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Families Again
Sunday, 25 September 2011
I'm Mad and I Want Everyone to Know About It!
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

Tri-Cross Logo  

Yep! I'm mad!

Who am I mad at? I'm mad at the makers of Tri-Cross and I'm mad at the TOS Homeschool Crew for choosing me to review Tri-Cross!

It doesn't matter that the makers of Tri-Cross were nice enough to send us, not one, but two Tri-Cross games to review. We received the regular sturdily made version and the eco-friendly travel version.

I'm still mad!

The regular version comes with a sturdy playing board, twenty scratch proof playing pieces, a really nice bag to carry the pieces in and the instructions. The eco-friendly travel version still has the scratch proof pieces, but replaces the cardboard box with a cotton bag, a cotton playing board printed using soy based ink and instructions. All of that doesn't matter.

I'm still mad!

Tri-Cross Eco Board Game  

It makes no difference that this is a strategy game like no other and I love strategy games. The fact that I appreciate that, in a world filled with mindless video and computer games, this game really makes you think makes no difference.

I'm still mad!

Even though this game came with very easy to follow instructions - even a convenient computer CD with diagrams of how to play...

I'm still mad!

Even though John Allen and I quickly learned how to play this game and soon found out that the phrase "an easy to learn game that takes a lifetime to master" easily fits this game. And, even though the Tri-Cross motto that this is "A Classic Game of Strategy for the 21st Century" is spot on...

I'm still mad!

John Allen and I played this age 8 to adult game for hours at a time. We played all of the different game variations that you could play with two players (there are also ways to play with three or four players- even teams). Each variation was easy to learn, but, as I said, a challenge to master. Just look how easy it is to play the basic game:

But, all of that doesn't matter...

I'm still mad!

Well...you might be wondering why I am mad. You might think that since it was simple to learn and to play, we had fun, the game came in great condition, and the company is a wonderful and nice company, that there is no reason to be mad...but...

I'm still mad!

And I'll tell you why! John Allen kept BEATING me!

This has never happened before. I've always been the superior one. I mean, after all, I am the father. I'm supposed to be smarter. I'm supposed to be the one that teaches my son new tricks. But, he kept BEATING me.

It didn't matter where we played. We played the regular game at the kitchen table...he still won. We played the travel game while waiting for Joshua and Jacob during speech and physical therapy...he still won. We took the travel edition to the football field and played during Joshua's flag football practice...he still won. There was no problem taking this game places. It was always easy to get out and put away, but, not matter where we played...HE STILL WON!

This is not supposed to happen. He's fifteen and I'm fifty! His growing mind is not supposed to grasp complex thinking skills like my mature mind does!

However, it doesn't matter which version we played...he still won. We played the easier, face up, beginner's version...he still won. We played the more challenging face down version...he still won. We played the "Guts" version and then the "Reverse Guts" version...it didn't matter...HE STILL WON!

Oh, I guess I shouldn't feel so bad. After all, I did win a few games. He didn't quite win all of them. And, shouldn't I feel proud that I was such a good teacher in life that the student was finally able to beat the master? Perhaps I'd do better at the three player, four player, or team version. Maybe I should just try one of those. That's it...my mind is just so complex that it doesn't do well with games of little challenge. It's like one of those gifted children that doesn't do well in the regular classroom because their brain isn't stimulated enough. That's it! My brain just needs more stimulation! I need the challenge of a multi-player game! Tomorrow I shall teach Joshua how to play as well. Maybe I'll even teach Sarah. Then we can have a three or four player game. My brilliant mind will be sure to win then!


Oh...*sob*...who am I kidding. I've been defeated! My mind isn't the same as it once was. I'll never win a game of Tri-Cross again. Even Jo-Jo, our dog could beat me. Hey...that's not a bad idea...teaching Jo-Jo to play. Dog's aren't really complex thinkers. Maybe I could beat him.

Of course if I taught Jo-Jo to play I would have to buy another game. John Allen and Joshua would be fighting us over the games that we have. Well, the Tri-Cross website - which I can access by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above - says that the Eco Travel Version is only $19.95 and the Standard Version is just $24.95. I could even buy a really nice wooden version for $35.95. Let me see now...I could buy one of these award winning games directly from the website or I could buy it from a retailer. The Tri-Cross website has a page that will tell me every location in the U.S. that sells their games.

While I'm waiting for the new game to arrive in the mail I guess I could click on over to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and see what all of the other great TOS crew members that reviewed Tri-Cross had to say about it. I can do that by just clicking here. Maybe one of them has gotten beat by one of their children as well. That would be nice to hear. Misery loves company you know.

I really need to cheer myself up. Perhaps it would help if I wished myself "Happy Homeschooling" like I always do at the end of a homeschool product review. Here I go..."Happy Homeschooling, Tim!". There now, that wasn't so bad. I do feel a bit better. I think I even feel good enough to play another game of Tri-Cross. Now where did that dog go...?

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free version of the Tri-Cross standard game and a free version of the Tri-Cross Eco-friendly Travel edition in order to try out and give a honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:41 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 26 September 2011 12:52 AM CDT
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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:01 PM CDT
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Friday, 16 September 2011
Before Five in a Row
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


I have said this before, but it's worth repeating again - our family loves to read. And we love to read together. I treasure the times when one of my children snuggles up to me while I read to them. Well, at 15 years old, John Allen doesn't snuggle so much anymore, but you know what I mean. Even after my children get older, we enjoy good books together. Just recently we laughed and appreciated Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories as a family.

Reading is very important to us. That's why I was excited when I found out that we would be receiving Before Five in a Row by Jane Claire Lambert. You've heard of the great Five in a Row, Beyond Five in a Row and Above and Beyond Five in a Row series haven't you? They use great books and develop unit studies around them. The unit studies almost always contain a social studies/history, science and literature section and quite often also include spelling, grammar and math elements as well.

Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) includes the great children's books and sections to introduce different areas of academics, but that is about as far as the similarities go. Since BFIAR was written to be used with children ages 2-4 the author suggests not focusing on the academics. Those will come. Instead, focus on enjoying time with your children and teach them to love books. If the opportunity comes to "lay a foundation" in an academic area, or if the child shows an interest in something then...great...introduce it. But, the main emphasis should be on, what I mentioned as one of my favorite things, cuddling and reading with your child.


And BFIAR suggests a lot of great books to do just that - enjoy reading with your children. Some of the books were familiar to me, such as Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, and Corduroy, by Don Freeman. Others weren't as familiar, like Blueberries For Sal, by Robert McCloskey and The Quiet Way Home, by Bonny Becker. There were even some Christian themed books included.

The suggested activities were also wonderful. Jacob loved reading Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? and learning about rhyming (language development), relationships (social studies) and poetry (literature). Jacob next chose The Snowy Day and we discussed snow (science), and growing up. We loved taking about a week on each story and discussing a new aspect of it every day. There are even lap book and other activities that can be purchased to go along with many of the books. Believe me, though, Before Five in a Row is chalk full of activity suggestions for each story. Remember, however, that it's okay just to sit with your child and enjoy reading the book together even if you don't do any of the activities.

BUT, the suggested books and activities are only half of BFIAR. Part two is a whole section titled "Parent's Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness". It includes ideas on Activities for Reading Readiness, Coordination, Development of Large and Small Motor Skills, Activities for Bath Time, Activities in the Kitchen, Activities at the Store and more! It's a treasure trove of information and ideas.

Although I have seen the Five in a Row series before, this was my first exposure to really using one of their products and I have become a new fan! You can find out all about their books by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. There you can find sample pages to download for each of their books so that you can see how wonderful they are before purchasing. BFIAR also has "digital resources" and "Fold-and-Learn" items that you can purchase. The book that I reviewed has a suggested retail price of $24.95 and is, in my opinion, well worth it.

Don't forget to also check out what the other TOS Homeschool Crew reviewers thought about this product by clicking here. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free copy of Before Five In a Row to try out and give an honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 9:07 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 19 September 2011 11:31 PM CDT
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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
I'm a TOS Blog Hop Host! Come join the fun!
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: Blog Carnivals!

Crew Blog Hop

I am super excited to be a host for this month's edition of the TOS Crew Blog Hop! You've heard me talk about the TOS Homeschool Crew a lot. It's the team of homeschool bloggers that review great homeschool products on their blogs. Well, even though the team for 2011-12 has been chosen, you can still get involved by joining in the blog hop.

This months theme is "Not-Back-To-School" but don't let the name of the theme fool you. The blog hop folks have tried really hard to choose themes that are vague and open. You can really write about anything that has anything to do with the theme.

  • What do you do on the weekends?
  • What do you do at night time?
  • Do you take field trips during the year?
  • It's past the "back to school" time. What is your regular schedule like?
  • How do you beat the "every day is the same old boring thing blues" after the newness has worn off?

Those are just a few of the topics that you can choose. And, you don't even have to write something new. If you've already written something that fits the theme, then link that post up. Really, the sky is the limit. All we want you to do is join us and have fun. The blog hop officially starts tomorrow, but I thought I would post about it tonight to give you all a heads up. Below are the guidelines. Have fun!    

The Guidelines for participating in the TOS Crew blog hop are as follows:

1. Please grab the blog hop button to spread the word.

<a href="http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=106247&type=thumbnail" mce_href="http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=106247&type=thumbnail" target="_blank"><img class="alignleft" title="Crew Blog Hop" src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v605/devildogwife97/Blog%20Pics/Design%20Elements/WheelBlogHopButtonVBlue-1-1.png" mce_src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v605/devildogwife97/Blog%20Pics/Design%20Elements/WheelBlogHopButtonVBlue-1-1.png" alt="Crew Blog Hop"></a>

2. Please follow our wonderful hosts – Families Again, Marine Corps Nomads, Faith, Family, and Fun, and Training Children up for Christ as well as the 2 blogs in front of your link.

3. Please link directly to your blog hop post. Our theme for this month is Not-Back-To-School.

4. Please do not link up your giveaways, blog hops, etc. (These will be deleted.)

Link up your blog, visit and follow the blogs that interest you and have fun getting to know the 2011-2012 TOS Crew as well as the other participating homeschoolers. If you follow our blogs and leave a comment, we will follow you back! (Since we're all homeschoolers, it may take us a few days to follow everyone back. Thanks for your understanding.)

Now, let’s get blog hoppin’ and have some fun! You only need to add your link to one linky for it to show up on all participating blogs. Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list...

Past Crew Blog Hops: August 2011 - Getting to Know You

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:07 PM CDT
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Monday, 5 September 2011
Pig-Pile! A Game Like No Other!
Mood:  happy
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

RNRGames Logo  

So, what's all this hog talk been about lately? Why, Pig-Pile from R&R games of course! Last year we were blessed to review a couple of games with the TOS Homeschool Crew, but this year we are in game heaven! We have gotten quite a few games to try out and Pig-Pile is by far the best family card game we have played yet!

When I found out that I was going to review a game called Pig-Pile, I was a bit unconvinced that this was going to be something that my boys would like. It wasn't the name, mind you. My boys have been known to be pigs and to pile onto one another. My kids just aren't big game players. Unless, of course, your talking about Wi, XBox, or Playstation games. But, when we opened the package and saw the colorful box, we became intrigued. THEN we opened the box and saw the pigs...yes I said PIGS...inside. No! Not real pigs! Small plastic pigs that have a lot to do with the game. Let me explain a little bit about how to play first. Then maybe you'll understand.

RnR Games Pig Pile  

The rules for Pig-Pile are really quite simple. You try to get rid of all of your cards and collect as many pigs as you can. Everyone is dealt four cards for their hand and, in front of them, three cards face down and three cards face up on top of the three cards face down. The cards in front of them are called their "slop" piles. No, I'm not joking, it really is called the "slop" pile. The cards have the numbers one through twelve on them, except for the "Hog Wild" cards, of course. Some of the cards also have some extra things on them that I will explain in a moment. After the cards are dealt the dealer starts by playing any of the four cards in his hand to the "Pig Pile" and draws another card from the draw pile. The next person has to either match that card or lay a card with a higher number. If someone can't play a card and and doesn't have a "Hog Wild" card, then he has to pick up all of the cards in the "Pig Pile" and the pile resets itself to zero. Of course if someone plays one of those special cards - "Hog Tied", "Hog Wash", or "Ewe Turn", then it could really whopperjaw the whole game! There are some other special plays that folks can make but I won't divulge what there are now. You'll have to buy the game to find out. Let's just suffice it to say that there's never a dull moment with Pig-Pile!

When someone finally gets rid of all of the cards in their hand and in their slop, then they are the winner of that round and are presented with three of those cute little pigs. The game continues and second place gets two of those cute things and third place gets one piggy. You either play a set number of rounds and then count up your pigs to see who won, or you play until someone gets to a certain amount of pigs.  Then they win the whole kit and kaboodle!

My kids are loving it (actually we all are) and are learning a thing or two. Jacob is learning his numbers. Joshua is reviewing more and less. And the family is just plain old having fun! It's a real winner with us. Since we got it, our whole house has just been squealing with excitement! (Okay! I know! That was bad!).

Now I have something that's going to make you all squeal with excitement. Pig-Pile usually sells for $15.95, but R&R Games has given us a special promo code that you can use until the end of the year. It's for 20% off! Just put the code - CREW20 - in when they call for it during checkout! You can get to their great site by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. There were a bunch of TOS Crew members that got to review Pig-Pile but there were a bunch that got to review another R&R game called "Flea Circus". Click here to get to the TOS Crew blog to find out what the rest of the crew had to say about these fun games.

Games like this really fit in with the whole reason that I began this blog - to bring households back together so that they can be "Families Again". So, I'm going to close this review by saying - Happy Family Game Playing!

PS. My kids weren't acting like pigs today, they were acting like little monsters. Must be the rain. It was not a good picture taking day so Pig-Pile game playing pictures aren't quite here yet. Maybe tomorrow. Check back and see!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent the card game Pig-Pile for free in order to play at home and give my honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 5 September 2011 10:17 PM CDT
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