Monday, April 25, 2016

International TableTop Day


The International TableTop Day is coming on April 30th, 2016. And to celebrate this many places will have fun little tournaments in their stores. 

We will be participating to our first International TableTop Day by participating to our first ever Ticket to Ride Tournament which is held in one of the Mrs Tiggy Winkles stores in Ottawa.

We think it will be a great opportunity to meet other Board Game lovers, play together and have fun at the same time.  The four kids are looking forward to this event and have been talking about it since we registered about a month ago.

Apparently there will be 20 participants to this tournament.   We have been practicing with our board game as well as with the app version.   We are looking forward for a fun day at Mrs Tiggy Winkles on Saturday.

Ticket To Ride is game that is so quick to learn and so fun to play! You can check out a game in action in this episode of TableTop

Another tournament of Munchkin is also happening at the Westboro Village store on the same day.

Unfortunately both tournament are full at this point in time.   I think there will be event throughout the city at various places –whether comic book stores or gaming stores.  Check your local store to learn what they are doing.   Another suggestion would be to make your own tabletop event at home with your family.  Take out a board game and play with your kids.    Start a new tradition of playing board games on a weekly basis with them.   Build memories.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Creatures Great and Small Boutique


DK Canada is having a wonderful boutique for all creatures great and small.   From the tiny insect to the biggest animal on the planet, DK Canada has the book to spike the interest of your child in discovering everything about animals.  


Smithsonian Wildlife of the World

Wildlife of the World takes you on a journey through some of the most scenic and rich animal habitats — from the Amazon rain forests to the Himalayas, the Sahara to the South Pole — meeting the most important animals in each ecosystem along the way.

In Wildlife of the World truly spectacular portrait-style photography brings you "face-to-face" with individual animals in up-close and engrossing profiles on how the animals interact with their environments, mate, survive, and even play.

From the shaggy musk ox foraging in the Canadian high arctic to the angered Scottish wildcat prowling the Highlands to the rock-climbing gelada monkey of Ethiopia, each animal featured in Wildlife of the World plays a key role in its environment. An additional eighty-page illustrated reference section on the animal kingdom explains the animal groups and profiles additional species.

This book is impressive by the quantity and quality of the information within the pages.   The information in this book is divided into eight sections:

Animal habitats: forest, grasslands, extreme environments, aquatic environments.

North America: peaks and prairies, Canadian arctic, Yellowstone, central great plains, Sierra Nevada, Mojave desert, Florida Everglades.

Central and South America: land of the jaguar, Costa Rican rainforest, Andean Yungas, Amazon rainforests, the Pantanal, Andean altiplano, Argentine pampas, Galapagos islands.

Europe: plains and peninsulas, Norwegian fjords, Scottish highlands, the Camargue, Tagus valley, the Alps, Bavarian forest.

Africa: a sunbaked land, Ethiopian highlands, great rift valley lakes, Serengeti savannas, Congo basin, Okavango delta, Kalahari desert, Madagascan dry forest.

Asia: land of extremes, Arabian highlands, Terai-Duar savannas, Eastern Himalayas, upper Yangtze forests, Gobi desert, Nihonkai Montane forests, Bornean rainforests, Sulu-Sulawesi seas.

Australasia: the red continent, New Guinea Montane forest, North Australia savannas, great Sandy-Tanami desert, East Australian forests, great barrier reef, New Zealand mixed forests.

Antarctica: land of ice and snow, southern ocean islands, Antarctic peninsula.

Already I have plenty of use for this book.   The Olympics being in Rio this summer I will discover the animals of the Amazon rainforest with the kids.  I also plan to use this book next year for our Oceania unit with our homeschool coop.   I will also direct our readings toward the China habitats since we covered this region as part of our coop last year.

The pages are packed with stunning photos and informative data on the animals found throughout the world.   The fact that it is divided into regions of the world is interesting because you can tie the reading of the pages with your study in geography.   It is always nice to have a book that is a bit different than other ones you might have and this book is definitively unique by the fact that the information is classified based on a specific habitat found somewhere on a specific continent.   I really think this is a great book to own in your personal library.

Smithsonian Eyewitness Explorer Bird Watcher

In Eyewitness Explorers: Bird Watcher, young bird lovers can discover all they need to know about these winged wonders. In the book you will find over 30 hands on activities that allow budding ornithologists to build a birdfeeder, make a nest box, birdbath, and bird garden; plus uncover tracks and trails, study nests, explore different kinds of bird feathers and eggs, and learn migration patterns.

This book encourage hands-on learning with 30 easy activities that help children observe, explore, and learn about the natural world. The book explains the science behind the activities, laying the essential groundwork for contextualizing the experience to come. But at the heart of the books are the activities themselves — a chance to learn by doing with experiments that can be carried out right at home. Most can even be completed with materials already on hand, so there's no complicated preparation or specialized equipment needed. Simply choose one of the projects and follow the step-by-step photographically illustrated instructions.  It will be really simple to do with your kids.  Besides, in the end you will have the opportunity to observe fabulous creatures – the birds.


I truly believe that bird watching is an activity that can be enjoyed by every one in a family.   Once you learn more about birds, you will enjoy the observations even more as you try to identify the birds.   Then you can venture your family in the forest or fields around your house in order to see which birds live in your area.  Bird watching is a great homeschool activity that can be done throughout the year.

Smithsonian Everything you need to know about birds

Have you ever wondered how birds fly or what's inside an egg? You can find out the answers to these questions and more in Everything You Need to Know About Birds.

From nocturnal owls to flightless penguins, learn about the different evolution and habitats of birds from around the world. Discover how almost everything about a bird's anatomy is designed for flight, yet how its skeleton is also similar to that of a human. See how golden eagles are used for fox hunting in Kazakhstan, and try to find the differences and similarities between an ostrich and the dinosaur Eoraptor.  This book is definitively packed with information about different types of birds all across the world, their habitats, breeding habits, anatomy, and oddities. You will also read about shocking trivia.  The book is perfect to learn more about everything that is bird related.   For example through the pages of this book you will discover the different types of birds that hunt, dive, swim, run, and dig, including vultures, crows, parrots, chickens, and more. 


The book contains numerous close-ups, an engaging text, as well as an innovative, high-quality design.   It could be the tool to have for in-depth research or a quick dip for fast facts on these amazing creatures that fly above our heads. 

 Smithsonian Super Bug Encyclopedia

Following on the success of Super Nature Encyclopedia and Super Human Encyclopedia comes Super Bug Encyclopedia — a look at the 100 most amazing insects on the planet!

Using macro photography and brand-new CGI artworks, Super Bug zooms right in to reveal the secrets of the most successful creatures on our planet. With incredible facts and stats for every bug, Super Bug showcases the superstars of the insect world. Find out which insect can snap a pencil in half, how a tiny moth can fly up to 70 miles an hour, and meet a dung beetle that can pull over 1,100 times its own body weight. Young readers will be wowed by what goes on inside the tiny world of ants, spiders, butterflies, moths, crickets, and other creepy crawlies.

Lively, informative, easy-to-access text based on the latest discoveries and scientific research showcases incredible feats of endurance, defense, strength, and speed while graphic, dashboard-style panels provides information at a glance.  You will be able to visualized with incredible 3-D models with cross-sections and strip layers.  It is the perfect book to explore every essential detail of the world of insects.


The book is divided into five sections: Amazing Anatomy, Animal Athletes, Fearsome Hunters, Tiny Terrors, and Life Stories.   Each of these sections will highlight a specific bug that can be found around the world.  For example, on the two pages about the emperor scorpion you will get a quick overview of the bug, see its cross-section with advance graphic, meet its deadly relative, learn  more about it and get all the stats and facts on the bug.   Did you know that a female scorpion may give birth to as many as 100 live young and that she will carry them on her back.   Impressive!  If your child desire to learn more about bugs, this is definitively a book to discover with him or her.

If these titles do not grab your interest or if you are looking for something more specific, head over to the Creatures Great & Small Boutique at DK Canada to discover other titles like The Bee Book or Everything You Need to Know About Sharks for example.   All the titles I have seen in the boutique would make a great addition for your personal library when you homeschool or for a quick reference for a school project.

Each of these four books can be found at your favorite bookstore, even on and





Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for allowing me to promote this book. I was not monetarily compensated for this post . Please note that the post was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Our experience at the Capital Gaming Expo

This past week-end we visited our local sports center but a totally different reason that you might think of.  Our kids are not doing hockey or figure skating and besides our swimming lessons are usually on Wednesday afternoon.  No.  The main reason why we headed toward the Nepean Sportsplex was that the Geek Market and the Capital Gaming Expo was happening this week-end.  Here’s a bit more about our experience with the Capital Gaming Expo.


FRIDAY – April 8

The Capital Gaming Expo was opening on Friday.  So we decided to go at 4pm to get our bracelet and so on.   We find it was a bit disorganized at the tables.  First of all there was two entrance for the events – one for the Geek Market and one for the Capital Gaming Expo.   We had won tickets for the Capital Gaming Expo but not knowing where to go at first, we initially entered the Geek Market area first.  There they gave us the wrong bracelets even though our ticket was the Capital Gaming Expo.   So when we tried to go to the other area, we were stopped due to the wrong bracelet identification.  After some clarifying, we finally got the right bracelets for the week-end.   I also experience a bit of an issue for my media pass but in the end it got resolved after I was brought to the proper table.  By the way the kids ages 12 and under were free so that was bonus for us.  

Nevertheless, we checked out the Geek Market a bit and immediately the table that grabbed my kids attention was the one with numerous Lego display.   It was very interesting to see the creativity of adults who enjoys Lego.


Next, we finally entered the Capital Gaming Expo.   Our goal for our first time participating such an event was to learn more games by playing them.  It was under our understanding that there would be demos and such during the week-end.  Well after talking to someone at the game libraryimage where you can borrow a game to play on one of the table, we discovered that some of the guys there can show us how to play by giving us a quick lesson of the rules.   Okay.   So bottom line, someone was there to help if needed and you could read the rules to learn the game.  It wasn’t really what we had in mind but we could manage.  However, the person who was assigned to explain the game of Small World to us had not played it in ages apparently and didn’t seem very confident in explaining it to us.   So after checking the time – by then it was supper time for us – we decided to go back home to eat and come back the next morning for the opening.  It made more sense to us to take the time to learn it with videos from YouTube before taking the game and playing with it.   That’s what we did.

SATURDAY – April 9

IMG_1310After some food and a good study on how to play Small  World by Days of Wonders, we were ready for some good time with the family at the Capital Gaming Expo. 

In Small World, players vie for conquest and control of a world that is simply too small to accommodate them all.  The game is designed by Philippe Keyaerts.  Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth.

It took us a bit of time to set up the game.   Usually the game is for 2-5 players and depending of the number of players you have you will have to select a different map which is included in the box.    The fact that we were six people around the table didn’t stopped us.  We decided to use the 4 players map and the 2 players map side by side and adapt the game a bit.   Mind you there is a map for 5-6 players that exists but you have to purchase it separately.  Besides the game library did not had it for loan. 

We had a great time discovering this game.  The art is fabulous, the characters and their powers are fun to play with and you can decide to put your troops out to pick another one.   Someone had mentioned to us that is was an easier version of Risk.  At first my husband was disappointed with this comment but after watching some videos on how to play the game he respectfully disagreed with the person who had told us that the previous evening.  The game has the idea of Risk when you need to conquer land but there are more strategy and twists in this game because of the powers that would change every time you play, the fact that you can put your race in a disappearing more and much more.

Everyone in our family from the youngest to the oldest enjoyed the game.   The game has taken a predominant place in our list of games to get. 


After playing this game, we needed to get out because we had some errands to do.  But before leaving, we checked out the various games we could play the next days and decided we would try the 7 Wonders game by

SUNDAY – April 10

Last day for the Capital Gaming Expo – our most busiest one at this.   Why?  WellIMG_1314 first we needed to check out how the game would play.  Thanks to YouTube we quickly learned this game.  Then it was time to go to church.  After we left church we immediately ate our lunch a bit in advance and drove to the Nepean Sportsplex in the hopes we would be able to play with 7 Wonders.  The game was available.

The game is divided in 3 ages. During each ages, you will have the opportunity to play 6 cards to develop the city you have been assigned and build your wonder.   If you need to purchase something you can only do it with your immediate neighbors.  At the end of each age, players compare their military strength with their neighbors on the left and right.   At the end of the third age, you score the points and the military conflicts in order to discover who won.

Our learning the game was moving along nicely thanks to the presence of a seven player – a young man who was nice to guide us in our discovery of this game.  



We all enjoyed the game pretty much.  As we were playing someone came to our table and asked if we would register to the 7 Wonders tournament which would start an hour later.  We were taken aback as we didn’t expected that.   After all this was our first game playing 7 Wonders.  Can we manage to play during the tournament?  Would it be friendly enough for the kids?   So we

Honestly before we signed up for the 7 Wonders tournament, there was only 6 people on the list. When I signed up our family then we were 12 people interested in playing.  Only eleven showed up for the tournament.   Considering the fact that we played the game only once before the tournament, I was a bit worry some about how the other players would be. But each players were very nice and took the time to encourage each member of the family in playing.   The tournament was quite simple, we played two games of 7 Wonders and the six stronger scores would move to another game of 7 Wonders with the 7 Wonders Leaders expansion.   This was the kids first time in participating to a tournament and it was a good experience for all of us.   The best part is that the kids were able to play with other people than us parents.   


After calculating the results of everyone, my husband discovered that he made it to the finals of the tournament.   So while dad was in the final of the tournament, the kids played with fun little video games nearby.


In the end my husband arrived fourth – tied with someone else – but he enjoyed being part of the finals.  We didn’t win anything but it was okay.  Well it’s not true.  During the first two games, one of our kids got the worse scoring point of all the players and for this they gave us a 5$ rebate when you order online at their store.  Okay.   And to top it all one of the guys approached us and invited us to a regular game night at Wizard Towers in our area.   On Tuesday nights he teaches about a game and have people playing it afterwards.   Looks really fun and we plan to swing by to check it out.

In retrospect, even if our Friday visit had a few loopholes, we had a great time at the Capital Gaming Expo.  We played two fabulous games which are now on our wish list, experience our first ever tournament (even though we were beginners) and made connections with people who enjoy board games.  This is something we would definitively enjoy doing again in the future if we can.

However, I would like to suggest a different type of pricing for the event.   As I mentioned, we are a family of six people – 2 adults, one age thirteen, one age twelve, one age ten and one age 8.   This time around three of our kids could go in for free.  But next year it would be a different story as we would have to pay for four.  The week-end price was 35$ per person in advance – 45$ at the door.   Do the math quickly with me…. that is 140$.   For that price we could easily get a few games from the online store where we usually order and get free shipping (when the order hit 150$).   So we could do more research on the games in order to determine if it would be a good fit for our family.   It could be a hit and miss too but we could always resale the game that we didn’t like.   Considering the price tag attached for a family of six people (because like it or not eventually the kids that are free now will grow up…) the cost to attend such an event for our family would eventually come to the whooping price of 210$.  Yikes!   So I would like to suggest to the organizers to have a family price for everyone in your family age 13 and older.  That way it would make it more affordable for bigger families who would like to spend time together to an even like the Capital Gaming Expo.   Not only you would help such families to save a bit of money but it could bring up some costumers as well who would visit the Geek Market and find a special item that they would like to obtain.

Having said that… we are looking forward for the next Geek and Gaming Garage Sales. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

ART a visual history

614HsjEMSKL._SX450_BO1,204,203,200_ - CopyART a visual history (previously published as Eyewitness Companion Art)
Published at DK Canada

About the book

Art: A Visual History is the complete visual guide to Western art, now updated and repackaged in a themed slipcase.

How to tell Impressionism from Expressionism, a Degas from a Monet, early Medieval art from early Christian? Art: A Visual History explains it all — painting, sculpture, great artists, styles, and schools — and will help you answer the question, "What makes great art?"

Art: A Visual History includes:

   • More than 650 artists and all the major schools and movements, all arranged chronologically.
   • Close-up focus on 22 masterpieces, from Ancient Greek sculpture to 1960s Pop Art.
   • Well-known icons along with lesser-known gems — carefully chosen to illuminate the points made in the text.
   • Features on major schools and movements to explore and explain their stylistic trademarks, characteristics, and favored subjects.

Art: A Visual History is a knowledgeable, thought-provoking, and accessible tour of the creators of Western art.

My Thoughts

We are currently in the midst of a unit on art with our homeschool coop.   The kids had spend the past two weeks learning about the lingo of art and creating fun things.    Last week, I was teaching about self-portrait and we learned about Albrecht Dürer who is considered the first artist to make a self-portrait.   He actually made four of them while growing up and his first one was at the age of 13 years.  Needless to say, I was very please to have the book ART a visual history to show the page on this artist to the kids.

The table of content is divided in different era:

  • Early Art  c. 30,000BCE – 1300CE
  • Gothic and Early Renaissance  C1300 – 1500
  • High Renaissance and Mannerism  C1500 – 1600
  • The Baroque Era C1600 - 1700
  • From Rococo to Neoclassicism C1700 - 1800
  • Romantic and Academic Art C1800 - 1900
  • Modernism C 1900 – 1970
  • Contemporary Art 1970 onward

In each of these sections gives techniques used during a specific era and will provide a timeline of the history as well.  You will be able to discover the artists who created art during that period of time and learn more about the media they used.  The book is packed with information on artist, samples of sculptures and paintings, information about specific historical influence, as well as a glossary.

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This book is very informative and will introduce anyone reading it to art during history.   However, if you have children at home – particularly growing boys near puberty age – I think that you should be aware that this book could be a source of issues when it comes to the unveiling of the body of women.   Numerous images will clearly show naked body part.   I find it essential to be aware of this and make sure that this do not cause issues in the long run.  For example, when I found my page on Albrecht Dürer, the opposite page was of a naked woman lying on the side.   Needless to say since I was teaching the older group of kids – ages 10 to 14 – I decided that it would be better for me to cover this painting while I was doing my presentation.   Not that I am ashame of my own personal body but to prevent issues on various level.   This was not appropriate in the context of our homeschool coop.

Art a visual history is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore, even on and


Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for allowing me to promote this book. I was not monetarily compensated for this post . Please note that the post was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.