Time For Vacation!

Time For Vacation!

In the last year, we have posted 150 times! And 100 of those have been story posts! (The others have been just general information and special posts like our “Family Photo Friday” and “Gracie’s Summer Reading List.”) That is a lot of posts!

The girls and I will be taking a short vacation for a week or two. It will be their first vacation ever, and they are all particularly excited. We may end up at the beach, but then again, we may just stay home and play in a backyard wading pool! You seriously will not believe how difficult it is to find inflatable beach toys small enough for chickens! Flip flops are easy. Pool toys, not so easy. Then there is the whole issue of swimsuits for the beach! (That backyard plastic pool is looking a lot easier!)

We will be back from time to time, particularly with “Gracie’s Summer Reading List” posts. Poolside reading while dipping our feet and toes in the water sounds like a perfect kind of vacation.

I will also be working on our next book which I hope will be ready by late fall. It’s an expanded version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” The time away on vacation will give me an opportunity to really work on the story and the illustrations.

You may remember how one of the key characters, The Bottle Cap Lady, has a yard full of Christmas decorations which she has collected over the years. We are talking about a lot of Christmas decorations, and that will be a lot of drawing! I really do enjoy drawing Pearl. She lets me use bright and outrageous colors and props and costumes. While she may often be silly, she truly has a heart of gold.

If you’ve started following “My Life With Gracie” after those posts were shared last December, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Pearl will still be the main character along with The Bottle Cap Lady, and you can be sure Pearl will still be her own unique self as she has always been.

Those two posts were two of the most read and most liked from all of last year. At the time, several people had told me, “John, you need to turn this into a book.” It wasn’t until Pearl died in the spring of this year, that things began to come together for this book. Because Pearl felt such great heartbreak, I knew that she would be the only one who would be able to reach The Bottle Cap Lady and help others who have had to deal with tragedy and loss.

Not to give to much of the plot away though, but here is a brief summary of this book which I’m hoping will be an inspiration to many people.

“How To Explain Christmas To Chickens”

Pearl loves being a chicken, and she loves being a comedian. Her natural curiosity leads her to explore her neighborhood. When she secretly visits The Bottle Cap Lady, she learns about Christmas in a most unusual and unforgettable way. Pearl discovers there is a Christmas gift that only she can give, but will she?

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

“Feed The Chickens!” Card Game…Our Anniversary Gift To You!

Feed The Chickens Card Game

Today we are celebrating our One-Year Anniversary of “My Life With Gracie” stories and illustrations. Here is our “Thank You!” gift to you, our readers!

We have truly appreciated your encouragement and support over the past twelve months! PDF documents to “Print and Play” are at the bottom! Hopefully this game isn’t too “corny,” but my chickens love it!

“Feed The Chickens!” Un-Official Official Rules

(That means it’s okay to change them and even add your own rules! Gracie says so, and what Gracie says goes!)

Object Of The Game Two Chicken Farmers try to make seven different Food Piles for their chickens, one for each different fruit or vegetable. The Winner is the Chicken Farmer with the highest total value for their top cards in their own “Feed The Chickens!” Area. (The illustration above should help explain these rules. You can see how the cards are arranged when playing. White and gray labels are used for Pearl, and pale orange and tan are used for Gracie.)

How To Set Up Shuffle cards. Deal face down on the table to make a Draw Pile for each Chicken Farmer.

How To Play Both Chicken Farmers turn over their top cards and place them face up to see who has the highest value. The Chicken Farmer with the highest value gets to “Feed The Chickens!”

Sometimes both cards will have the same value! (This is what you see in the Illustration. Pearl has Two Kale and Gracie has Two Corn.) When that happens, both Chicken Farmers turn over their top cards again. Repeat until someone has a higher value on their top card. This means there could be a lot of cards to choose from when someone gets to “Feed The Chickens!”

How To “Feed The Chickens!” The Chicken Farmer with the highest value top card takes all the cards turned over and selects one Fruit Card or Vegetable Card for their “Feed The Chickens!” Area. This card may be used to make a new kind of Food Pile or be put on top of a matching Food Pile if they have that kind already. Remember every time there is a card with a higher value turned over, it’s time to “Feed The Chickens!”

Other card or cards taken but not used to “Feed The Chickens!” should be placed in the Chicken Farmer’s Discard Pile. Then it’s time to turn over cards again!

How To Continue Playing When one Chicken Farmer’s Draw Pile is empty, reshuffle Discard Piles (along with card from the other Chicken Farmer’s Draw Pile if there is one). Deal again and continue.

If there are no cards or only one card in the Discard Piles to reshuffle, collect all of the cards in the center and reshuffle all of them. (Sorry, chickens! You will have to wait just a little longer!)

When To Stop Playing Stop when one Chicken Farmer has made all seven different Food Piles in their “Feed The Chickens!” area.

How To Decide Who Is The Winner Total the values for the top cards only. The Winner is the Chicken Farmer who has the highest total. If both have the same total, the Winner is the Chicken Farmer who was last to “Feed The Chickens!” (In the illustration above, Pearl has some catching up to do if she wants to win!)

Fruit Cards and Vegetable Cards are worth one, two, or three.

A Worms Card is higher than any Fruit Card or Vegetable Card. It is worth four.

The Old Shoe Card is worth zero. Sorry, but you never feed an old shoe to chickens!

Super Special “Old Shoe” vs. “Worms” Rule Whenever the first cards turned over are the Old Shoe Card and a Worms Card, the Worms Card can be put on any existing Food Pile for a value of four. (This is what you see for Gracie in the illustration above. Pearl turned over the “Old Shoe,” and Gracie turned over the “Worms.” So she put it on top of her Peas Food Pile to give it a value of four.)

This is the only time the chickens get any worms. (Sorry again, chickens! But we need them to keep the game going! We will run out of worms if you eat them all!)

If the Chicken Farmer who turned over the Worms Card doesn’t have any Food Piles yet, the Worms Card can be used to start a new Food Pile as long as the Chicken Farmer says what it will be (such as “Watermelon” or “Kale”). Any future cards of that kind would be placed on that Food Pile.

Super Special “Can’t Make Seven Food Piles” Rule It is possible that neither Chicken Farmer will be able to make all seven different Food Piles. This can happen when both Chicken Farmers have at least one Food Pile with all three matching Fruit Cards or Vegetable cards.

If this should happen, continue playing until the only cards left are the Worm Cards and Old Shoe Card. The Winner is still the Chicken Farmer with the highest total value. If both have the same value, the Winner is the Chicken Farmer who was last to “Feed The Chickens!”

(Strategy Tip: If you see that the other Chicken Farmer has two of the same Fruit or Vegetable cards and you get to “Feed The Chickens!” you may want to use the last of that kind of Fruit or Vegetable card to “Feed The Chickens!” even if it only has a value of one. Otherwise, you might not be able to make that Food Pile later!)  

Watch Out For This!  There will be times when you have to place a lower value card on top of a higher value card when you “Feed The Chickens!” You won’t have any other choice! This is because the Chicken Farmer who has turned over the higher value card must “Feed The Chickens!” (This is every chicken’s favorite rule! It also can make the game very interesting because you can lose points! Feed your chickens wisely!)

“Print and Play” PDF’s for “Feed The Chickens!”

“Card Backs” Print two of these. Use card stock weight paper if possible. You can then flip them over and print “Card Fronts – Sheet One” and “Sheet Two” on the other side. This will give you a picture on both sides of every card!

“Card Fronts – Sheet One” Print one of these. The top part has a “Wrap Around Case” for your card game. The bottom part has twelve cards. Cut along dotted lines. Trim with scissors as needed to even them up.

“Card Fronts – Sheet Two” Print one of these. The top part has “Pocket Rules” which you can use for quick reference and then fold up for storage. The bottom part has thirteen cards. Cut along dotted lines. Trim with scissors as needed.

When you have all twenty-five cards from both sheets cut to the right size, place them in a stack. Then place the “Wrap Around Case” snugly (but not too tightly) around the cards. This way you can still slide your cards in and out again. You will probably need to trim the ends some before gluing or taping.

Hey! Why not print a double big deck of fifty cards in all!?!

There are plenty of other rules you can add when you play this game! In fact, you can make up your own rules! Remember how I practically filled an entire notebook with brainstorming ideas from my chickens? There are plenty of ways to “Feed The Chickens!”

You might even want to just print the “Card Backs” on some sheets, cut them out and make your own kinds of cards! Maybe analog games that let you use your imagination and creativity really can still survive in a digital world!

Most important of all, even if you aren’t a kid anymore, you can still be a kid at heart! And kids love to “Feed The Chickens!”

Thanks again!

John, Gracie, Bessie, Pearl, Amelia, and Emily