10 Life Lessons From My Neighbor Totoro

Fellow, parents, if you haven’t watched the movie My Neighbor Totoro from Studio Ghibli with your kids yet, its time to pop some popcorn, snuggle under a warm blanket, and give this one a go!

My Neighbor Totoro is an anime style movie about a small family in rural Japan. The main characters are sisters. Two little girls named Satsuki and Mei.

While coping with their mother being in the hospital, and moving to a new place, the girls befriend a forest spirit they call Totoro.

What Studio Ghibli does well, in all their movies, is to make a film that children will genuinely enjoy. A film that will make them both belly laugh and feel invested in the story. And, at the very same time, create something that is so serene and so beautiful that parents can enjoy watching it too.

Totoro is more than a story, it is overflowing with allegory that highlights some of life’s most important lessons.

Here are my favorite:

  1. When you’re scared, being silly sometimes helps! Whether its yelling at bedbugs or laughing at a storm, Satsuki, Mei, and their father, find ways to lighten the mood when things get dark.
  2. Have an adventure-go play outside. One of the most beautiful parts of this movie are the scenes of rural Japan: rolling meadows, lush forests. The girls play outside a lot, exploring their new surroundings. They show just how fun it can be to get in the dirt and crawl around!
  3. Its okay to ask for help. The family’s neighbors create a warm sense of community, where everyone is there for each other. Wouldn’t it be great if every place was like that?
  4. Its also okay to cry. Satsuki, as the older sister, is so brave throughout the film, helping her family and keeping a positive attitude about her mother’s illness. But after a scare at the hospital, she breaks down and sobs in the arms of her neighbor Nanny. You can feel the dam break as all the pent up emotion comes flooding out. Its a beautiful display of strength.
  5. Let your imagination run wild! When the girls claim to see Totoro, their dad plays right along. He gives them space to create and imagine. Even joining in the exploration! Whether Totoro is real or not, their dad is there to be a part of their world with them.
  6. Kindness is always the answer. Umbrellas=little random acts of kindness. The characters all sharing their umbrellas show kids that kindness is a great way to make new friends!
  7. Be curious. If Mei hadn’t followed the small Totoro, they would have never had their amazing adventure! To be clear, wondering into the woods alone should be discouraged. However, the curious nature of a child should always be nurtured!
  8. Family are the people who are there for you. The character of Nanny, an older woman who helps take care of the girls, starts off as a little scary to young Mei. But over time, this woman becomes a part of their family. Someone they could go to for help and support and who genuinely cared when they really needed that motherly figure in their life. If you have friends like this, you are very blessed!
  9. Love is in the little things. Making breakfast for your family… waiting at a bus stop… an ear of corn. Its the little things that add up that make people feel loved.
  10. When someone is sad, and you don’t know what to say, just being present in the moment is enough. Totoro has no lines. Yet, he was a source of comfort and strength to the sisters while going through a tough time. He was a good friend, without even saying a word. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a friend is sit down beside them and share a branch.

Before you go looking for a dubbed version, we watched Totoro for the first time with our 6 year old with subtitles. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but we generally prefer subtitles when watching foreign films, so we thought we’d give it a shot.

My husband did the dad’s voice, I did Satsuki and Nanny, and my daughter did Mei. It was actually really fun, we laughed a lot, and it was great reading practice too!

Enjoy your next family movie night!

“Everybody, try laughing. Then whatever scares you will go away!”-My Neighbor Totoro

Co-Op PC Games for Couples: Start a LAN Party with the One you Love

Its true that couples who have hobbies and interests in common tend to be pretty happy.

You enjoy spending time together, bonding over your shared passion.

And, what better time to talk about “lighting the fire of passion” than right before Valentines Day!

If you are here, its probably because, like me and my significant other, you are passionate gamers!

Whether you’re looking to play video games together for the first time, or you are a seasoned gamer couple looking for a new purchase to shake things up, I’m here to help.

This list is going to focus exclusively on Co-Op games.

These are games where the players are working together towards a common goal. As Dungeons and Dragons players, we are huge fans of Co-Op games. I find that they work as sort of a team building exercise, allowing you to practice problem solving skills and relish in victory together!

I have broken this list down into several categories because there are a lot of different styles of games that fall under the umbrella of “Co-Op”. Some games can fall under more than one category, of course, but I tried to keep true to the general feel of each game.

Whatever your combined gaming style, I guarantee there is a game out there for every couple!

So lets get started!

MMO

An MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) game is… well basically that! It is played online in an open world format. Thousands of people can be on the server at any given time, and you can group up to do quests or raids or just run around and explore. There are small story lines, as well as a general, over-arching theme in the world, but you have a lot of freedom to do what you would like.

Recommendations:

DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online)

This is a Dungeons and Dragons themed MMO that has been around for a very long time. Because of this, you don’t need the latest and best graphics card to play it, which makes it a great option for beginners. And they are still coming out with new content!

The story lines are fantastic and the classes/races and builds are all based on the pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons game. If you are looking to scratch that itch because you can’t get together for a regular DnD session with friends, this game is the perfect opportunity to explore the worlds of Ebberon and Forgotten Realms with the one you love.

Star Wars the Old Republic

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1286830/STAR_WARS_The_Old_Republic/

While this game has also been around for a while, the return of Star Wars to mainstream media with The Mandalorian may mean its time to give this one a go!

While I’m not a fan of some of their new content (why would you put so much single player content into an MMO?? Just make a separate single player game!), their original story lines from levels 1-50 are absolutely classic.

You can play dark side or light side and you can be one of 4 unique classes in each! Each class has its own story line that takes them around the galaxy. The story lines are so good, its worth playing through each one!

Every world also has its own story arch that you and your partner can do together.

It is strongly story driven in that the decisions you make as a character effect what happens next, which I really love.

Survival

If you are looking for something a little more “intimate”, a survival game may be just the thing!

In a survival game, you and your partner are working to build, gather resources, and fend off attackers as you fight to survive under extraordinary circumstances.

These games work well because there is usually an allocation of responsibilities as you play, which means you can just focus on the part of the game you like, and your partner can focus on the part they like, but you are both still working towards the same goal.

Recommendations:

Raft

https://store.steampowered.com/app/648800/Raft/

In this survival game you guys are… you guessed it… on a raft. You must travel around a world almost completely covered by ocean and inhabited by carnivorous animals, to find resources to eat, drink, and build onto your raft. As you explore and find islands, you begin to find clues about why the world is in its current state and hints of a secret place of safety.

I love that this game has just enough story to make you want to learn more.

You are also, literally, stuck together, so no one can go and wonder off on their own. You have to work together, for better or worse!

Also, watch out for sharks.

Conan Exiles

https://store.steampowered.com/app/440900/Conan_Exiles/

The only negative thing I can say about Conan Exiles is that I wish there was more of it.

The developers are coming out with new content all the time, so it is a game that just keeps getting better.

It is based on Conan the Barbarian (and yes, you get to actually meet him).

You start off the game with absolutely nothing. Like, for real, you are butt naked in a desert. So, it is a very… interesting… way to start.

Building bases and exploring the different biomes are both equally fun. The drastic change from biome to biome keeps the game fresh and engaging. And there are some really fun Boss Battles to be had.

The recent addition of pets has made the game increasingly interesting, but I look forward to playing again with more magic options as well as mounts for faster transportation.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed many hours of entertainment and I feel we got our moneys worth.

Turn-Based

Turn-based games are games where combat is slowed down and each player and enemy take turns, one action at a time, until combat is resolved.

It is a more relaxing option for those couples who are looking to take things slow or for gamers who are easily overwhelmed and find themselves spamming keys hoping for the best!

Divinity Original Sin 2

https://store.steampowered.com/app/435150/Divinity_Original_Sin_2__Definitive_Edition/

The story line is interesting, and the characters are twisted and funny in an almost horrifying way at times. Your choices matter, making you feel like you are part of the story. It is wickedly entertaining. And the recent addition of voice acting to the dialog really bring the game to life.

As long as you save your game regularly (do NOT forget to do this), the combats are pretty low stress. Because while many are challenging, you can always go back to your last save point and try again.

One thing to watch out for: this game has area of effect spells that react off of each other and the environment. This means that, if you don’t notice your partner is standing in grease and you decide to cast a fire spell at the enemy next to them, you may be pulling out a resurrection scroll on your next turn.

While sometimes infuriating, the dynamic nature of the combats make them much more interesting!

Shadowrun Chronicals: Boston Lockdown

https://store.steampowered.com/app/267750/Shadowrun_Chronicles__Boston_Lockdown/

A game of covert ops and combat, Boston Lockdown is by far my favorite game in the Shadowrun series. It is a world where magic and Sci-Fi collide, so there is something for everyone!

Each mission is like a puzzle you have to solve. If you don’t enter the map from the right place, or fail to move at just the right moment, you might get caught by security and have to fight your way out!

The puzzle like nature of this game makes for interesting debate, and since combat is turn based, you can really get tactical.

Otherwise you better have a pretty big gun.

First Person Shooters

Speaking of guns, maybe you and your partner can take a chance on a first person shooter.

These games are fast paced yet cathartic in a “punching your pillow” kind of way.

You will usually be carrying a gun, or wielding a large melee weapon as you make your way through a dangerous world full of story and adventure.

Recommendations:

Borderlands 2

https://store.steampowered.com/app/49520/Borderlands_2/

Borderlands 2 is by far my favorite game in the Borderland series. The villain “Handsome Jack” and your trusty sidekick robot, Claptrap, both bring a sense of humor to the game that is uniquely Borderlands. I mean… there’s a unicorn named Buttstallion for heaven’s sake.

The DLC that you can purchase after you have finished the main story line is just as good. I especially love the one where Tiny Tina runs a Dungeons and Dragons game called “Badass and Bunkers”.

Warframe

https://store.steampowered.com/app/230410/Warframe/

Parkouring ninja robots in space with guns and gorgeous customizable armor.

There is literally nothing not to love about that.

Dungeon Crawls

This final category encompasses those games that have a very simple, straight forward premise: beat the bad guy.

And, sometimes, you just don’t need more than that. These games are easy on the eyes and the psyche.

Relax. Kill bad guys. Get cool stuff.

Recommendations:

For the King

https://store.steampowered.com/app/527230/For_The_King/

Set off on your journey with your classic adventuring party, clearing the map of wicked creatures, finding secret dungeons, and saving the world.

The turn based combats are sometimes brutal, but the new armor and weapons you can get are worth the risk!

Just don’t stay out at night!

Lost Castle

https://store.steampowered.com/app/434650/Lost_Castle/

In Lost Castle, you fight through level after level of dungeons, picking up loot with fresh new abilities as you go. Defeating the dungeon boss will unlock more loot options for your next run.

Your next run, you ask?

Yes. You will die. A lot.

That’s the point. Every time you die, you level up your characters abilities and you start again. Maybe you get a little farther the next time, but every run is a step closer to the end.

This one is wildly addicting, and it is worth it to make it to the finale!

All of the games listed here can be found on Steam for easy downloading!

I hope you found something that sounds fun for you and your partner to play together.

Enjoy sharing the adventure!

Valentines Wishlist: A Nerdy Take on Traditional Favorites

Happy February! The month of heart shaped boxes of chocolates and giant stuffed teddy bears is upon us! But before you run out and buy your significant other a traditional Valentines gift, take a look at Dice Mom’s approved list of geeky alternatives! Feel free to click on the handy links below.

The nerd you love will thank you!

Valentines Day Card

The card isle in every retail store is now stocked to the brim with valentines cards of every shape and size. While it is fun to receive a card from someone you love, it quickly becomes a game of “okay… now what do I do with this?”. If I’m being honest, most of my cards either end up in a random drawer somewhere or in the recycling bin.

What I love about these pop up oragami cards are that they are both a card and a tiny work of art! They can be proudly displayed on a shelf and enjoyed long after the holiday is over.

And there are so many to chose from! This snitch is so dainty and pretty. It would look beautiful on your bookshelf next to your Harry Potter book collection.

Stuffed Animal

Why get a plain old bear holding a boring old heart, when you could get something unique!

This anatomical heart stuffy is so cheeky and nerdy, and it’s adorable too!

Or why not find something from their favorite fandom? I ask you, what DnD player wouldn’t want a giant stuffed D20?

Cheers!

Sharing a bottle of Champaign is a classic Valentines tradition. Make it extra special with these beautiful Star Wars inspired Champaign flutes!

Cuddling Favorites

Since we are still taking COVID precautions, make your time together special, even if its just at home!

For the coffee or tea lover:

For keeping his feet warm on a cold February evening in Valentine red:

For snuggling together while watching your favorite movie:

Activities!

Other than… you know… the obvious… here are some fun ideas for gamer couples!

I am so excited to play this DnD module crafted for couples to play together! It comes in 3.5 Edition or Pathfinder. You and your partner take turns being a player or the DM. Dice willing, your characters can even fall in love and end up together in the end. Cheesy? Absolutely. But I love cheesy!

This little card game is called Medium and it is so much fun. You and your partner each put down a card. After counting down from 3, you each say the first word that comes to mind at the same time. For example, I put down “Rose” and he puts down “Heart”. We count down and shout out our answers. Are your minds in sync? Or does he say “Valentines Day” while you say “Titanic”? Hilarity will most definitely ensue! I was in tears!! This game can also be played with big groups, so it is a great one to have around!

Jewelry

I love this dainty little dinosaur necklace. The heart screams Valentines gift, but I would rock this all year long.

For the fella who likes jewelry too, this Legend of Zelda ring is the definition of geek chic. I love that you also get a free custom engraving with it, so you can personalize it to make the piece extra special for your Valentine!

Candy

You can’t have a proper Valentines Day celebration without something sweet to eat!

I’ll be sharing some nerdy baking recipes this month, so stay tuned!!

But, if you’re not the baking type, this Harry Potter candy giftbox is a gift right out of Diagon Alley and will make your special witch or wizard swoon!

Flowers

Okay, I’m not going to have the “are real flowers a waste of money” debate. Because, if your partner likes them, then you should go for it.

But if you are looking for a fun nerdy alternative, These lego flowers are absolutely gorgeous. They last forever and will be a favorite piece of decor for years to come.

What’s the best part? You have to put them together for your partner ahead of time, so it is something you took the time to make for them. Which, in my opinion, makes them infinitely more special.

At a Harry Potter Event last Valentines Day

I hope you feel inspired to really dig deep this year and find something truly meaningful for the special person in your life. We’ve all been through a lot this year, and its so important to take a moment to see and appreciate those around us!

Or, maybe, you found something that you can treat yourself with! Because self care is just as important as caring for a partner.

Either way, I wish you lots of love for your Valentines Day!

Ring Fit Adventure: Game Your Way to Fitness

Welcome back to our January theme “Respawn Point”. We are starting fresh in 2021 and finding geeky ways to start healthy new routines. If you haven’t seen our other posts this month, feel free to check them out. We have been talking about improving our health, both mental and physical.

As we wrap up the month, I am excited to tell you guys about a new game I bought for our Nintendo Switch.

The game is entitled “Ring Fit Adventure”. My favorite thing about this video game is how entertaining it is for kids. My school age daughter finds it really fun, giving her a very positive view of health and fitness. This also works out well for me. Normally, if I want to get through an entire workout without interruption, I have to exercise early in the morning, or late at night. This game makes working out a family activity!

So, how does it work?

The game comes with two pieces of equipment: A ring and a leg strap. The game walks you through how to wear and use these pieces appropriately using a model named “Tipp”. I found the instructions very easy to follow.

The Adventure Mode of the game opens on your anime-esque character finding a magical ring in a field. After freeing the ring (with a ring pull) you accidentally release a large (muscular) purple dragon who is obviously very into body building.

The ring tells you that the dragon, Dragaux, wants to take over the world with his dark influence. “Ring” asks for your help. He or she will work with you to get stronger so you can defeat Dragaux and save the universe!

Pretty simple right? It’s not the most complicated story line, but its honestly just enough to make it interesting to play and watch. Also, it makes the game work well for kids!

I appreciate the humor in Ring Fit. Dragaux is a steriotypical gym-bro who does things like 10,000 squats calling it a “warm-up”. And when he loses a turn in battle, it says he’s “working out while planning his next workout”. I mean… I never thought I would find a dragon in a tank top intimidating, but this dude is seriously tough.

Each level has you physically “run” the course by running in place. The landscape is easy on the eyes, very colorful and bright. And if you run fast enough your character’s hair turns to fire!

There are resistance arm exercises (ring pushes and pulls) to pick up coins, break boxes and jump along the way.

As you run, you come upon Dragaux’s minions which you have to beat in exercise battles. You start out with a handful of exercises to chose from that do different types of attacks. These include leg raises, squats and arm presses. Tipp walks you through the exercise, coaching you on form and speed. The better you do, the more damage you do! As you level up, you will unlock more exercises/attacks to use.

To defend against your attacker, you must engage your core while pressing the ring against your abs.

You will go through three levels in each world before having to face Dragaux head on in his stadium. These boss battles are a slightly more intense workout. You may need to spend “smoothies” (aka. health potions) to get through some of them! Each one is more complicated than the last, meaning you will have to use some strategy to defeat him. It makes the whole experience more surprising and engaging.

The game will keep track of all of your stats for you, so you can watch your progress. You can also set the difficulty level if things start becoming too easy or you are just having an off day.

Since we each have our own profile, we can see what level each family member is at in the game and motivate (aka. relentlessly tease) one another!

The mini games are a kid favorite as well. She especially likes the one where you work out with the resistance ring to the beat of the music cirqua Dance, Dance, Revolution or Guitar Hero.

That is a devil tail from her Halloween costume…

To play together, one of us will wear the equipment and we will either take turns cheering each other, or the other person will work out, doing the same moves, next to the player.

Ring Fit is a great addition to your at home exercise routine. The workouts include simple resistance training with full body exercises and cardio. You don’t have to own a bunch of bulky exercise equipment. This makes, the set up/clean up quick and easy! You don’t need a ton of floor space to work with. We play in our living room and don’t even bother moving furniture around.

I would absolutely recommend picking this one up. It works for people of every age and fitness level. We even got my mom to play! Here is are the links to get everything you need!

And if you have a really little one who wants to join in:

Over the next few months when its super cold and hard to work out outside, and you may be avoiding a crowded gym due to Covid, this is the perfect way for you and your family to stay active and motivated from the comfort of home!

Happy gaming!

Quith-Pa: The Perfect Vegan Snack!

Following up on our review of Heroes’ Feast: The Official DnD Cookbook I wanted to find us a healthy recipe to fit in with our Respawn Point theme for January. If you remember, we are taking the month of January to talk about geeky ways to introduce healthy habits for the new year!

Here is a link to the cookbook if you haven’t picked up your copy yet!

You can also see my full review here!

We actually have many healthy options to choose from thanks to the Elven cuisine section of our book! You know how Elves can be-I have a fan theory that High Elves are on a continuous juice cleanse and that’s why they’re so cranky all the time.

The recipe I whipped up this weekend is called Quith-Pa (aka. Elven Rations). If you have an Elf adventurer in your DnD campaign, this is probably the snack they carry around and eat during long adventures.

There are several things I love about this recipe. It is very simple to make (my 6 year old helped me with it). It is also a convenient “grab and go” sweet snack that can replace more unhealthy options like candy or cookies.

And, most exciting, it is Dice Mom’s first Vegan Recipe!

Before you get started, make sure to dust off your food processor. This little gadget will make your work so much easier! If you don’t already have one, you can easily pick one like this up on Amazon. I have had my Cuisinart food processor for years and it still works great!

Okay, now that you’re kitchen is set up for success, here are the ingredients you are going to need:

1 orange (I already had a bag of Cuties so I just used 3 of these smaller oranges and it worked out well)

6 oz. (1 cup) dried apricots, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted (since I was making this recipe with a food sensitive kid in mind, I decided to use sweetened coconut instead as I knew she wasn’t a fan of the unsweetened kind. I also did not toast the shredded coconut to avoid any “it has a brown spot” issues!)

3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Kosher salt

One more note on apricots: color. My Quith-pa is bright orange compared to the more brownish color you see featured in our cookbook. I had to go down a Google rabbit hole to figure out what was going on. Apparently, there are three ways that apricots can be dried. The orange ones have been dried using sulfur, giving it a longer shelf life. The brown ones are dried in sunlight. There is a opinion based consensus online that these brown ones are sweeter.

So, you can try both and see what you like better! I found mine to be plenty sweet, and arguably more visually appealing. However, I am interested to try it with apricots that have been dried in a more natural process.

Once you have your ingredients, here’s what you need to do!

  • Grate orange peel to yield 1 1/2 tsp. of finely grated zest. Then squeeze the orange to yield 1 1/2 tablespoons of juice.
  • Coarsely chop apricots.
  • In your food processor, combine the apricots, 1/4 cup of the coconut, the orange zest and juice, vanilla, and a tiny pinch of salt.
  • Process until the mixture is very finely chopped, uniform and cohesive. You will have to stop and scrape down the sides a couple of times as the coconut loves to stick to the side of your processor.
  • Put your mixture into a bowl. It should stick together and be moldable, though this mixture will be stickier than regular dough.
  • Put the remaining 1/2 cup coconut in a wide, shallow bowl.
  • Roll mixture into 1 inch balls. I did mine smaller, about 1/2 in balls, because I wanted a smaller, single bite, snack.
  • Roll the balls in the coconut, pressing them gently to get the coconut to adhear.
  • Place the balls on a plate and let them sit out and “rest” for 45 minutes. This will allow them to firm up and dry out a bit.

Enjoy!

The balls will keep, according to the recipe, around 3 days in an airtight container. I put mine in a covered cake server that I keep on my table, and they make a bright and cheery centerpiece!

Reading the description found in Heroes’ Feast, it says that while this trail food is made up primarily of dried fruits, regional variations can include seeds, nuts, legumes, and beyond.

Everyone in the family enjoyed the basic recipe, but I think adding something like finely chopped pecans would give it a nicer texture, a little crunch! The earthy, salty pecans would be a fabulous compliment to the sweet, citrusy base. Not only that, but adding a protein source to this recipe makes it healthier, and keeps you full longer!

As you can see, this is a basic recipe with simple ingredients that is super fun to play with. Figure out what you and your family like and make it your own! I hope you enjoy experimenting in your own kitchen and I look forward to hearing what you come up with!

Kamala Harris: Shattering The Glass Ceiling

Its inauguration day.

Thank you, Kamala Harris.

You may not agree with her politics. Sure, there are many policy debates to be had. A multitude of issues to address and vote on.

But today, this day, my daughter watched a woman become the Vice-President of the United States.

That glass ceiling has finally been shattered.

Today we watch the glass rain down in sparkling brilliance. Women cheer together with pride.

Not just for her.

But for those women who were cut, and bled, and fought for every small crack in that glass.

Women who never gave up.

Who looked around their world and saw no female scientists, no female doctors, no female politicians and thought-“Why the hell not?”

Because of them, that burden, that ceiling, has been lifted off of the heads of my daughter and her generation.

They will grow up learning about the woman who works in the White House.

It will be so incredibly ordinary for them. So stunningly normal. So amazingly commonplace.

I can’t help but tear up as she practices giving political speeches on her karaoke machine.

These little girls will have their own work to do. Their generation will pick up the fight.

Because the fight goes on.

But today… this day, we stand with Vice President Kamala Harris, and we climb through that broken glass together.

We rise above it and close our eyes, breathing in the fresh air.

The sun shines on womankind.

A blue sky of limitless possibilities.

The Heroes’ Journal

For “Respawn Point” January, we are talking about positive changes, habits, and routines that you can start right now to make yourself happier and healthier!

I want to talk to you about Journaling.

There are many ways to journal. And it doesn’t take a lot of time, energy, or money to get started!

So grab a notebook that you have laying around, and your favorite pen, and let me tell you about my new Journal. It is called The Heroes’ Journal and brandishes the tagline:

“Give your goal a quest”.

Let me tell you why I love this little Journal! You may decide to pick one up yourself (see the link below). Or, you might just be inspired to use part or all of the format of the journal to help yourself get started.

https://shop.theherosjournal.co/collections/all

Each day of the year has its own two-page spread, thoughtfully and artistically laid out for you with 7 writing prompts to get those mental juices flowing!

So, lets go through each of the features, one by one!

“Today I’m grateful for”

In this section, you are given 3 lines to write what you are most thankful for on that day.

Because this journal doubles as a day planner, I like to fill mine out first thing in the morning while I drink my coffee. It has improved my mood tremendously as I find myself focusing more on those positive things as I go through my day.

Day Planner

Here you will find an hour by hour schedule where you can plan out your day!

If you work from home, like me, it helps you to organize the things you need to do to keep you on track.

As a stay at home mom, it is so easy to sit down at the end of the day and feel like you didn’t really accomplish anything. By writing down all of the things you do, believe me, you will feel like a super hero!

If you do have sections of your day blocked out for work or school or other things, just having that visual will help you see where in your day you have time to do things for yourself!

No matter what your life looks like, by holding yourself to the standard you set in the morning, you are going to not only improve productivity, but you are going to feel happier!

“Today’s Allies”

No adventurer can accomplish their quest on their own! This section is similar to the “Today I am grateful for” section because it again asks you to look around for the positives in your life!

Maybe your ally is your partner, your kid’s teacher, one of your collegues, etc.

Whoever you have in your life helping you accomplish your goals for the day, it is nice to take this moment to acknowledge them in writing. After doing so, you may find yourself remembering to thank them in person too!

“My Quest”

This is your overarching goal for the day.

When you go to bed this evening, what do you need to do or feel in order for your brain to tell you “mission accomplished”?

It could be something very specific. For example, today my quest was to finish this blog post. It was something I had been trying to finish for a few days, and I knew that I would feel so much better if I could get it done today.

It could also be something more vague, a feeling you hope to achieve. Maybe you want to “feel healthy” or “Be a great mom” for example.

That brings us to the next section directly under your quest.

“To Seize the Day”

This section is a check-box style list that gives you a spot to write the 3 things you can do to accomplish your quest as featured above.

In the example of “Feel Healthy” you could say

  1. Work Out
  2. Take my vitamins
  3. Cook and eat a healthy meal

I love check lists because of the satisfying feeling you get when you check off the items one by one.

My favorite part of this little section is the famous quotes from nerdy books or media. There is a different inspirational quote every day from places such as the Harry Potter series, Tolkien, the Cheshire Cat, C.S Lewis, and many many more. I look forward to reading them every morning!

Dot Grid

This simple dot grid takes up a third of one of the pages.

It is a great place to draw, create, and be artistic! You can always use your phone as a day planner (and I do that too) but there is something inspiring about writing and doodling in a real, physical journal.

Just the act of writing gets the creative juices flowing and make you feel connected to your thoughts and feelings.

“Today’s Threats”

Every adventurer must face enemies or traps along the way.

This final section is a chance for self reflection and a quick dose of reality.

Maybe the enemy is within yourself. I personally suffer with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and find myself paralyzed by anxiety or just exhausted by it some days.

The enemy could be outside of yourself, a difficult co-worker, or even the weather!

Every day, there will be roadblocks in the way of you reaching the goal that you set. By writing them down, you call those enemies out of the shadows.

Because to defeat your enemies, you have to see them.

To sum it all up, I am really happy with this little journal. It is well laid out, well made, and visually appealing. My days have improved since using it, and I hope that reading this has inspired you to start a journal of your own!

Remember that your mental health is important and requires time and attention, just like your physical health.

So, take the time to be with yourself, talk to yourself, and encourage yourself. You deserve it!

Upcycled Popsicle Stick Bracelets

Have an obscure fandom that you want to display proudly, but can’t find any cute merch? Why not make your own???

These recycled popsicle stick bracelets are wearable by anyone, and oh sooo easy!

Here’s how to do it!

  • You’re going to need some popsicle sticks. You can purchase a bag of them at any craft store if popsicles aren’t really your jam.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  • Add your sticks to the boiling water and “cook” for 5 minutes. Make sure to boil MORE sticks than you need in case you have any issues with breaking or splintering later!
  • After cooking, turn off the burner and cover the pot with a lid. Let the sticks sit in the hot water for 20 minutes.
  • Once they are done soaking, you will be able to remove them from the pot and start “molding” them into the bent bangle/bracelet shape. If they give you too much resistance, you can repeat the boiling/soaking procedure again. I ended up having to do it twice.
  • Once the sticks are pliable enough, you will use a cup or jar to hold the sticks into the bracelet shape.
  • Let the bracelets dry completely. We had ours sitting overnight and they were ready in about 24 hours.
  • After drying, you can use the entire stick to make a bangle, or cut it in half to make more of a bracelet (don’t forget to round the corners to match). I found the bracelet worked better, as my stick wasn’t quite bent enough to stay in the completely rounded shape. I think some trial and error would lead me to use a thinner cylinder shaped cup to dry the sticks, making the bangle smaller. But I was really happy with the bracelet version!
  • Next you will need to drill 2 holes for the string of your bracelet. I used a small hand drill, but make sure you are VERY careful not to split the wood as you drill. It was precarious and I was very glad to have extra bracelets!
FAIL
  • Decorate your bracelet! I had these cute Baby Yoda stickers I got in my Christmas stocking, so I used those and a permanent marker to make my own adorable Mandalorian Merch! PRO TIP: I used a brown permanent marker to color the edge of my piece, giving a more finished look!
  • Thread your bracelet string. I used some left over yarn from one of my knitting projects, but I think leather string would be really cute too! Whatever you use, having a yarn sewing needle makes the job a breeze! They are only around a dollar at the craft store, so its definitely a smart purchase. I use it for lots of different projects!

That’s it, you’re done! Pair your new bracelet with a couple other cute bangles and beaded bracelets for a fun Boho Chic look!

Did I mention my daughter had a blast making them too and that they would make such cute gifts??

Have fun creating, and fly that geek flag with pride!

Why You Need a Motivational Water Bottle

For our first installment of “Respawn Point”, our New Years theme for the month of January, I would like to talk to you about a little thing called… water!

I had picked up a lot of bad habits in quarantine, so I decided to kick off this month with something so simple that I couldn’t really mess it up.

And “drink water” is as simple as it gets. Doctors recommend adults drink 8 glasses of water every day. We’ve all heard it. However, I could not seem to get my act together. By the end of 2020, I wasn’t drinking a single sip of water most days.

You heard that right.

I was filling my day with cup after cup of black coffee, or soda, or the occasional Starbucks. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things. But if you looked at my Mana Pool, you would have seen that it was bone dry. I was walking around, looking normal, but feeling drained of all energy.

As a Christmas gift I received this SUPER CUTE motivational Harry Potter water cup. It is the kind with the times down the side to keep you on track throughout the day. It also has a strainer in the lid, if adding fruit to your water is your jam.

It was a game changer!

Now drinking water became a game. And I’m good at games. I wanted to win! So, I filled it up one morning, and made a very important decision…

I WAS NOW THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO DRINKS 8 GLASSES OF WATER A DAY.

And I did.

And here is how it went!

Day 1: “Finally got through all of that accursed water. I kept forgetting to drink it, or forgetting my cup in the other room and had to chug a bunch every hour or two to keep up. This afternoon I actually noticed that I was thirsty for the first time in what seems like forever. HAVE I BEEN LIVING MY WHOLE LIFE DEHYDRATED??”

Day 2: “I forgot the freaking cup at home during my morning errands so had to play catch-up all afternoon. I drank less coffee and soda than normal. Not because I am intentionally cutting down, but because I didn’t have time. Had to take an afternoon nap to deal with lethargy. How do people live without caffeine??? SO. MUCH. WATER.

Had to get up in the middle of the night to pee twice because I drank so much in the later part of the day. Lesson learned…”

Day 3: “Today, whenever I started feeling hungry, and I would normally grab something to eat, I would look at my water bottle and realize that I was falling behind on my drinking. By the time I chugged water to catch up to where I should be, 9 times out of 10 I wasn’t hungry anymore. Its weird how your body confuses the two.”

Day 4: “Not sure if I’ve lost weight (didn’t weigh myself at the beginning because that wasn’t really the point of this exercise), but definitely feel less bloated. Tummy feels flatter, and pants fit better. Actually felt like eating healthy and planning healthy meals for the first time in a very long time. Just generally feeling more motivated to be healthier. I have more energy today, even without my normal 3 cups of coffee and 2 sodas. This was the first day I finished my water EARLY. Honestly was not expecting to acclimate to drinking this much water so quickly. Also peeing, like, a lot.”

Day 5: “I drank all of my water by dinner time… then drank another half a bottle in the evening. Actually craving it for the first time. Its weird.”

Day 6: “Drinking all of my water is already becoming a non entity. Its just starting to happen naturally without having to think about it!”

Day 7: “I was planning on doing this day-by-day for 2 weeks, but I started feeling noticeably better much faster than I originally thought possible. I only had half a cup of coffee today, no other stimulants. And I had TONS OF ENERGY. I cleaned my whole house. And my skin is clearer as well, which is such a nice bonus! I wish I had started this sooner!”

One week.

That’s all it took to break free of my caffeine addiction and start drinking more water. And guess what? You can do it too!

Grab a glass. Start RIGHT NOW.

If you want a cute nerdy one like mine, here it is on Amazon!

Because here is the thing. A week ago, I was not the type of person who would drink 8 glasses of water a day. But today, I am.

And it doesn’t stop there.

What else does the type of person who drinks 8 glasses of water a day do?

That person eats healthy food. They take multivitamins. They floss. They go for walks. They encourage their family to drink more water too!

Its the Rube Goldberg Device of health! Start with one, small, seemingly insignificant thing. You might be surprised where you end up!

It’s Finally 2021… Now what?

After a holiday break with my little family, I am so excited to be back here at Dice Mom to continue our journey in parenthood, geekiness, and nerddom.

2020… Well, THAT happened.

We’ve been saying for so long, “I can’t wait for this year to be over!!” And, now that the chiming of the midnight bell is upon us… one question seems to be hanging in the cold, winter air… what are we supposed to do?

The pandemic is still here, for now. But that doesn’t mean we have to let allllll of the negativity of 2020 bleed into our new year. The vaccine roll out is happening, the light is THERE. Right at the end of this twisted sewer tunnel we are calling life right now.

So… now what?

January 1st is that special day of the year where you (in gamer terms) get the chance to reset, respec, and respawn. We can make goals. Think about what we want to be. What we want to bring with us, and what we want to leave behind.

After this hell scape of a year, how refreshing is that?!

So, for the month of January, our theme will be “Respawn Point!” We will be discussing some of my 2021 goals, and review some nerdy gadgets, gizmos, and games that I plan to use on my journey! Some goals are pretty cliche, others are more personal, but (most importantly) they are all attainable! Take a look! Maybe you will be inspired to get started on your own list today!

  • Drink more water.
  • Exercise every day.
  • Start journaling.

And while we’re at it…

  • Get more sleep.
  • Give myself grace.
  • Feel beautiful.
  • Do more of the crafts I love.
  • Hug my family more.
  • 100 Blog posts!
  • Never take the things we lost during COVID for granted again.

That last one is weighing the heaviest on me as I sit here on this chilly December afternoon.

Going out to eat. Hugging my grandma. Sending my daughter to school. Date nights. Going to the gym. Playing DnD or boardgames with friends around a table. Taking a vacation. Hanging out with my family on Christmas… It is all the more precious now.

So lets all take a deep breath and take the plunge into 2021 together! You may not be feeling motivated to join in with me just yet. And that is okay! Hopefully my “Respawn Point” series this month will inspire you to enter the new year healthier: mentally, emotionally, and physically. Whatever that looks like for you. We will probably have a few screw ups, complete fails, and some laughs along the way, but whatever happens, its sure to be an adventure!