The Game Gal story

So if you don’t know, Josh and I have a blog that we run called the Game Gal. On it I post fun family games, like games you play at family reunions and FHE and Girls’ Camp and EFY. Like pictionary and charades and missionary tag and capture the flag and all the classics.

I’ve always loved playing those sorts of games. (On my study abroad in Spain, we got awards at the end of our semester there and I was given the “gamer” award because I was always suggesting a game to play.) I had a list built up in a Word doc on my computer, because I liked to collect these games and didn’t want to forget them.

The actual blog started years ago, before Carson was born. It was the summer that Josh did an internship in Dallas. I was working remotely from our extended-stay hotel in Dallas and, without a calling or friends or much of a life, I had a lot of time on my hands. At some point during the summer, I started talking to Josh about my list of games and possibly starting a blog to document and sort them. He was super supportive and got me set up with a WordPress blog. He also encouraged me to create my own artwork for each post. I posted a lot that summer and slowly started building up content.

I never really expected anyone to read the blog. I mean, I guess I hoped people would. What new blogger doesn’t, right? But I didn’t expect anyone to. And I don’t think anyone really did, until I did a post on pictionary and I thought, “Hey, maybe I could make a list of pictionary words that people could download and print off!”

That pictionary post started attracting visitors. It surprised Josh and I. We didn’t know pictionary words would be so popular. But they apparently were!

Because people seemed to like the pictionary words, it led me to creating more printable word lists, and then printable word lists for other games like charades. And that led Josh and I to create what we called the “word generator,” which is basically like a giant online word list that gives you one word at a time when you click. I sorted words by category and I made holiday word lists and I kept posting new games, and Josh ran the technological side of the site, and it was all very exciting stuff. Josh even made an iPhone app of the word generator.

Soon Josh and I realized that around the holidays, traffic boomed. There was always a spike of pageviews and visitors on Halloween. Another slightly larger one on Thanksgiving. An even bigger one on Christmas. And then, on New Year’s Eve, each year I always hit a new all-time blog traffic high. Yay! Like I said, exciting times.

Well, over the past few years, life has gotten pretty busy. I’ve been involved in lots of other projects, like working for my mom as she started her own business. I did more creative writing than I had in the past. There were callings, and Carson started preschool. And, probably most of all, I was struggling for a long time to get over postpartum depression. Game Gal blogging definitely took a backseat.

Last year (as the holidays approached, in fact) both Josh and I seemed to remember that we’ve got this great blog and app and people are still visiting it. The app had actually just barely broken due to a iOS update (after the app had been running strong, 100 percent untouched, for the past three years), and Josh hurried to get a new version out and I hurried to get at least a little new content up. And it’s all been rewarding because this past New Year’s Eve, we again hit an all-time traffic high. At one point there were this many people on the site at one time:

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Wow, right? It’s been fun to almost rediscover this blog and to get excited about posting again. (Even if I sometimes still feel like I never have enough time to do so.) I really do love games like the ones on my blog, and I love getting comments from parents throwing parties, ESL teachers, camp counselors, and just groups of friends saying thank you for the game ideas or word lists. It’s been a really rewarding project.

I’m glad it’s been rewarding in that sense because, when Josh and I tell our friends and family about this blog and all the traffic we get, their first response is usually an excited, “Do you make any money from it?” To which the answer is…well, no. Not really. A little, I guess. But that’s okay, right? Maybe it will change one day. For now, I’m just thrilled to have gotten so many visitors last year. Hopefully 2016 will be another year of Game Gal success!

Lone stars and lonely stars

Ever since Carson learned about the state of Texas in preschool last year, any time he and Annelise see the Texas flag, they yell excitedly, “The lone star!”

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Texas, the Lone Star state. Nice that they can identify the flag, right? And makes me as a Texan proud. But I was a little confused by their tendency to blurt out, “The lonely stars!” any time they saw the American flag.

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I kept trying to correct what I thought was a mistake until they finally offered an explanation. Apparently all the little stars on the American flag are lonely because their dad (the Lone Star) is away, off adorning the Texas flag. Makes perfect sense, right? 😂