Old School Fun with Family Board Games!!

Can you remember you favourite childhood game?  Is it something you play now with your own kids? Do they love it every bit as much as you did before iPods and Wii and X-Box hit the scene?

We just spent an awesome rainy day with friends we were babysitting, and I was thrilled that the star of the show was my most beloved, most favourite, most crazy good fun childhood game… CHAIN LIGHTNING!!!

Most of you have not heard of this game I’m sure, but here is a video clip that shows the game in all its glory… along with the kids cheering as they watch it unfold!

Chain Lightning is the game my sister and I would wake up early Saturday mornings to play for hours and hours on end.  It is comprised of hundred of tiny little coloured dominoes along with template cutouts from which to create some magnificent patterns which we would build and (you guessed it!) watch fall down in a dazzling show of domino delight!  This is akin to spending the day building a fabulous lego project, but the fun of the show as the domoines go down is really something to see.

I’m not actually suggesting that you hunt down Chain Lightning for yourself.  In fact, it’s not even available in stores anymore.  This one game is something I had dreamed of playing with my own kids from the time they were babies.  I always thought I would just go to ToysRUs and pick up a box when they got to the right age.  Well, when they did arrive at the age, I was shocked to discover that this game was nowhere to be found.  I tried every big name game store I could think of.  I searched the title online.  I just couldn’t find it.  I was so disappointed, but from time to time I would tell my kids about it in great detail trying to explain the sheer, crazy anticipation of watching our incredible creation’s grand finale.

Well, a couple of Christmases ago, I was hunting online for games for my son, and I was completely floored to discover the words “Chain Lightning” before my eyes.  I couldn’t believe it was true!  I had somehow arrived at Darwin’s Game Closet online store, and it listed Chain Lightning in its vintage game list.  I proceeded through the system to discover it was sold out.  But I couldn’t drop it.  I was giddy with delight at even locating someone who knew what this game actually was.  I phoned the store, and spoke with them … HOORAY!!!  They were expecting to receive a couple of partial games in the coming weeks! I could not believe my good fortune.  I was singing and dancing and jumping all around telling my kids that at last we would play this most incredible game… I was delirious (and my kids got a huge laugh out of my zainy antics).   The owner of Darwin’s Game Closet agreed to call me with the full details of the game he would piece together from the two remnant kits.

A week later, I was overjoyed to order the game of my dreams!! For sure it cost a pretty penny… an amount that I would NEVER be caught spending on a game under any other circumstances.  But what could I do?  This really was a dream come true!  I bought the game with my husband’s blessing, and the moment it arrived I set about carving out an uninterrupted weekend day that my kids and I could get down to creating some incredible domino displays together.

As it turns out, my kids LOVE this game (bless their hearts!!) and today when we had 3 friends over for an afternoon, no amount of rain could spoil our fun … we had Chain Lightning.  And they loved it too.

Please share your favourite childhood game in the comments below.  Do you play it with your own kids? If you cannot find it available in stores these days, take a look at Darwin’s Game Closet… you never know what you might find there!

Summer Memories Keepsake… A FREE Printable For You!

Summer Letter - Text Font 2 TEAL for BlogWell, the last night of summer is fast approaching, and I’m feeling sentimental about the end of another summer with my kids.  While I was thinking about all this last week, I got an idea that I am happy to share with all of you.  This little idea is not based on a family tradition, but is a new idea that I will be trying in my home on the last night of summer.  I thought you might like it too!

So, when my three children crawl into bed on that last exciting night before starting a new school year, I am planning for them to find an envelope on their pillows.  Each envelope will contain a letter just like the one you see in the image above in which I have written what I liked, what I loved, and what I will always remember sharing with each of them over this past two months.

I am hoping that this will send them to sleep with sweet dreams of the fun we have shared, and help them to remember what a full and joyful time this summer has been for all of us.  I am so excited that this will come as a surprise for them… we can never get enough surprises! But most of all, my heart is smiling at the idea of taking time to remember these wonderful experiences and feel a sense of gratitude for all of it before the crazy pace of school, homework, lessons, and clubs commences again for the fall.

I know this little letter will make each of my kids feel treasured, and hopefully help them fall asleep Monday night with a big heart full of gratitude and joy.



Just enter your details in the bar at the top of this page and click “Send Now”,  then check your inbox for your own template to customize for your kids.
Don’t let this opportunity get away from you!!


Quick Announcement & A Favor…

I am VERY close to finishing my long-awaited Ebook, “50 Amazing Ways To Steal Time With Your Kids – A Parent’s Journal”.

I have spent much of this past year thinking about and creating this collection of 50 unique and diverse ideas to share with you, but I am finally about to wrap it up.  I will be releasing this book in late September.

This book was designed to cover a vast spectrum of ideas.  Most of them can be fit into an ordinary day with just a bit of planning, while a few of the ideas span a full day or a weekend.  Likewise, many of the ideas are absolutely free, others are a bigger investment, and the rest fall somewhere in between.  Each idea is presented on a page with space available for you to journalize your experience with your child, creating a keepsake for both of you to enjoy.  We even offer the book in an editable format, enabling you to journalize directly into your ebook.

HOWEVER, I need your help. Before I finalize everything, I want to make sure I have addressed this important consideration to make sure this book is as useful to busy families as it can possibly be.

This is where YOU come in.  Please take a moment to click on the title at the top of this post and then  answer the following question in the comment section…

What are the top two obstacles you face when
trying to get the 1-on-1 time you desire with your children?

(Tip:  If you don’t see the comment section below, you just need to click on the title of this post and you will arrive at the page where this post’s comment section is provided.)

My BEST Tips for Back to School Shopping

I just had the BEST, BEST day with my 6 year old.  She’s about to head into Grade 1, and we hit the mall for some back to school shopping together.

Do you look forward to back to school shopping or is it something you dread as the school year approaches?

I love shopping for anything or anyone, but I’ve learned that shopping with 3 kids can be a challenge… each waiting for the other to try on different items.  Eventually the boredom sets in and it’s hairy-scary times!

However, over the last few years I have devised a plan that makes the back to school shopping (or in fact seasonal shopping any time of the year) a really terrific time that all my kids and I look forward to… and it’s super easy to deliver. [Read more...]

Crafting Mania: Day 1 Report

Well , the day after my call to crafting mania following my family’s return from their 4 day camping trip, we got up to a great deal of fun.  Here is the report to share what each of the kids did with their crafting cupboard finds…

All 3 of the kids got into the fun of creating paper ninja puppets using a kit they had received from my sister some time ago.  Since all of my kids are involved in martial arts, this was an especially fun activity.  Each of them created two paper ninjas, and while they were at it we joked and hammed it up pretending the puppets were able to do all kinds of techniques that the kids themselves do.  It was so much fun!

Ninja puppets


cherry blossom paintingThen my daughter Ceili got onto Pinterest for the first time.  I set up her own board called “Ceili’s Craft Projects” on my Simply Fun Families Pinterest Profile, and allowed her to pin any arts and crafts that caught her interest.  She LOVED it, and was very inspired to get crafting with one of the techniques she had discovered.

Here is her beautiful acrylic painting of a Cherry Blossom Branch along with the quote “May the wilderness inspire you” written in Japanese (which she looked up online to translate from English).
Have you spent any lazy home days this summer crafting with the kids?

Please share some of your favourite crafting ideas with us below.



Craft Room & Office Reorg Leads to Crazy Crafting Mania!!!

Crafting Cupboard OrganizedMy hubby and kids recently went on their annual Algonquin camping trip.  This is really hard core camping… drive for 3 hours and park your car, unload ALL the food and drink and toiletries and clothes you will need for 4 days, pack it all plus the kids into canoes, canoe for a couple hours, portage over a 1km hike with all your goods, canoe again to your campsite of choice, set up shop there, and … enjoy?????

Okay, I did this sort of “roughing it” camping with my hubby many times before kids, and even 2 or 3 times with our young children, but I surrendered last summer.  I wish I could be an “I love doing everything you love doing” kind of mama, but I am a cottage kind of girl, not a “roughing it for days on end amongst the bears” kind of girl.  I wrestled with this for months on end as last summer’s camping trip approached and finally realized two things:

  1. It’s okay (actually it’s downright great stuff!!) for the kids to have something special they share with dad.
  2. The whole gang will have a better camping trip without me there feeling sleepless, nervous, and fussing over how every little thing is done out in the wild.

So what’s a mom to do with 4 days all to herself in her own home?   [Read more...]