Now onto figuring out this game

Since receiving a gift of an antique Maj Jongg game from a friend (See prior blog post “A Most Unexpected Gem” ) I’ve decided that it might be a good idea to actually learn how to play Maj Jongg. The only version that I’ve ever played is the one online where you are timed to uncover matching tiles. I would soon learn that this is nothing like any real Mah Jongg game.

I decided to go to our local senior center where they have a weekly group of ladies that play Maj Jongg. The write-up indicated that they welcome anyone from beginners to experts, but that they appreciated it if you would commit to at least three weeks to learn.

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I was soon to find out that the version these ladies play is the modern American one which was created in 1937. The object of the game is to discard all of your tiles based on various combinations from a printed card showing all possible legitimate variations. This card is called the “Official Standard Hands & Rules” and is available to dues paying members of the National Mah Jongg League, Inc. (see www.nationalmahjonggleague.org for further details). This card is updated on a yearly basis.

I sat out the first game while observing how the game progressed. It’s been said that if you are familiar with gin rummy, that you have a basic understanding of the game of Mah Jongg. I guess on a very basic level that is true, but I found it very daunting. They encouraged me to play the second game, but I declined, wanting to continue to just sit back and watch. They actually made me join the third game, though, telling me the more that I sat out the harder it would be to learn. I am not sure about that, lol!

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There are more than 40 known variants of American and a dozen Chinese varieties of Mah Jongg. The modern American version that we were playing happens to be the hardest to learn of them all, lucky me. Only the American versions use a card to determine allowable hands, all the others are freehand.

The ladies kept remarking how they felt that I was getting the hang of the game by the questions I was asking. I really was, but when I started to actually play I was very bothered by the lady who had given up her place for me to play. Instead of sitting back and letting me learn by playing and arranging the tiles on my own, she stood over my shoulder and kept pointing out what I should or shouldn’t be doing. This only made me more flustered and really didn’t allow me to sink or swim on my own.

I’ve decided that I will attend at least the next two sessions with those ladies, but I will try to be tactful and ask that I be able to play my own hand, but have them available if I have any questions. In the meantime I went to the library and picked up the book, “A Beginner’s Guide to American Mah Jongg How to Play the Game & Win” by Elaine Sandberg.

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It’s been very helpful thus far, actually clearing up some questions that I had written down to ask the ladies at our next session. There are also several exercises that I have found to be very informative, getting me more familiar with the card with it’s variations on it. I’ll keep you posted in my next blog how I am progressing.

Planes: Fire & Rescue Free Activity Sheets

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When world-famous air racer Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his team, a bunch of all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire, and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.

In celebration of the upcoming release of PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE I have some fun free activities for you and your family to enjoy!

Download Print & Play Activities

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE opens in theaters on July 18, 2014!

Like PLANES on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPlanes

Follow PLANES on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyPictures

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Family Discussion Guide & Prize Pack Giveaway #Spiderman

We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2™, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.

I have been a Spider-man fan for as long as I can remember. I even dressed as Spider-man for Halloween, two years in a row. Wearing that costume, while running through our backyard and jumping out of our tree is still one of my favorite childhood memories.

Knowing that even the best of movies can bring up important issues, I have the below family discussion guide to share with my readers. Just click on the image to down the .pdf file.

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Family Discussion Guide
The discussion guide for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great resource for families to discuss a range of important themes that include the relationship between personal choices and destiny, living a life that counts, sacrificing yourself in service to others, and the nature of power. This guide will help parents start (or continue) conversations with their children that will inspire them to think outside themselves and challenge them to live lives that matter. The conversations that will result from using this guide will reveal that even the most explosive summer blockbuster can leave lasting, positive impacts on its young viewers.

We downloaded the guide and had a great in-depth discussion with our girls. One I’m glad we had. It’s nice to know that your family is all on the same page when it comes to important issues.

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Enter to win a The Amazing Spider-man 2 Prize Pack!
Prize pack includes: t-shirt, paper mask and phone case.

Enter to win by using the widget below. If you have any issue with the widget or would prefer to enter by email, please contact me at shakingit@gmail.com. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email on May 2, 2014. Must have a valid email address to enter. Must be 18+ and live within the U.S or Canada to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Bunnyville & Door to Door Organics @ The Detroit Zoo #Bunnyville #joydelivered #Detroit

An “egg-stravaganza” of family fun is planned for the Detroit Zoo’s 23rdannual Bunnyville celebration. This year, the Zoo will have two days of bunny fun on Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19, 2014, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bunnyville features a golden egg hunt with great prizes, the Jelly Bean Jamboree, Funny Bunny Games, springtime crafts, whisker painting and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny (available for purchase) along with treats, live entertainment, animal enrichment activities, zookeeper talks and much more.

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Bunnyville visitors are encouraged to bring a canned or other non-perishable food item to be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank. Each guest with a food donation will receive a reduced admission price of $8, parking not included. Admission for Detroit Zoological Society Members is free, but Members are encouraged to bring food donations.

Have you heard? The Detroit Zoo has partnered with Door to Door Organics!

Did you know you can dye eggs naturally with fruits and veggies? DIY dyes that are kid-friendly and eco-friendly. Click the below infographic for instructions courtesy of Door to Door Organics.

Go Eco When Easter Egg Dyeing Infographic

Don’t miss Bunnyville at the Detroit Zoo:
When: Friday, April 18th and Saturday, April 19th
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FTC Disclosure: This information is being shared as part of an on going relationship with the Detroit Zoo in which free event passes or products are received. All opinions expressed remain my own and honest. This post contains no affiliate links.

EZ Buy Direct, find your case online for less. Review & Giveaway

If you have a teenager with a smartphone or tablet in the house, then you already know all about the selfie! Kids will twist and turn and reach in all kinds of directions to get the photo opp. Putting their phones at risk to be dropped.

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While owning tech toys like smartphones and tablets is fun for kids, it can be of importance for us as parents. Like having the freedom to connect with our teens at anytime. But, we all know these items don’t come cheap! So, protecting them with a case, is a must in our house.

We recently received the below Soft White Case for our daughter’s iPhone 5C to review. It might not look like much, but the TPU material keeps the phone protected from scratches, and helps her keep a firm grip at any angle, like during selfies, or quick photos on the go.

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The snug fit prevents dirt and dust from getting inside the case. Side openings and bumper buttons lets her lock and unlock the phone, plug in and listen to music, charge or use a dock without having to remove the case. Unlike our experience with a much expensive case. It had to be removed every time she wanted to use her dock.

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Our daughter has been using this case for over two weeks and has no complaints. When asked, she referred to it as perfect, and just the case she had wanted.

Are you putting your device at risk by not using a case? This could change! The generous people at EZ Buys Direct would like to send one Five Dollar Shake reader the phone or tablet case of their choice.

Enter to win by using the widget below. If you have any issue with the widget or would prefer to enter by email, please contact me at shakingit@gmail.com. One winner will chosen at random and contacted by email on May 7th. Valid email address is required to enter. Must be 18+ and live with in the U.S. to win. No PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclosure: Free product was received for the purpose of this blog post. All opinions expressed and photos used are honest and my own. Except the photos I swiped from my daughter’s Facebook page.

The Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest

A HOT ARM COULD LEAD TO A COOL MILLION! DISNEY’S MILLION DOLLAR ARM PITCHING CONTEST OFFERS A CHANCE TO WIN $1 MILLION.

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Contestants Can Test Their Fastball Skills at Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif., ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida or the Tribeca Family Festival in New York.

Nine Finalists Will Advance to the Final Contest Held at Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” World Premiere in Hollywood, California.

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Disney is giving amateur baseball pitchers in the nation a chance to compete for a $1 million prize in the Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest. The Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest is being held to celebrate the opening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm,” an incredible true story about two young men who went from never throwing a baseball to getting a Major League tryout.

Amateur baseball pitchers—male or female, who are legal United States residents at least 18 years of age or older—are invited to qualify to compete in the preliminary rounds of the Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest at either Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida, Disneyland® Resort in California or at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day at the Tribeca Family Festival in New York City. The three contestants from each location who throw the fastest pitches will advance to the finals and have a chance to compete for a $1 million prize at the world premiere of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” in Hollywood, California. Official rules are available on Disney.com’s “Million Dollar Arm” homepage at http://disney.com/PitchingContest.

Presented by SUBWAY® restaurants, the three qualifying events will take place on April 25 and 26, from 7 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at both Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif. and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World® and on April 26 only, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day during the Tribeca Family Festival in New York City. Contestants will throw three pitches, each tracked by a radar gun, in an attempt to throw the fastest pitch. All participants will receive tickets for themselves and a guest to see an advance screening of Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” at an AMC Theatres location later that evening.