesweeper”. In this game, you’re trying to collect treasure. You do this by adding more “clues” about the treasure – things like “NOT next to the ocean” or “Next to the ocean.” The clues are given in pictograms form on cards. The pieces are pretty incredible (except for the jeeps – but the statues and other pieces more than make up for it). The play is great. It’s a LOT of fun. Little to no reading required.

A la Carte is a game where the players are chefs trying to prepare various different dishes (that are usually puns or something “silly/gross” based on a real dish). You have little stoves and “spices” that you shake out of plastic containers. It’s fun and is one of those games where kids really have as good of a chance at winning as adults do. Requires some reading, but since nothing is hidden, it’s easy to get help from the adults. Not for very little kids who still mouth things, as there’s a choking hazard.

There are affiliate links in this post for ease of locating the games. I also recommend supporting your local gaming stores.

Top 10 Family Board Games (List Two of Three: Joe’s List)

My last post was Kai’s Top Ten Family Board Games list.

Today is my husband, Joe’s list. His list has a few similarities to Kai’s list, while it has several different ones that Kai has, as well.

Machi Koro is a game that’s fairly new to us, but it’s . Basically, you’re wanting to develop a city. To do this, you buy cards that give you benefits (money) if the number on the dice rolled matches the number on your developments – sometimes it is activated on other players’ turns, sometimes only on your own. To win, you have to build all of your required landmarks. Some reading required.

Formula D is a racing game. The cars in it are itty bitty (see picture for scale – that’s Joe’s finger). We’ve often tried to introduce it to people who scoff at the idea of a racing board game, but I’ve yet to hear a person say, “That was as bad as I thought.” Most people end up enjoying it. But if you have a kid who still “mouths” things, you want to keep it away from them. Also, some younger kids have a tendency to want to play with the cars. Requires number identification but no reading.

Carcassonne is a tile placement game. You’re trying to build a countryside, with roads, cities, grassland, etc. Each feature scores differently and, at the end of the game, the player with the most points wins. Typically, this game is my number one suggestion for a “gateway game,” which means it’s the first one I recommend to people wanting to get into games. No reading required.

The Duke is a two player game that’s vaguely like chess, but with more options. (And I think all of us like it better than chess.) The pieces in this game are square tiles that you flip when you move. Each side shows how the piece can move while that side is showing. Minimal reading required.

Castle Panic This is basically a tower defense game made into a board game. You’re trying to defend the castle in the middle from everything that’s attacking it. And it’s cooperative – you either all win or you all lose, making it excellent for those kids who have a hard time not being the winner when someone else is. Also, because you can all see each other’s cards, only one person has to be able to read.

Eldritch Horror is a cooperative game where you’re play as investigators traveling around the world, trying in order to gather clues to prevent an elder being from destroying the world. This game is based on the HP Lovecraft “universe”.

Small World is a game where you play as fantasy races, trying to conquer as much of the board as possible before your race goes into decline. When it is time for your race to decline, you pick another race and play as that one. It’s lots of fun. I will say, however, that it is one of the more complex games on this list. There’s a lot of interesting mechanics and a lot to keep track of. However, it’s also fairly easy to help your kids with it if they have a harder time grasping the game. Kai plays it and loves it, but if you’ve got kids mainly under eight, this game will be harder for them. The more other games the play, the easier this will be for them. Minimal reading required.

Pandemic: Contagion

In this game, you’re playing as a disease trying to infect the world. Unlike the original Pandemic, this game is NOT cooperative. The game uses cards to represent various cities. Each turn, players may choose to draw cards, spread disease, or advance “mutations”.

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game with Dungeons & Dragons style “flavor”. Complete quests and build buildings to gain points. The gameplay is really simple and it’s a lot of fun. I also like how “scalable” this game is – it plays well with two people or with several people.

King of New York is a lot like King of Tokyo but a bit advanced (and, obviously, you’re in New York). You’re monsters, attacking the city. This one also adds in military units that can cause you, the monsters, problems.

This post contains affiliate links.

Top 10 Family Board Games (List One of Three)

Today, we sat down as a family and each came up with a list of “family board games”. The idea behind these lists was, “If a family (of mixed ages) asked us for suggestions for ten games to start their board game collection, what would we recommend?”

This is Kai’s list. Kai is currently six, almost seven. In some ways, his list may tell you the most about games your kids will like. In other ways, his is a bit more based on games we’ve just recently played. However, after looking over his list, a good number of these are ones he always loves. (Also, he couldn’t stick to ten and I’m fine with that.)

Battle Sheep is a game that’s new to us – Kai got it as a birthday present to me this year. However, it plays a lot like another game we have (Hey, That’s My Fish!). Don’t let the cute sheep fool you (though they are SUPER cute): this game requires some thinking. In this game, you split your herds of sheep to block off your opponents while trying to get as many sheep on the board as possible. It requires thinking, but not a lot of time. No reading required.

Castle Keep is a game that Kai loves and asks for regularly. I believe this was one we thrifted and it hadn’t come across my radar before that, but it’s a Gamewright game and, overall, Gamewright games make pretty good family games. In this game, you’re attempting to build castles by matching colors and shapes of castle wall pieces. In the advanced version, you can attack opponents’ castles. No reading required.

Small World is a game where you play as fantasy races, trying to conquer as much of the board as possible before your race goes into decline. When it is time for your race to decline, you pick another race and play as that one. It’s lots of fun. I will say, however, that it is one of the more complex games on this list. There’s a lot of interesting mechanics and a lot to keep track of. However, it’s also fairly easy to help your kids with it if they have a harder time grasping the game. Kai plays it and loves it, but if you’ve got kids mainly under eight, this game will be harder for them. The more other games the play, the easier this will be for them. Minimal reading required.

The Duke is a two player game that’s vaguely like chess, but with more options. (And I think all of us like it better than chess.) The pieces in this game are square tiles that you flip when you move. Each side shows how the piece can move while that side is showing. Minimal reading required.

Hive is a two player game that requires a lot of thinking and planning, but plays fairly quickly. The point of the game is to surround your opponents’ Queen Bee while making sure your own Queen Bee does not get surrounded. Each piece moves uniquely. We have the “Carbon” version, which has a couple of extra pieces and is black and white. Some reading required – once you have memorized how each piece moves, no reading is required.

Mancala is a two player traditional game. In truth, Mancala is actually a family of games from Africa/Asia. But here in the United States, the game we call Mancala is one particular form. I have heard that what we think of as Mancala was invented here in the US, but I am not completely sure about that. The board has six pits on each side with one big pit at each end. Each of the smaller pits starts with four stones in it and you have to move them around the board, trying to get the most stones in your own big pit. You can even make your own version of this game with seeds and an egg carton or pebbles and circles in the dirt. There are free versions of the game online, as well. We own a copy of the game that looks much like the one I’m linking to. Kai wins this a lot. No reading required.

Formula D

Itty bitty cars in Formula D.

Formula D is a racing game. The cars in it are itty bitty (see picture for scale – that’s Joe’s finger). We’ve often tried to introduce it to people who scoff at the idea of a racing board game, but I’ve yet to hear a person say, “That was as bad as I thought.” Most people end up enjoying it. But if you have a kid who still “mouths” things, you want to keep it away from them. Also, some younger kids have a tendency to want to play with the cars. Requires number identification but no reading.

King of Tokyo is a game where you’re playing as monsters, trying to destroy each other. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of people enjoy the theme. It’s mainly about rolling the dice and attacking or healing. There are cards, too, to allow for some variety. Pretty much everyone who has played this game with us has ended up enjoying it, even the “non-gamers”. This game requires some reading but since cards are out in the open.

Note: IELLO, the publisher of King of Tokyo, has also released a game called King of New York. That game is slightly more complex and there’s more “bits” to keep track of. I’d say that King of Tokyo is a better intro game and better for kids under eight or (because of the complexity differences) but still enjoyable for the whole family. That’s why King of Tokyo is on this list instead of King of New York. If your kids are older or used to complex games, you might consider King of New York.

Trains is a deck-building game that also has a board that functions as a map. You start with a small set of cards and purchase more throughout the game to help you place stations and lay rails on the map. This game does require a fair amount of reading, as do all most deck-building games. I think most kids would probably start “getting” this around ages eight to ten, but Kai’s been playing it for about a year now, so that obviously varies.

A la Carte is a game where the players are chefs trying to prepare various different dishes (that are usually puns or something “silly/gross” based on a real dish). You have little stoves and “spices” that you shake out of plastic containers. It’s fun and is one of those games where kids really have as good of a chance at winning as adults do. Requires some reading, but since nothing is hidden, it’s easy to get help from the adults. Not for very little kids who still mouth things, as there’s a choking hazard.

Pitch Car is a game where you have a track set up and you’re flicking little disks around the track. It’s a lot of fun that the whole family can enjoy. There’s more skill to it than there looks. When Kai was younger, he didn’t flick so much as artfully shove the disks around (and I do that, too, sometimes). No reading required. 20130101 New Year's Day, Playing PitchCar (31)

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game is a tactical miniatures fighting game based on the Star Wars franchise. The miniatures are incredibly well-done. It also includes measuring devices to tell you how far to move your pieces. Now, I will say that this game would be tough for a lot of kids under eight and maybe as much as up to ten. However, Kai plays it and enjoys it. The starter set I’m linking to includes three ships. You will probably want to purchase a few others as just the three ships can be somewhat limiting. Reading required, but would probably be okay with help from Mom and Dad.

Wings of Glory (World War 2) is another miniature game that Kai’s a fan of. In this game, you’re playing out aerial combat during the World War 2 era, planning two moves in advance. In addition to the rules, you will need to purchase miniatures. Some reading required, but it is fairly minimal. Really young kids may have a problem with this game, but that’s more about handling the components and not using the minis as toys than it is difficulty of play. I actually think that both this and the Star Wars X-Wing game are great “starter” miniature games.

Please note: I have included affiliate links, but part of the reason for that is so that I can link to the exact thing I’m talking about and so that you have an easy place to purchase from. I also highly recommend supporting your local gaming stores.

5 Board Games for Kids Under 5

Right around this time of year, I tend to get a lot of questions about good games for kids, so I thought I’d make a few posts that mention games I’d recommend.

One of the hardest groups of people to suggest games for are kids who are ages two to right around five years old. Every child is different and develops along a different time frame, but nowhere is that more obvious than very young children.

The games that I’m going to suggest in those post are more about teaching kids how games work. Mainly, these games will:

  • Teach kids how to take turns.
  • Help develop gaming “skills” – using a spinner, rolling dice, moving the piece, etc.
  • May help develop motor skills, motor planning, and/or crossing the mid-line.
  • May include some other educational component: matching/identifying colors, counting, etc.

In general, for kids of this age, I recommend games that you can’t lose or co-operative games that require little to no reading. It’s much easier to lose when everyone does. At this age, you want to build a love of playing games and kids this age often have a really hard time losing.

5 games that I suggest for this age that follow those guidelines:

1. Feed the Woozle

Feed the Woozle is a cooperative game where the kids are trying to feed a “Woozle”. There are three different levels of play, but the basics are putting the snacks on the spoon, walking across the room, and feeding the Woozle. As the kids get older, it gets a bit more complicated.

This game is particularly fun for younger kids, particularly kids ages two to four. Most “early” five year olds will still find it enjoyable but it does start to eventually get too easy for them. Still, I highly suggest this one for this age range overall.

2. My First Orchard

Kai tried this game at GenCon this year. It was beneath his play level but I immediately thought of a few young kids that I knew would love it.   In this cooperative game, the players roll a die and try to collect all of the fruit before the raven gets to the orchard.

This game is geared especially towards the younger set, up through probably age four or so.

3. Hoot Owl Hoot

This game is the cooperative answer to Candyland, only better. (Candyland is one of my least favorite games ever, but kids love it and it’s good for learning colors.)

The goal of the game is to move the owls along the path to the nest and reach it before the sun rises.

The next two games do not fit the “cooperative” theme but I think they’re excellent starter games for younger kids. Only you know your child. If you don’t think they’re ready to face a loss, I’d stick with some of the others. These are really best for the upper 3/4/5 range.

4. Zingo

Zingo is very much like Bingo. There’s a machine that shows two tiles. Players match them to their card (for this game, it’s best if kids are on a fairly similar level). Over time, kids often pick up on the spelling of a word, but they don’t have to read – they can just match the pictures.

There are a few different versions of this game, including a math one.

5. Feed The Kitty

This remains a game that Kai still enjoys very much. I imagine that’s because he loves cats so much (even though, in the game, you don’t actually really deal with a cat!).

This comes with a bright green bowl, purple wooden mice, and two dice. Players roll to determine what they do – pass a mouse, put one in the bowl, take one out of the bowl, or do nothing.

 

Now, let me be frank with you: Two to five is a REALLY big age range. Or, rather, a really big ability range… right? So, here’s the deal. Your three year old may be ready for the last two games but your five year old might have trouble with them. Age range is only a suggestion.

You know your child best! Please keep their strengths and weaknesses in mind when choosing a game.

This post includes affiliate links to Amazon, primarily because I wanted to make sure the games were easy to find. I would never recommend a game that I think is not a good game. Whether I had the affiliate links or not, these are still games I would recommend.

We don’t study history.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

In my family, we don’t study history.

We do, however, love learning about specific time periods or the history of specific things. In the last few years, we have intensely learned about ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages, the American Civil War, and World War II… and several other time periods:

  • Kai has recently learned a lot about the Oregon Trail. I think that came about because I saw a graphic novel (at the library) about the Oregon Trail and thought Kai would like it, so I checked it out.  He’s read it a few times. We’ve talked quite a bit about it. I even found a website where he could play the old Oregon Trail game.
  • He became interested in ancient Egypt – primarily mummies – because we were at the science center in Seattle one day and Kai saw small sarcophagus and mummy figurine. He asked if we could buy the “Zommie”. We talked about how it was actually a mummy and discussed them quite a bit. We watched the Reading Rainbow episode about mummies. He wanted to know more. We read a ton of books about both the time period and mummies specifically. We watched a ton of things on Netflix about ancient Egypt and about mummies.  We also went to go see the traveling King Tut exhibit – even though he was only four and we knew he’d not remember much. (He still talks about the “kitty sarcophagus”.)
  • The American Civil War became an interest because one of our groups went to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument and the Indiana War Memorial right after we moved to Indiana. While Kai knew a bit about the time period before (and, in fact, it had started to kind of come up as interest to him right before this). We checked out a ton of books about the civil war and watching some things about it. We also ended up in the 1863 Civil War Journey area at Conner Prairie, a local interactive history park – which was pretty neat and very informative.  It’s been much more relevant here in Indianapolis, an area where the effects of war were very personally experienced and the fighting was up close and person. In Seattle, the fighting was far away (and Washington wasn’t even a state yet).
At the Indiana Bicentennial Train

Kai and a friend at the Indiana Bicentennial Train

That looks a bit like “traditional history studies”. But we’ve learned a lot about things that look less like “traditional history”.

  • The history of the internet and computers. My husband, Joe, and I talk to Joe a lot about what the internet used to be like, bulletin boards (the kind you had to dial into) and how you used to get online (I remember back when we had to lift the phone off the receiver and set it on top of the modem to dial out). We’ve talked about old games we used to play on the computer (like the earlier example of the Oregon Trail).
  • We’ve listened to the Beatles, went to see Beatles laser shows, played The Beatles: Rock Band, and talked a lot about them, their lives, the deaths of some of the group members, and some of the controversy surrounding certain aspects of the band.
  • We play a game called Timeline  (I included an affiliate link to Amazon here but that’s more so you know what it looks like than anything else). With Timeline, you have to build a timeline from cards that have various different things (like the discovery of something or the invention of something).
  • One of our homeschooling groups recently went to the Indiana Bicentennial Train. We spent a good amount of time learning about the history of Indiana through some activities including a walk through the history train (where we looked at a few old objects and pictures of things throughout the history of the state), talked about the preservation of old photos and watched a living history actor who talked about what “his life” was like during the centennial, when he worked on the trains.

Besides, who decides what is important to study? Even in public school, it varies. In every area I’ve lived in, the focus was often more localized. Different people I know studied things in-depth in school that my school barely touched on.

What even “counts” as history? In school, I often had history AND social studies. But that never made sense to me. I remember distinctly becoming annoyed that we learned about Greek mythology in one class but ancient Greece in another. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to study them together? But the study of the mythology wasn’t considered history. It was social studies.

One of the great things about unschooling is that we don’t have to separate things out by subject, there are no specific things one must learn, and we don’t have to stick to a schedule.

So when Kai was absorbing everything he could about World War II, we didn’t have to say, “Okay. That’s enough. Onto another subject.” We didn’t have to say, “Studying these planes? They weren’t in the curriculum, sorry.”

We just encouraged him to love learning and helped support his interest.

But we didn’t “study history”.

Don’t let it happen to you: 7 tips to help prevent your child accidentally being left in the car.

It happened again. Another baby was left in a car and later died.

This is so sad. But this guy doesn’t need any judgment. His baby is dead. She’ll never be alive again. He needs compassion. Already, I’ve seen nasty things posted about this. Even the article says he ‘forgot’ to drop his daughter off at daycare – the quotes being theirs.

Help from a toy: Keep a stuffed animal in your child's car seat when they're not in the car. Move it to the front when they're strapped in.

Help from a toy: Keep a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat when they’re not in the car. Move it to the front when they’re strapped in.

But, as I read the article, I saw was looking for something. And I found it, at the end of the article:

“The father told police that he does not typically drop the baby off at daycare.

On Thursday, he told officers, he was not operating in his normal routine.”

Almost always, there’s a change in routine. We do so much on auto-pilot. We don’t want to think so, but it could happen to most people. But there are are a few ways to help remind yourself that there’s a baby in the backseat:

  • If possible, put the baby seat or booster seat behind the passenger’s seat. You have a better chance of seeing the carrier there.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat when it is empty. When the child is in the back seat, the stuffed animal comes up front.
  • If you have a diaper bag or backpack for your child, put it in the front passenger’s seat, where you’re more likely to see it.
  • Speaking of the back seat, if you have anything that you will need at your destination – even if it’s just your wallet – stick it in the backseat. When you go to get it, you’ll see the child.
  • Make it a habit – even when the child is not with you – to check the back seat. It only takes a quick glance, but the habit will save you. Again, the number one reason children get left in the car is that there was a change in routine. If your routine includes looking back there,
  • If there’s often a change in routine (for example: one day dad drops the child off at daycare, the next day mom does), ask the daycare to call you anytime your child is more than fifteen minutes late to drop-off.
  • If none of those appeal to you, a simple solution is to keep a set of sticky notes and a pen in the car. If the baby’s in the back seat, write yourself a note and stick it on the steering wheel, over the horn.

I’d also encourage everyone to read an article called Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime? I will warn you: it was a difficult article to get through. But it entirely changed how I look at these tragedies.

Most people think it can’t happen to them. Or that it only happens to bad parents. Or forgetful ones. Statistics tell us that’s not true. It happens to people from all walks of life.

When these stories appear in the news, don’t use them as an opportunity to judge. Use them as an opportunity to remind yourself to be vigilant.

photo credit: MRBECK via photopin cc

The Giant Concrete Prairie Dog

Feeding Prairie Dogs

Giant Concrete Prairie Dog… and Kai.

After we left the Badlands, we stopped at a little place called “The Ranch Store” where you can buy nuts and feed them to the prairie dogs.

Prairie dogs, by the way, are really darn cute. Especially when they’re eating nuts. That I’ve fed them.

Just saying.

Kai went around putting a nut in each prairie dog hole, as a “surprise treat” for them.

After that, most of the rest of our trip was pretty… flat? uneventful? full of cornfields and wind turbines? Maybe we were just exhausted, but it was not an exciting drive. The only “exciting” part was that, somewhere along the way, Kai started breaking out in hives from the hotel bedding (we use special detergent at home) so we had to have him sleep on top of one of our blankets from home.

Feeding Prairie Dogs

Feeding Prairie Dogs

Feeding Prairie Dogs

Feeding Prairie Dogs

Feeding Prairie Dogs

Feeding Prairie Dogs

Feeding Prairie Dogs

We WERE excited to get to Indianapolis, though. And now, we’re exploring the area, joining homeschool groups, slowly making friends. It’s different, for sure, but living here is going to be another big adventure.

The Badlands

Doesn’t that name just sound cool? “The Badlands.” It sounds like something straight out of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie.

We spent two or three hours driving through Badlands National Park after we left Wall. The canyons and landscapes we saw were absolutely beautiful. Kai and I went into the center there and got to see some archaeologist working. But the beauty of the place… I don’t even have words for it, so I’m just going to leave a whole bunch of pictures (Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to bigger versions. Worth it for the panoramics.)

I hope you enjoy them.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

The One With The Giant Heads

Originally, when my family started talking about moving to Indianapolis, we asked Kai if there was anything he’d like to visit. His request? Mt. Rushmore.

We started planning how we could get that in. Then, Kai found out that they don’t have really big glasses. And decided he didn’t want to go. If you’re confused, don’t feel bad. I was at first, too.

Blame Phineas and Ferb.

Roosevelt's_glasses

We decided to go anyway. Then, we had the incident with the cat and the gas station. And we’d decided we couldn’t go. Then, when we were on our way to Wall, we discussed how it really wasn’t that far away.

So, during late lunch/early dinner, we decided we’d drive out there to see Mt. Rushmore. Mt Rushmore

I still think it’s pretty incredible that someone saw a mountain and decided, “You know, I’d like to stick a few faces on it.”

We went, we took a few pictures, watched a short film about it, and headed back. I enjoyed going. You can see it pictures and everything but you don’t realize how huge it is until you’re there and realizing, “THAT’S HUGE.”

We got back to the hotel late-ish that evening. The next morning, we set out for the Badlands.

Mt. Rushmore

Sacrificial Celebration Cake to honor one month in Indianapolis.

Making cake

Mixing the ingredients.

A month ago today, our family arrived in Indianapolis. We wanted celebrate somehow and when Sandra Dodd brought up her page on cake as sacrifice, a page I’d read before but particularly spoke to me this time, we decided to make a cake today. We’ve been calling it the “Sacrificial Celebration Cake”.

This cake was a bit of a sacrifice. Kai put in a lot of hard work making this cake (I helped, but only minimally). And then, there’s the cost of the ingredients (because, with our food allergies, cake is not cheap – and money is tight right now). But also, there’s the concept doing something specifically to honor something that’s pretty big for us.

Making cake

Decorating the cake.

Note: this is not in any way a “religious offering”, but I do think that it does people to good to honor and celebrate things – big events, rites of passage, even just the passing of time. So we’re celebrating. Because we can and because it makes us happy.

Sacrificial celebration cake

Happiness is making a Sacrificial Celebration Cake… at least it is today, anyway.

And even though we’ve had some struggles getting here, we’re happy to be here.