iPieces Game Review and Giveaway

The iPad is big in our house. Jack has really taken to it and uses it for all manner of things. It’s been a life saver while dealing with clinic visits and extra time at home! Jack’s favorite thing to use it for, of course, is games. When I spotted the iPieces games from Pressman Toy at BlogHer a few months ago, I got excited. I readily agreed to provide a review and offer you, dear readers, a chance to win an iPieces game of your choice!


What drew me to iPieces was not only the fact that they use tangible game pieces (I like things I can hold in my hand!), but that they use the technology of the iPad to offer interactive games that people already know and love. I’ve wanted to share my love of board games with my son, but didn’t desire to have a billion board game boxes lying around the house with missing pieces. These iPieces games come in compact game boxes that are about the size of two decks of cards and have very few pieces!

We received both the Fishing Game and Air Hockey to review. Jack was familiar with the board game version of the Fishing Game, so he went for that one right off the bat. It comes with four ‘fishing rods’ that you use to catch fish and drag them across the iPad screen to a bucket in the corner. There is a pelican that flies by and tries to steal fish from your bucket, so while you are trying to catch fish you also have to keep an eye out and block the bird.

It took two games before Jack got the hang of using the fishing rod – it has a flat end that you have to keep in contact with the screen when dragging the fish. He kept trying to drag too quickly and would end up dropping the fish when the rod rocked and lost contact with the screen. He got the hang of it pretty quickly, though.

The Fishing Game is a four player game, but we just played with two players. We had fun competing to catch the most valuable fish and there was enough room on the iPad screen that we weren’t constantly bumping into one another. I think if there were more players, the difficulty level of the game would be raised a bit and the competitive aspect would ramp up, too, as players fight to find an open spot to catch a fish and try to navigate the other fishing rods to get the fish to their bucket.

Verdict: After we played a few 3-minute games, Jack kept going by himself – the game can be played with only one player, as well. Win! This one is definitely a keeper.

We also tried the iPieces Air Hockey game. This required a bit more of an explanation for Jack since he’d never played air hockey before. I felt a bit bad playing against him when our skill levels are so different. His reflexes just aren’t as fast as mine! This one has two physical mallet pieces, while the puck is digital. I didn’t love the pieces – one of them had gotten chipped during shipping so the round red base kept coming off. The mallets felt too small for adult hands, as well.

The format of air hockey doesn’t translate all that well to a small screen, in my opinion. I can imagine if you got two iPads and each player had their own screen, that would make it so you aren’t constantly coming so close to the midpoint line and the other player. In our case, Jack kept forgetting that he couldn’t cross over the middle line in the court and I don’t really blame him – there’s not a lot of room on the screen to sling those pucks like there is on a real table.

Verdict: The Air Hockey game is probably better for children, although my 6 year old didn’t totally grasp the rules. Teens and adults will probably prefer to play air hockey on a real table where they can stretch out.

iPieces are available for purchase at Amazon, Toys“R”Us, Barnes & Noble, K-mart, Radio Shack, Learning Express, and BJ’s Wholesale Club stores nationwide.


Now, time for the giveaway! This will be open for entry until Friday, October 26 at 11:59pm and is open to U.S. residents only (sorry, Canucks!). To win a free copy of one of five iPieces games (Fishing Game, Game of Goose, Air Hockey, Snakes & Ladders, or Pool):

1. Leave a comment telling me which game you would like and who you’ll be playing it with – mandatory for 1 entry

2. Go to Facebook and ‘Like’ the EwokmamaBlog page or the one for Pressman Toy (comment that you did this) – 1 additional entry if #1 is completed


I was provided with a free copy of both of iPieces games for review. I was not compensated for my review and all words are my own. Please see my Disclosures page for additional information pertaining to products reviewed on this blog.

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BlogHer12 Recap

I’m really glad I got to go to BlogHer this year. It was a great event and I loved seeing New York City again, as well as my many friends who live in the Internets. This BlogHer, as opposed to BH10, was much less overwhelming for me. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had a buddy (Jana), that I knew so many more people this go-round, or if it was the fact that I went in without any expectations or set plans; it all worked out well and I just happened to run into pretty much all the people I had hoped to see!

This is just a brief recap that does the conference NO JUSTICE. But please consider checking out the posts I’ve linked below and enjoy the pics. Maybe I’ll see you in Chicago next year!

Voices of the Year I particularly enjoyed:

Jana: From a Pecan to a Majestic Magnolia (Identity [read at Open Mic])


Elizabeth at Flourish in Progress: To the Person Who Stole My Taco Bell Gordita Savings Fund (Humor)

Neil from Citizen of the Month: The Poet at the Geek Bar (Humor)

Dresden Shumaker: Welfare Queen (Heart)

Arnebya Herndon: Walk This Way (Op-Ed)

Best Party:


Come As You Are – It was hosted by Aiming Low and Mouthy Housewives. I got some pretty sweet artwork drawn on me by Robin Plemmons, plus I got to give out all kinds of compliments on stickers (and got a few myself). And there was the most amazing chocolate covered peanut butter ball dessert thingy…

Connected with and/or hugged (in no particular order and possibly not all-inclusive):

Jana, Issa, Dawn, Cathy, Nona, Alecia, Allison, Katherine, Tanis, Anissa, Julia Roberts, Liz, Andrea, Jenny, Lauren, Frelle, Stacey, Bossy, Christine, Stacey (who also likes ewoks), Robin Plemmons, Angie, Jenny Grace, Julia, EmmieJ, Megan, Kristine, Jenna

Favorite conference moments:

In the “Blogging After Life Change” session, I spoke up to tell my story and was able to connect with another mom whose son had just recently been diagnosed with Leukemia.

When the lovely Robin Plemmons wrote on my arm, “He will be healed,” we both teared up.

Dancing with the very talented Cathy at Sparklecorn.

‘Fancy’ breakfast with Jana and Lauren.

When I drew a schlong on Allison’s moo card during a keynote.

What I did offsite:

Rode the subway, then had ‘fancy breakfast’.
Ate breakfast for lunch at Serendipity3.
Visited Tiffany & Co.

Things I’ll do differently next year:

Go out to dinner.
Buy a memento.
Attend more than 2 sessions.
Pack a suitcase in a suitcase (for swag).
Share a cab to/from the hotel to save cash.
Take an incoming flight that is NOT a red-eye.
Drink more champagne.
Take more pictures!

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Help Empower Young Girls with a Click!

The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they’re showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Last fall I went to New York (insert New York song – it’s what dreams are made of, I hear) and attended my first blogging conference – the one and only BlogHer. I met some awesome female bloggers, including Aunt Becky of Mommy Wants Vodka fame, whom I nearly tackled coming out of a party that I couldn’t get into (I was late and the place was packed, bah!).  She was quite gracious about it, thankfully!

A few months after I came home, I found out that Aunt Becky had launched Band Back Together, which is a new little blogging baby of hers that has simply EXPLODED since it went live last fall.  I immediately fell in love with the group blogging site and its mission, which is: “Through the power of real stories written by real people, we can work together to destigmatize mental illness, abuse, rape, baby loss and other traumas so that we may learn, grow, and heal.”  I simply had to be part of this and thankfully, Becky was accepting volunteers.

The site is less than a year old and has over 1,000 members contributing.  There are over 100 resource pages to connect people with information about anything from divorce to teen pregnancy (and more are added almost daily).  Becky and the rest of the Brains Behind the Band put in countless (unpaid!) hours every day to continually improve the site and support the contributors who share so much of themselves in order to get help and help others.

I feel so incredibly lucky to be part of this site and work with so many women who want to do good things for the blogging world (plus Becky’s husband The Daver, who is also a vital part of the whole operation!).  I am inspired by Becky’s ability to bring this to life in such a short time AND make it so successful (the site has already won a Bloggie and was recognized as one of the Top 25 Mental Wellness Blogs).  And Becky doesn’t stop with the good ideas – she has recently invited teens into the fold at Band Back Together and plans to tackle non-profit paperwork next.

Which brings me to another very special non-profit organization out there called Girls For a Change. In their own words,

Girls For A Change (GFC) is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change. We invite young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods. GFC empowers girls for personal and social transformation. The program inspires girls to have the voice, ability and problem solving capacity to speak up, be decision makers, create visionary change and realize their full potential.

I’m sure you can see the similarities here.  I love that this organization is working with girls of an impressionable age to inspire, empower, and make them aware of their own strengths and influence on society.  I believe this is a great way to turn little girls into adult advocates and drivers of social change (perhaps like an Aunt Becky).

If you’d like to give a helping hand to Girls For A Change, Yahoo! is making it easy for you – click this link and follow the instructions to make Yahoo! your homepage between now and July 1st.  For each person who does this, Yahoo! will donate $10 to GFC, up to a total of $10,000.  We have until this Friday to find 1,000 individuals to meet this goal!

Please pass on this message, tweet with the hashtag #cleversforachange, get the word out on Facebook or other social networks.  I’d love to wake up Friday and see that $10K goal met!

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Getting the Writing Groove Back

I had planned to write more about what I did in NY and who I met and all that but…it’s all kind of a blur by now.  My wedding is in 2.5 weeks and I’m kind of a ball of stress due to that and the fifteen billion other things I’ve got going on in my life.  It’s amazing I can walk really…

I do want to talk about the one full session I attended at BlogHer before I lose the memory!  The session was part of the Writing Lab and was entitled “Stoking Your Creativity.”  The topic was the #1 reason I went to BlogHer and the panelists addressed all of the things that I was there to figure out!

One of the panelists in the session was Rita Arens, author of the blog Surrender, Dorothy and editor of the book Sleep is for the Weak (which has been on my wish list forever…I haven’t read a book in two years!).  I got a chance to speak with Rita on Saturday night after the parties ended and felt even more enamored with her afterward.  She is a smart, funny, well-spoken, down-to-earth woman.  I am so glad I was able to meet and talk to her.

There were a couple of things that Rita said that have really stuck with me since the session, the first being “no one cares if you write that novel.”  Sure, family and friends will be happy for you but ultimately the writing is more for the writer’s personal satisfaction.  When I started writing, I definitely focused more on the fact that I had so much in my head that I needed to get out.  As time has gone by I’ve gotten much more aware of my audience and sometimes that has definitely had an impact on what and how I write.  Rita’s words were a great push for me to go back to the beginning.

At one point in the session someone in the audience asked how a blogger can switch gears and talk about different topics on the blog.  The answer was simple – use tags or categories and readers can choose to skip that entry based on that.  She emphasized that it’s okay that the writer’s mood affects the blog entries – after all, everyone experiences these in life and it shows the writer’s authenticity.  This hit home with me in a big way.  I have struggled over the past couple of years to write on this blog because of all the turmoil in my life.  Somehow I lost sight of the life/blog parallel while worrying about whether anyone would want to read what I had to say.

The live blog version of the Stoking Your Creativity session can be found at BlogHer website.  I would encourage you to check it out and also Rita’s blog.  Even better, go to BlogHer next year in San Diego and meet her!

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Wherein I (Blogger)Name Drop

I haven’t experienced homesickness since I was 11.  That was the summer I was supposed to spend a month with my best friend Kristal down in Fresno-area.  I didn’t last there a week.  The following year I was fine and every year after that I looked forward to that summer escape from my daily life, even if it was mostly the two of us playing pool, eating Kisses w/Almonds and watching bad soap operas.  It’s really hot in the valley in summer, so we didn’t get out much.

Thursday night at BlogHer, in between parties, it hit me again.  I was across the country from David and Jack and wouldn’t see them for days.  I had no one to snuggle with and I was a little out of sorts in an unfamiliar city.  I cried talking to David, called Jack and listened to him announce that he was a magician before fluttering away from the phone, and then wandered around the Hilton…

That was when I ran across Ali sitting in the lobby, and that familiar face from San Francisco made everything instantly better.  Plus (if you’ve met Ali you know) she is the snuggliest, huggiest person ever.  We hopped in a cab and headed to the Schick Party where we were both bummed to NOT be let in because we were so late.  Bummer!  Nevertheless, we waited around outside and were able to meet Angie and Aunt Becky and their husbands, among others that my feeble brain cannot recall at the moment.  (Side note – I had NO idea how best to introduce myself to people…hi, I’m Crystal…um, Ewokmama?  Oh, so you’ve heard of me?  Cool, here’s my card anyway because I bought 500 and I have nothing else to do with them.)  After quick intros, Ali and I headed over to meet up with Countess Mo at an Irish pub.  Mo and I hadn’t met in person prior to this but it still felt like I was seeing someone from home.  It was a very welcome interlude.  When Mo left to chase after a friend, Ali and I wandered back to hang out with Aunt Becky & gang back at the hotel bar where Becky’s husband The Daver and I talked about work and corporate America.  We are Teh Kewl!  Or something.

Not too long after the group headed to bed, Ali and I stumbled into some drunk guy who wanted to party with us “fresh girls.”  Ahahahaha.  Ha.  Countess Mo showed up out of the blue (how does she do that?!) to rescue us because she is totally the mama hen.  She rocks and I luff her.  We took a short trip up to a room where Duchess Mama (I am apparently into the royals) was staying with some other awesome ladies (who were you?  am I following you??) and giggling.  It was funny.  I was drunk, though, so don’t take my word for it.  Oh, that reminds me of a funny story of my actual meeting of Duchess Mama.  It’s good, I promise…

So, we were at The People’s Party earlier that night and the set up was such that there were rugs overlapping on the floor.  Duchess noticed this when her shoe slipped under the overlap.  I immediately pointed out that she could TOTALLY get a free drink for that craziness!  So then she “tripped” over the carpet and the hotel folks swarmed her to make sure she was okay and girly totally got a drink.  Meanwhile the Hilton dudes discussed how best to avoid any future accidents and decided to place two chairs over the overlapping rugs…where a few bloggers proceeded to lap dance.  ‘Twas awesome.  (Did anyone get pictures?)

I can’t really remember what happened after we left Duchess & Co’s room so I will wrap this up.  Suffice it to say that all of this was just one night of BlogHer.  Also, there is a lot missing, like the delicious deli I went to with my roomies, the awesome dinner with my roomies, Nona, and Issa where our Irish waitress showed Issa how to use her iPhone camera, that nap I took in the hotel room, the surprise meeting of Jessica from Oh The Joys in the hallway, and the meeting of Undomestic Diva and Shuggilippo at The People’s Party.

So, yeah, there was A LOT packed into every day of my trip to New York and on this particular day the conference had not even started yet.  Still, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t have time to miss home.  There is always time for that.

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