Welcome! I am a mom to two wonderful kids and one lazy dog, and a wife to a great husband. Needless to say, there are a lot of daily messes to clean up around our house. Daily Messes is my blog to share ideas on things to do with your kids, snack and meal ideas, crafts, and holiday fun. I hope you find something to enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

MagiQuest Review

We did not go on a summer trip this year, so when we had a long weekend to spend together, we tried to come up with something fun and new to do. After doing some searching and planning, we finally decided on the Great Wolf Lodge's MagiQuest. We had seen this game several times throughout the years at various vacation spots, but always thought the boys were too young. I had several questions that I tried to find answers to, but found online information lacking. So, in the event that you decide to try MagiQuest, here are some of the things I wish I had known.

PREPARING AHEAD OF TIME, COSTUMES:
The MagiQuest shop can be overwhelming with the amount of things to buy. We had planned on just buying the wands and the game time, so I decided to make a few costume pieces. Now, I hate sewing and don't even own a sewing machine anymore, so the costumes were pretty simple. I used hot glue, felt, and paper towel rolls to make the costumes. I made a wand holder using the paper towel roll and felt. I couldn't find the measurements of the wands anywhere, so I guessed. Toilet paper rolls ended up too short and the thinner cardboard tube from the glow sticks container too thin. Bernardo wanted a felt-only wand holder, which was really easy to make. Bernardo reused a cape I made him for a school report. I made Higgins a wizard hat and he reused a cape from a Halloween vampire costume. TIP (Size of MagiQuest Wands): If you want to make your own wand holder, the brown and color wands are 14 inches long including the basic cap/top that comes with it and are about 1 inch wide. The dragon wand is a little longer, maybe about 14 1/4 inches long.
Making Wand Holders: Cardboard Tube Wand Holder: I added a piece of thin cardboard to the bottom of the tube with hot glue. I then cut out a piece of felt that would cover the roll with some overhang at the top and bottom. I used hot glue to glue the felt down, tucked in the felt at the top of the tube and folded and glued down the bottom. Finally, I glued a piece of felt on to create a belt loop. Felt Only: I cut a rectangle of felt, hot glued the bottom and sides together, and added a belt loop. Took about 10 minutes and the boys were happy.

BEGINNING YOUR JOURNEY, THE MAGIQUEST SHOP:
You begin by going to the MagiQuest shop. There are a lot of items for sale in the shop and different Quests to pick. You pick your wand, wand topper (optional), costume items (optional), and Quest. We didn't want to break the bank, so we went with the basic brown wands for the boys and the basic MagiQuest.
MagiQuest Costs can add up quickly. For the two kids to play basic MagicQuest with the basic brown wands it was $59.96+tax*. (*As of July 2016 at the branch we went to.) It did cover a 4 day period of play, of which we (aka hubby and I) could only handle 3.
  • The basic brown wand is $15.99.
  • Color wands are $17.99.
  • Dragon wands are the most showy and most expensive at $21.99.
  • The basic MagiQuest game is $13.99/person with a wand. It includes 1 MagiQuest book per player. This is the game the boys played.
  • There are also the Shadow Quest ($13.99) and Compass Quest ($14.99) game options.
  • There are wand toppers, which customize your wand. We didn't do the additional toppers, but they did have some really fun looking ones. While walking around, I saw several that lit up. They were $17.99.
  • Costume pieces did not have prices marked. I finally asked about prices and was glad I had just made my own. The wand holder/belt was $15 and had a pouch for the book. There are a few different capes, but the cheapest started at $9.99.

GAME TIME:
After you've emptied your wallet, grab your wand and MagiQuest book, and head to the Quest trees to pick your Quest or Adventure. This is where we got a little confused. You need to start with a Quest. Complete the Quests to collect different Runes.  The Adventures then require various Runes that you received by completing Quests. You do not need to complete all of the Quests before playing an Adventure, as long as you have the Runes needed for your chosen Adventure. However, you do need to head back to the trees and select the Adventure before trying to complete it (i.e. fight the Dragon or Goblin King or saving the Pixies). We thought if we had the needed Runes, we could just play, but we were wrong. After selecting your Quest or Adventure, the Tree's magi will tell you a poem with some clues to help you begin your journey. The MagiQuest book will also have the poem, as well as more detailed clues.

The decorated hallways and MagiQuest items are pretty fun. There are lots of things to wave your wand at: pictures, chests, decorations, stations. Even if your Quest or Adventure doesn't need a specific item, try waving your wand at it anyway. Some of the items will give you "gold", which you need for some of the Quests. You can visit the same items to receive gold multiple times.

The Quests and Adventures will lead you all over the hotel, up and down floors and hallways. Most of the items were easy enough to complete, however we did run into a few problems. A few of the chests were broken and would not open. The sound was also not working on one, but luckily we could work around it. One Quest included a 30 second time limit that had kids running across the hotel to finish. The boys found the chest, but the next station said they had timed out. It was a little frustrating. We finally went back to the shop and the employees said that the chest they had to find was broken. They helped the boys and just added it on as "completed" to their profile. The wands also stopped working several times each visit. We went to the shop and the employees removed the cap and blew into the battery compartment. For some reason, it worked and we used that trick many, many times.

Bernardo reads extremely well, so he had an easier time of the game. Being able to read helps tremendously. Higgins had problems reading it on his own and was frustrated. Some quest items had to be completed in a certain order, so reading is a pretty much a must.

Getting around can be a little challenging. The games are mostly on the 3rd and 4th floors of Great Wolf Lodge, although there are a few on the floor where the lobby is located (considered the 2nd floor).  You can use the center stairway or elevator for the 2nd and 3rd floors. The 4th floor is only able to be reached by the center elevator or by going down a hallway and using a different set of stairs. The elevators are generally in use and take a long time, so walking is the fastest way. The hallways can also provide some frustration, as there can be a fight for space between kids waving wands trying to complete items and hotel guests trying to get to and from their rooms.

CONCLUSION:
The boys had lots of fun, but I don't know that we would do it again anytime soon. There were plenty of younger teenagers/tweens that were running around doing just fine on their own. However, it's not something that can be easily done without reading. Having to read everything can be difficult or frustrating for younger kids. There is a lot of walking, which is good for wearing the kids out a little bit.

TIP SUMMARY:
  • You do not have to be a guest at Great Wolf Lodge to play MagiQuest. If you live close by, it might be easier to pick a time during the week, not during peak travel season or a holiday.
  • Give really little kids a pretend wand. As long as they're playing in a group, they probably won't know the difference and it will save you some money.
  • Keep your wand. You can reuse at another date as long as you pay for another game. It could also be used for a wizard Halloween costume!
  • Make or bring your own costumes. Size of MagiQuest Wands: The brown and color wands are 14 inches long including the basic cap that comes it and are about 1 inch wide. The dragon wand is a little longer, maybe about 14 1/4 inches long. The MagiQuest book is about 6"x4.5" if you wanted to make a pouch for their belts or satchels for their wrists.The boys didn't use their wand holders very often since most of the time they were holding their wands to complete items.
  • Wands can be temperamental. The MagiQuest employees recommended unscrewing the cap and blowing into the battery chamber. It works and we had to do it many times.
  • The Pixie Adventure usually did not have a line. Even though the boys would have preferred doing the Goblin King and the Dragon Adventures, we took a break from those and did the Pixie Adventure. The Goblin King and Dragon share a station, so there was always a long line to play. 
  • Play with your kids, especially if they are younger. There is a lot of reading and waiting in lines. Higgins will not say anything if someone cuts in front of him, so if we hadn't been there, he never would have gotten to finish the Adventures.
  • If stuck, ask the MagiQuest shop employees. They were extremely nice when we went in with questions or problems. 
  • There is a lot of walking so you may want to wear gym shoes.


Back To School Word Find

I can't believe it's already Back To School time! Here is a school themed word find to celebrate.


HINT: Punctuation and spaces are removed from words in the puzzle. (To Print: Click on image of word find. Right click. Choose Open In New Tab/Window. Click Print. Or, click on image, right click, choose Save Image As.) Answers are below.


































STOP! ANSWERS BELOW!



Friday, July 1, 2016

4th of July Ideas

If you are looking for 4th of July ideas, check out these posts:
Craft/Activities:

Food:
  • Dessert: 
    • Jello:  
    •  Pie & Jars (Use Star cut-outs for the top of the pies)
    • Swirl Cookies: I made red and white for Christmas, but if you broke the batter into thirds and colored 1/3 blue/red/white, it would make a great 4th of July cookie! 
    • Hidden Surprise Pound Cake (Use a Star cut out instead of the Shamrock)
    • Peanut Butter Cherrios Balls 
    • Dessert Pizza  (Super easy to make! Use white chocolate and/or red & blue candy melts to make more patriotic.)
    • Frozen Bananas (Dip in white chocolate with red and blue sprinkles!)
    • Rainbow Cupcakes (Divide batter into 3 bowls, color 1 white, 1 red, 1 blue.)
    • Fortune Cookies (Make a mix of red, white, and blue.)
    • Stained Glass Cookies (Use red, white, blue candies.)
    • Ice Cream Sandwiches 
    • Caramels  (While it's harder to change the color of the caramels, you can easily dress them for the 4th of July by wrapping them and tying them closed with red/white/blue ribbons.)
    •  Candied Popcorn(Separate popcorn into 3 batches. Color each batch with red, blue, or white candy melts. Let dry and then mix together!)
  • Drinks:

The above are my tried and true things that we have done in the past. There are so may ideas out there for 4th of July parties that would be fun to try! For example:
  • Watermelon "cake". Cut and tier watermelon slices like a tiered cake. Decorate with other red/white/blue fruits!
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries. Dip in white chocolate with red/blue drizzles, or in milk/dark chocolate with red/white/blue drizzles. My boys like sprinkles on theirs too!
  • Layered Red/White/Blue Drinks 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

4th of July Word Find

I keep losing track of time. How is it the 4th of July on Monday?! Here is a 4th of July themed word find. Higgins likes word finds, but has trouble with finding words diagonal and backwards. There is another word find below (in red) that only goes Forward and Down.







To Print: Right Click-Open image in new tab-Print or Ctrl-P. Or Right Click-Save/Save Image As/Save to Computer-Open the saved image-Print.



ANSWER BELOW! 








ANSWER BELOW!



 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Camp Word Find

It's about that time of year...Summer Camp!


To Print: Right Click-Open image in new tab-Print or Ctrl-P. Or Right Click-Save/Save Image As/Save to Computer-Open the saved image-Print.

 
Answers Below:




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Father's Day

Father's Day is soon! Where has June gone?! If you are like me this year and are drawing a blank on ideas, try some of mine below!

CRAFT/GIFTS:
  • 92 Father's Day Gift Ideas
  • Father's Day Frames (craft/gift)
  • Make a Can Planter and plant grass seed for the hair. You could even place a golf ball in the grass or glue to the side of the can. Make it an alien with only 1 flower bud sticking out (kind of like a tulip type of flower bud).
  • If he likes camping or having an outside fire, try making a batch of Pinecone Firestarters.
  • Home Depot had a free Kid's Workshop on 6/4 to make a Father's Day Trophy Phone Holder. If you missed it, check with the store since they often sell their kits or sometimes have left-overs.

FOOD: (These are just a few of the recipes on the blog. There are a lot more!)

ACTIVITIES:

FREEBIES:

  • Spaghetti Warehouse: Dad can get a free spaghetti or lasagna (per their Facebook post on 5/31/16).
  • First Watch: Free bottle of maple syrup (with meal purchase).
  • Outback: Not free, but frequently offers coupons online.
  • If you know of any other freebies for Dad, please share in Comments!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Summer Freebies & Reading Programs!

Don't forget to check out your local bookstores and libraries for summer reading programs. Most of them offer free prizes for the kids! I have links below for free Amazon Kindle books and Barnes and Noble Nook books in the DM TIPS!
  • Half Priced Books: Read 15 minutes a day and fill out the log (click on link). Once you reach 300 minutes in June, turn in your log and earn a HPB gift card! Last year the gift card was for $5. Repeat in July! (Ages Preschool to High School. Runs June & July)
  • Barnes & Noble: Read, fill out their reading log (click on link), and get a free book! It says it for grades 1-6, but just ask the booksellers regarding younger kids. They are usually very nice and will let younger kid participate. They let Higgins participate with his big brother! (Runs 5/17-9/6.)
  • Chuck E. Cheeses: If your child reads each day for 2 weeks and completes the calendar (click on link), they get 10 free tokens.
  • If your child has an account or opens a new account with TD Bank, they can earn $10 for their account when they read 10 books. (Grades K-5. Click on link for form. Runs until 8/31.)
  • Showcase Cinemas. After writing a book review, kids get a free movie ticket to a Bookworm Wednesday movie. Parents and siblings 6 and under are free. (See bottom of linked page for participating locations and book form. Runs 7/8-7/29.)
  • Library. Check with your local library. Most of them will have a summer reading program where kids can earn prizes!
DM Tips
  1. Check with Amazon.com for free kids Kindle ebooks for download. The Kindle reading app for the computer or ipad/phone is free too! Barnes & Noble also has free options and free Friday downloads for the Nook. (Nook app also free.)
  2. Check with local libraries or bookstores for storytimes. There are also free story times online! Some online story times: Barnes and Noble onlineStoryLineOnline. Many libraries also offer an online story time, often found under the kids section. Here is the Barnes & Noble Storytime In-Store link.
  3. Pottery Barn Kids. I couldn't find information on the old reading program, but they now have a Book Club which is a story time (listed under Store Events-Book Club.) Ask at the store for a passport, attend 5 story times, and get $10 off an item, plus use the minutes for your summer reading program logs! (Runs 6/7-8/18.) 


Other Summer Freebies (or at least cheap!):
  • Movies:
    • Regal Movie Theaters have $1 movies in the summer. (See link for schedule and to find a location near you.)
    • Many local movie theaters run free or $1 movies as well, so check with your local theaters.
    • Some local communities offer free Movie In The Park type of events during the summer. I find a lot of info by talking to other moms at the playgrounds/school, looking in the local paper at the weekend events, and by following the local communities on Facebook/Twitter.
    • See if there is a Drive-In movie theater near you. Some of them have kids under 12 free. Although, it won't be completely free, it can be a ton of fun and there are not a lot of them left. 
  • Free Bowling registered kids can receive free bowling in the summer! (click for details/locations)
  • Check out this site for a list of Good Report Card Freebies!
  • Fossil Collecting
    • You may have noticed that we (aka the boys) love going "fossil hunting". To find a fossil park near you, try these sites (National Park System: 260 Fossil Parks or NPS: Other Fossil Sites. However, I noticed there were not any listed in my area, and I know of two within an hour. If you can't find one listed, try searching for "fossil park" or "fossil collection area" in Google/Yahoo/etc.  
  •  Building Workshops
    • Both Lowe's and Home Depot offer free kids workshops during a weekend each month. Click the links to see when they are being offered.
  • Factory/Bakery Tours
    • Many places offer free (or really cheap) tours of their facilities. We have been to an ice cream shop and a chocolate factory already!
  • Farmer's Markets
    • Of course buying things aren't free, but it is free to go and see new things. My kids were amazed the first time we went to the Farmer's Market and a local farm to see where food really comes from. (Shockingly, it wasn't in plastic packages.) It's always fun to see what they have. There can also be fun vendors, like the portable wood fired pizza oven we saw last year. Click here to find one near you. 
  • Cook/Bake
    • My kids do like to "help" in the kitchen sometimes. One of the things I still remember the most from when I was a kid, was making rice cereal treats and chocolate chip cookies with my mom. I love when I can do it with my boys too!
  • Playgrounds/Parks
    • Almost every day (even in the winter), the boys ask if we can go to the park. I get tired of seeing the same thing, so we explore and find new parks.
    • Sometimes local parks offer free events during the summer too, especially around holidays like Memorial Day or 4th of July.
    • Many also offer free movies or concerts during the summer.
  • Picnic
    • If you pack a picnic from home and bring it to a park, it can make for a great (and free) adventure!
  • Museums/Zoos/Aquariums
    • Our local children's museum offers free admission on certain Fridays during the summer. Check out your local art/history/science/children's museums to see if they have free days. 
    • Sometimes other places like the zoo or aquariums will offer kids get in free days (with an adult ticket).
  • Crafts
    • My boys love craft time and we have spent a lot of time during summers past making new things. I have a lot of the ideas on this blog, and a lot of them are made from things you probably already have in your house!
    • Michael's offers $2 crafts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (Runs 6/16-8/1.)
  • Camping
    • I am not a big camper, although Hubby and the boys love it. However, I will camp in the living room! We even made s'mores over a candle one time. Have everyone tell a scary story, or even have a progressive story (these can be hilarious, especially with little kids).
  • Bass Pro Shop
    • Sometimes they offer fun activities and workshops for free. (Click the link for store locations. Once your locations opens, it should have Store Events listed, normally on the right side of the page.)
  • Garage Sale/Flea Market
    • This one isn't free, but can be pretty cheap. A couple of dollars and some negotiation can obtain a few new books or toys that can keep the kids busy for the day or hopefully even a few days. We've even found new video games for just a few dollars. As an added bonus, you can offer them extra chores to earn extra spending money. I think I have a mountain of socks that may need sorting and folding... :) Try garagesalecow.com, local newspapers or community Facebook pages to find garage sales near you.
  • Eat Out
    • Ok, this is not free. However, there are certain days when kids eat free at some restaurants. If you want to have a treat, but also have it be cost effective, this would be the way to go!
  • Junior Ranger Program
    • This is a free program at the national parks. You pick up an activity book and fill in the questions. Once the booklet is completed, you turn it in and the kids get to be sworn in as Junior Rangers and get a badge or patch! (Click here for more info.) If there aren't any national parks near you, they also offer an online option to earn the WebRanger badge.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Home Depot Father's Day Craft Saturday 6/4

Home Depot is having another free Kids Workshop on Saturday (June 4th) to make a Father's Day Trophy Phone Holder (click on link for details). It could be a cute gift to give to Dad on Father's Day! (Plus the kids get to keep their work aprons!)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chicken Stew

I was digging through some of my older recipes to try something "new". I remembered this one and how much hubby loved it. Hopefully, the boys will love it too.

Chicken Stew
DailyMesses.com

Cook Time 50-60 minutes. 4 servings.

You will need:

  • 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained (like Great Northern beans)
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, boneless/skinless, cubed
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 ground ginger
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • (1) 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt added kind), drained
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbpn golden raisins (optional)

Directions:

  1. Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Add chicken and cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Turn chicken once during cooking. 
  3. Remove chicken and set aside.
  4. Lower heat. Add the rest of the ingredients (not chicken). If you like your peppers a little crisp, leave out. 
  5. Bring to simmer, cook 2 minutes.
  6. Add chicken to the pot. 
  7. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. 
  8. Add the peppers in last 15 minutes, so they remain a little crisp.
  9. Enjoy!