Wii Review: Spiderman – Web of Shadows

Spiderman: Web of Shadows Review

Average Score: 3.71 out of 5
(Read about our scoring system for Wii games)

Don’t dismiss this game just yet – the reason for our lower score is only because of the low “family” aspect of the game. If you are looking for a great game for a boy who loves Spiderman, this is a perfect fit!

Fun Factor 5 out 5
While mom and sister weren’t too excited about the game, the 8 year old boy of the house was very much into it and played it for hours. I haven’t seen this kid play a game as much as he did Spiderman – Web of Shadows in ages. He REALLY loved this game!

Family/Group Factor – 2 out of 5
This is basically a one player game, and all the rest of the family could do was watch. However, my 6 year old daughter DID sit and watch her brother play with zero whining about wanting to play something too. She was perfectly happy to watch him play, thus the reason we did give this game a 2. I rarely see my youngest actually WATCH without wanting to join.

Too Easy or Too Hard – 4 out of 5
It only took my 8 year old a few minutes to figure out all the controls, then he was good to go with very few problems. Would a younger child figure them out so easily? I don’t know. Plus there is some needed reading skills to help you along with the missions, so this probably wouldn’t be the best for real little ones.

Activity Factor – 3 out of 5
While there wasn’t a whole lot of jumping around, my son did stand the majority of the time he played and did a few Spiderman-like moves (web slinging, for example). Just the simple fact that he was up and moving a little for a few hours earned this game a 3 in the activity factor.

Child Friendly – 4 out of 5
If you are a big fan of the Spiderman cartoons and have no qualms about cartoon violence, then this is a very child-friendly game. Should you mess up a bit, the game is good about not teasing for losing (while he was playing, I heard a character say “No problem, try again” or something similar in an upbeat voice). There is, however, fighting in Spiderman style.

Variety – 4 out of 5

Instead of the old fashion Mario games where you go from level to level, this game gives you missions to complete instead. I loved the set up and the ability to roam freely around the city.

Addiction – 4 out of 5

Since there was no frustration and it was overall a fun game for the boy, the addiction level was quite high. There’s the aspect of wanting to complete all your missions that keeps the kids wanting to play for so long.

Additional Comments

Overall this game is a perfect for one kid needing a personal game, but not so great if you are looking for something to do with the whole family. Since our whole drive at this site is to find games that work for everyone, we had no choice but to give it the lower score. Taking out the family factor you have yourself an excellent game for a die-hard Spiderman fan.

Buy Spider-Man: Web of Shadows at Amazon

Webkinz of the Month – April 2010

Even after 2 years, Webkinz is still pretty popular in our household. While the kids don’t play as often as they use to, they still get on to check their friends every once in awhile.

If your looking to get started or want to add to your collection, why not pick up the Pet of the Month and get some fun bonuses?

The Webkinz Pet of the Month for April 2010 is the Lion, which happens to be a retired pet. Not to worry! Amazon still offers this Webkinz and for about the same price as you’ll find any Webkinz pets.

Have fun playing with your Webkinz pets!

Goosebumps: The Ghost Next Door

It’s hard keeping track of all the Goosebumps books my 9yr old has read over the years. Seems like each week he’s reading 4 or 5 of them, and it’s amazing he hasn’t run out yet. Somehow, though, he always seems to find ones he hasn’t read.

This week from his stack he’s picked out The Ghost Next Door, which is about girl named Hannah who finds herself with a very interesting new neighbor – a ghost boy! He disappears and reappears with little warning, making hardly any noises. The house he lives in is all but deserted and he’s so pale. He’s got to be a ghost, right?

As with all the Goosebumps books, this is an excellent read and keeps you interested clear up until the end. Comes highly recommended from 9yr old Chase!

You can see more Goosebumps books as well as other books from R.L. Stine at Amazon

Blue Cheese, Mushrooms, and Eggplant

What a combination, eh? Well, it just so happens this is what’s sitting in our fridge right now and needs to be used.I feel like we’re in an episode of Chopped, and I’m totally caught off guard.

How we ended up with such a mismatched selection of foods I’ll never know. I guess this is what happens when you let the kids influence what you buy. Hey, at least they were asking for nutritious foods and not junk, right?

Not to fear though, I have a plan. Last week I picked up some frozen hamburger patties (hurray for being lazy), which will go well with the blue cheese and mushrooms. Actually, I’m going to make a sauce of sorts out of the blue cheese and slightly tweek this recipe for Potato Chips with Blue Cheese. Maybe substitute mushrooms for onions or something like that. Either way the blue cheese and mushrooms are going together, and on top of a burger.

As for the eggplant, it’s going to sit by itself as a side dish. Only seems natural, right? An easy Eggplant Parmesan will do, although I might fry it instead of bake. Make it just like my mom use to make fried zucchini when I was a kid, with Parmesan cheese and a light egg and flour breading. Yum.

How Much YOU Time Do You Get?

Don’t get me wrong, of course I love my family. It’s an internal law in my head that says I must, and I know should I lose them, they would be missed. However, we all have those days where we’re just climbing the walls and need OUT, if only for an hour or two without someone demanding something or feeling like we’re trapped in a mad house.

This is a topic I think a lot about, especially now since they boy is currently being homeschooled and the girl has nothing but me for a parent (a very long, sad, twisted story that I’d rather not make public). For years I couldn’t leave her even with relatives else she’s completely freak out, so for 7 years it’s been just me and her on the weekends. And now it’s just me and the boy every day until the girl comes home from school. Yes I have made the right choices for my children and don’t regret them one single bit, but if I don’t get out soon, I’m going to lose my mind.

Which brings up the question to all reading this – how my YOU time to you really get? I’m not talking about those sacred hours after bed time where you usually do nothing but pick up toys or just simply collect your thoughts after a hectic day (or crash, I’ve been known to do that a time or two). I’m also not talking about when the kids are in school and you run errands. I’m talking about real “get out and do something with friends or by yourself” time. Activities – for fun! – outside the house minus kids. Remember those?

Personally I can count the number of times I’ve been outside the house without kids. In the past 10 years I’ve seen 2 or 3 movies, been to 4 concerts, visited the local comedy club once, and spent a night out on the town with an old friend from high school (which also happened to be my 10 year class reunion last summer). Go ahead and do the math – it averages to about once a year.

If you don’t go out that often without your kids, what’s your excuse? Are you made to feel guilty by family and friends for leaving your kids with someone else? Do you get the “you and you alone should take care of your kids” speech? Is it lack of funds, time, energy, or interest? Will no one even take your children for a little while?

With all that said, I’m doing the unthinkable tonight. I’m going out. Yup, making my escape. Leaving my daughter with her grandmother and the boy with his dad, and heading up to the local blues bar for some live blues music and drinks with a friend. And no one is going to make me feel guilty about it. 😉

Wii Cheer 2 Review

Wii Cheer 2 Review

Average Score: 4.71 out of 5
(Read more about our scoring system)

The first We Cheer has always been one of our favorites. When the second one came out, we couldnt waite to get our hands on it. It did not disappoint, and is even better than the first. New songs, new moves, better levels, and new characters. This has become a fast addiction!

Buy We Cheer 2 at Amazon

Fun Factor – 5 out 5
As if the first one wasn’t fun enough, this one is even better. There’s some new moves and lots of new songs (quite a few that mom is in love with, actually). It’s even more addicting than the first one, that’s for sure.

Family/Group Factor – 4 out of 5
An improvement to the first We Cheer is they added boys to the squad. Even though my 9yr old son still isn’t quite interested in it, some boys might be. Not all the songs are “girly girl” songs, so they could get into it too. There’s also a 2 player option as in the first one, where you can cheer together using just 2 remotes.

Too Easy or Too Hard – 5 out of 5
Another improvement from the first We Cheer is they’ve added an “easy” level which you can work on and still unlock new songs. Instead of “hard” and “harder”, there’s now “beginner”, “intermediate”, and “advanced”. The little ones should have no problems getting past the beginner levels, but still a challenge for the advanced levels so it keeps you playing.

Activity Factor – 5 out of 5

At first I thought it was slightly less than the original We Cheer, but quickly found out this wasnt the case. It does get you moving and I was VERY sore the next day after playing this for just an hour.

Child Friendly – 4 out of 5
There’s still no voice in the second We Cheer, and you are forced to read some things on the screen. This could be a problem for younger ones wanting to play. Also some of the songs, while edited, you may have a problem with. Songs such as “Just Dance – Lady GaGa” and “Girlfriend – Aviral” may not be the best for little ones.

Variety – 5 out of 5
Another improvement in the second addition of our favorite game is the amount of variety. You have the ability to unlock songs faster, and start out with more than in the original. There’s also a new challenge area you get to unlock as you go up in rank.

Addiction – 5 out of 5
Several hours logged and we still have yet to “beat” the game. This is for sure addictive, and it’s hard to find a stopping point. I’ve heard myself saying “just one more song!” many times, even going back to my favorite songs and trying to beat my high scores even though I haven’t gotten through everything yet.

Additional Comments

As mentioned before, they’ve made a LOT of improvements to the first We Cheer, making this one of our new favorites. Even still we go back to the orignal once in awhile to play some of our favorite cheers, but this one has kept us well entertained. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Buy We Cheer 2 at Amazon

Recommended Reading: Dolores Claiborne

Dolores Claiborne

I’m sure there aren’t many who haven’t heard of Stephen King’s Dolores Claiborne. It was a pretty big hit, being made into a movie in the late 90s, which stared Kathy Bates. I have a tendency of watching the movie before I read the book, which seems to work well for me.

If you have seen the movie, you’ll know it’s about a woman (Dolores Claiborne), telling the story of how she plotted to have her husband killed, and the reasons why. While most movies from books don’t even come close to doing the book justice, this one wasn’t too bad. The series of events and specific lines even were kept in tact so you still got whole story. However, this IS a Stephen King book we’re talking about here. The book is ALWAYS worth a read.

What stands out in particular about the book Dolores Claiborne is the way it’s written. Leave it to Stephen King to really pull you in with his own unique style of writing. All the events and full story is being told by Dolores herself, with all her quirky sayings and interesting form of grammar. Hard to read? No. Interesting to read? Absolutely.

You can pick up Dolores Claiborne at Amazon

Gerald’s Game

If you do decide to read Dolores Claiborne (again, highly recommended, even if you’ve already seen the movie), you absolutely must read Gerald’s Game. It’s a parallel to Dolores Claiborne, in which you’ll find the “connection” to them both, even though Gerald’s Game is set some 20 years after Dolores kills her husband.

What I loved about this book, as with many of Stephen King’s book, is it starts out with “the main event”. This particular Stephen King novel was never made into a movie for good reason – the main character, Jessie, spends the majority of the book handcuffed to a bed with her dead husband on the floor.

Only Stephen King could write a book with only one real character, and her slide into insanity. Fun dialogue includes her talking to various voices in her head, and a few unexpected visitors into the bedroom. Very dark humor, but an EXCELLENT read.

You can pick up Gerald’s Game at Amazon as well.

Other Books by Stephen King

If your craving more twisted yet somehow entertaining horror, you can find all Stephen King Books at Amazon. I love how they have a nice layout of all his books, along with author bio and interviews. I don’t think there’s many who don’t know who Stephen King is, but it serves as a nice info page for fans.

Amazon is highly recommended if your looking to buy books of any kind, since this is their main focus and there’s several buying options to chose from. The prices are excellent and service fantastic as well.

Enjoy!

Love Coupons and Deals?

My best friend loves to talk about sales and coupons. What’s more, she absolutely loves to share all the great deals she finds. It was only a matter of time before she started a website about it!

Since I’m so proud of her and excited she finally got this going, I just had to share. While it’s mostly geared towards deals and special in central Iowa, you might still find this site useful for your local area (such as deals from Target and Walgreens).

Highly recommend you check out her site ASAP! See: IowaCouponChic.com

We Made Sourdough Bread!

It was a week or so in the making, but we did it. Right down to the starter itself, we made it!

The starter wasn’t nearly as complicated as I would have thought. Just a cup of flour and a cup of water in a plastic container, and we were set. After that it just needed to be “fed” every day for the next few days. (This site has some excellent details on how to start your sourdough starter, how to feed it, and what to do with it later on).

I did cheat a bit and used a different bread recipe, one a little less complicated from where we got our starter instructions from. One that just said “use a starter”, which we had. I pulled the recipes from this site, which had more than just bread. Here’s the one we used, in the bread machine, and baked:

1 1/2 cups sourdough starter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons lukewarm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 cups bread flour or regular flour

We baked at 400* for 25mins or so, using a mini loaf stone pan from Pampered Chef. (I was dying to use this, and finally did!) Made 4 mini loafs. YUM!

Now that we know how to make the starter and can keep it around for awhile, it’s got me wanting to make some more recipes I spotted on the recipe page. Plus maybe try out a recipe or two I have just for the bread machine. (Don’t have a bread machine? Here’s why you need one)

Happy baking!

Goosebumps Books – Monster Blood

Another one of 9-yr-old Chase’s favorite series within a series is the Monster Blood books. It’s about just what you’d think it would be – monster blood! There’s 4 books in the original series, plus another added in the Horrorland series just recently. You can find the books as follows at Amazon:

Monster Blood (Classic Goosebumps)
Monster Blood II
Monster Blood III
Monster Blood IV
Monster Blood for Breakfast! (Goosebumps HorrorLand)

The five books above are sure to keep young readers that need a good spooky book interested for awhile. Even several months later, Chase can still tell you what the whole series was about and how awesome the ending was. Most Goosebumps books also have snips of the next book in the back, making them want to go out and seek the next in the series.

Be watching for more of our favorite Goosebumps books coming up!