Sunday, December 21, 2014

Can we go see Santa, please, please, pleassssssssssse?

That is all I've heard for weeks. Every time we saw a Santa figurine, picture, or movie, Grace would start to beg "Please, can we go see Santa? I want to see Santa!" Now let me start by saying we don't really do Santa in our house. I never grew up believing in him and don't really get the point (yes I know some of you are scoffing at me right now about ruining the magic of Christmas, but I still don't get it!) Grace doesn't normally like costumed characters anyway so this fascination with Santa surprised me. I'm guessing her friends at school were talking about going to see him so I promised her we could go.

Grandma Barb went to get a pass for us one morning (thank you Bass Pro for doing passes instead of making us wait forever!) and I got them all dressed up in their Christmas outfits. On the way there, Grace wouldn't stop talking about telling Santa what she wanted for Christmas. Her list included: a horse, a baby, and a pink train. The excitement lasted until we got to the front of the line. Then this happened:

Oh yes, they cried. Grace absolutely refused to talk to him and wouldn't even look at him when he gave her a candy cane. Now for all of you worried that I've traumatized my children, I promise you they are fine. Grandma had made an effort to get the pass and Grace had begged for this, so we got our picture. She thinks it's funny now and tells people "I cried on Santa's lap, I don't know why. So funny."

Within a few seconds they were back to normal and had fun checking out all of the other fun activities Bass Pro had set up.


The train was a massive hit and I absolutely love this picture:

They absoultely loved the shooting range and I'm sure this is a picture that would make papa proud:

So overall not a total waste of a trip but I don't know if we'll be doing a Santa visit again next year!

Did your kids see Santa this year? What do they want for Christmas?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Berenstain Bears: God Loves You! + Family Christian $25 Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received this book and an appreciation certificate from Family Christian to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

When you're 2 and 3 years old like my kids, it's the end of the world every time you don't get something you want. Throughout the day I frequently deal with tantrums stemming from a denied snack or from one taking a toy from the other. And despite my best efforts, it can be hard to keep my cool all the time. Grace is a very sensitive soul and cries when she gets in trouble. So the inevitable question came up the other day after I put her in time out for what seemed like the hundredth time that day, "do you still love me mommy?" With tears in my eyes, I explained that I will always love her no matter what. That seemed to satisfy her and we moved on with our day.

We recently received The Berenstain Bears: God Loves You from Family Christian to review and it is the perfect book for some of our daily struggles.

In this book, Brother and Sister Bear try out for the basketball team and school play only to be given jobs different than the ones they wanted. They are upset that the adults in charge didn't give them the roles they desired and start complaining about the results. Their parents remind them that they each received important jobs despite them not being exactly what they wanted. The story then veers into a discussion about their parents loving them no matter what and in end, a rainbow reminds them that God loves us.

Grace enjoyed reading this book and told me she likes the pictures.

I've always been a huge Berenstain Bears fan because of the wholesome messages and beautiful artwork.

I also appreciate that the end of the book features questions and talking points to help parents talk through the message of the book.

Family Christian offers a wide variety of Berenstain Bears Books to choose from for your child. Connect with Family Christian on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about their great products.

Giveaway

Family Christian is generously giving one of my readers a $25 appreciation certificate! 

How to Enter: 
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter. The giveaway runs through Tuesday, December 30th at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to residents of the US ages 18+.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

All Hail King Julien: Ringing in the New Year With the Biggest Party Animal + 1 Year Netflix Subscription Giveaway!

Disclosure: As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I received a welcome gift and a free monthly subscription. However, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.



"I like to move it, move it."

If your kids love the Madagascar movies, get ready for an all new totally original, hilarious and insane new series on Netflix, All Hail King Julien. My kids love King Julien and are so excited to see the first five episodes on January 19th.



Netflix sent a fun New Year's Eve party kit to help us ring in the new year with King Julien as he's obviously the biggest party animal ever! Grace is ready to celebrate:
She doesn't quite understand why we're supposed to wait until New Year's Eve to use the noisemakers. While we're getting ready to celebrate the New Year King Julien style, we'll be enjoying some of Netflix's holiday offerings that are perfect for a family movie night.

The Madagascar holiday shorts are absolutely hilarious. With tons of fun King Julien and penguin antics, these shorts are sure to be a hit with kids and adults:
Madagascar

If you are searching for other family holiday movies on Netflix, check out these selections for kids. We have watched Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas more times that I'd like to admit and the songs are extremely catchy. I find myself singing "Christmas Monkey" without realizing it and the kids love watching George's funny adventures. 
Curious George
mumfie
in search of santa
veggie

And for the teens and parents, check out these movies and episodes that would be perfect for date night. Love Actually is one of my all time favorite movies and I will definitely be watching it soon.
love
70136120 3360608
70011207 3405887
70140358 9597349
Give the gift of Netflix this holiday season! With a Netflix gift card, your family and friends can watch TV shows and movies, anytime, anywhere. They can be purchased at retailers nationwide (find a retailer here) and check out the gift card FAQs for more information.
Giveaway

Netflix generously sent me a one year subscription gift card to give away to one lucky reader! If you've never tried Netflix before, this is the perfect way to experience it for an entire year. If you are already a Netflix member, you will get your next year free! 

How to Enter: 
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter. The giveaway runs through Tuesday, December 30th at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to residents of the US ages 18+.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Holiday Gift Guide: Winning Moves Games + Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received these games from Winning Moves to faciliate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

Mike and I love playing board games together. We are pretty competitive and you can frequently find us playing late into the night after the kids go to bed. We have a large collection in our closet but love to add new games anytime we can. Now that Grace is starting to think about actually playing some games by the rules, we are slowly expanding our games for kids selection as well. I think board games are amazing gifts for all ages and I'm excited to share one of the leading makers of games in today's Holiday Gift Guide post.

Winning Moves was created in 1995 by four game industry professionals including the long-time head of research and development for Parker Brothers (also the leading expert on the game Monopoly), the long-time head of research and development for Milton Bradley, one of the most successful game agents in history for "discovering" Erno Rubik and the Rubik's® Cube in the late 1970's, and one of Europe's most distinguished game inventors. Those are some impressive resumes! These guys obviously know what they're talking about when it comes to games and Winning Moves offers some of the best classic, retro, cool and fun games out there. They are also the exclusive makers of many timeless classics like Pit®Classic Monopoly®Classic Clue®Parcheesi® Royal Edition, and Classic Yahtzee®.

Winning Moves generously sent us Classic Clue, Throw 'n Go! Jenga, and two of their Splash Cards games, Splash Pals and Splashimals

I have fond memories of playing Clue growing up and I am excited to share it with my kids in a few years. With the classic board and cards, this is the exact version I played growing up!

Jenga was a favorite of mine as a teenager and it is back with new colors and a new rules twist in Throw 'n Go! Jenga . You can play the traditional way or roll the dice to add a fun new element. The dice tells you which colors and how many blocks to remove and even gives you the chance to turn play back to another player.

The new rules are fun and easy. Jenga is a great party game but is also fun for just two people!

Winning Moves has a new line of card games called Splash Cards that are waterproof and that float. They are perfect for the bath, pool, beach or hot tub and can easily be disinfected. I chose two of the kid's Splash Cards, Splashimals and Splash Pals.


Each card of the Splashimals set features half of an animal and part of the animal's name. My kids love matching the pieces of the animals and it is a great introduction to animal names for Connor and spelling for Grace. They had a great time playing with them both in and out of the tub and I was impressed by how well the cards stuck to the tub walls.

The Splash Pals set features different body sections of various pals so that kids can mix and match to create their own special pal!
Each Splash Card set comes in a mesh bag perfect for storage. The mesh allows excess water to drip out. I wish that there was a fabric loop at the top of the bag so that I could hang it in the tub to let the water drain out. Splash Card sets are only $15.95 each and would make perfect stocking stuffers.

Winning Moves features your favorite classic board games and many new fun options to discover. Games are great gifts for both kids and adults and are the perfect way to spend time together as a family this holiday season. Learn more about Winning Moves and their great games at their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. For every 10 likes to their Facebook page through December 31st, Winning Moves will donate 1 toy to Toys for Tots of Garrett County, MD so go like their page now to help them beat their donation last year of over 700 games and toys!

Giveaway
Winning Moves Games is offering one of my lucky readers $50 to spend at http://winning-moves.com/

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway.  Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter.  The giveaway runs through Tuesday, December 30th at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to residents of the US ages 18+.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 12, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: KISS InstaWave Automatic Curler

Disclosure: I received a Kiss InstaWave to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

When my kids were younger, I was lucky to get my hair washed, much less styled. But now that they are getting older, I'm taking more time to take better care of myself and part of that includes doing my hair (most days)! I've always had stick straight hair that my friends were actually jealous of. But I am not a fan of it because it can be difficult to get a style to stay in it. Curl normally falls out within minutes without an entire bottle of hairspray. I've seen the products on TV that say they will help achieve the perfect curl and to be honest, I was skeptical. My styling abilities are lacking and I don't have hours to spend perfecting a look, but when KISS offered to send me their InstaWave to try, I decided it was worth a try!

Before Grace's preschool program yesterday, I decided to test it out and I was shocked by the results:

The InstaWave is a fully automatic tangle-free curler that will create beautiful, long lasting curls with the touch of a button.

It has two heat settings on a high/low switch with a maximum temperature of 420 degrees. It automatically shuts off after 90 minutes so there's no need to freak out if you forget to turn it off!

The InstaWave can be used at any angle with either hand. To use, you simply hold it vertically and place a small section of hair on it. By touching the curling dial either left or right, it will automatically begin to spin and catch the hair, curling it around the barrel.

Then hold it still for 5-10 seconds depending on how tight you want your curls to be and then pull straight down vertically to release the hair. For the most natural curls, switch between curling left and right.

I will say it took me several tries to get the angle just right for my hair length. At the beginning I didn't place it close enough to my head and so only the ends were getting curled. My hair is thin and so it took some trial and error for it to catch my hair correctly. Once I figured it out, I was able to do my entire head of hair in under 10 minutes. This was my finished look:
Mike was pleasantly surprised when he got home and told me I should use the InstaWave more often! I was amazed that the curls lasted all evening and I still had gentle waves in the morning when I woke up. The KISS InstaWave definitely worked for me and it would make a perfect gift this holiday season. Learn more about the KISS InstaWave at their website and like them on Facebook and Twitter.

I received a Kiss InstaWave to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Mottos Flip Flops with Snap In Charms + Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received a set of Mottos Flip Flops and charms to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

As Grace is getting older, she is expressing herself more and more. But often she gets frustrated because she can't figure out how to put her emotions into words and she gets overwhelmed. The next product in my Holiday Gift Guide is a fun, creative solution to this problem that your kids are sure to love! Aimed at kids ages 3-9, Mottos Flip Flops allow kids to express their feelings, likes, and style all with their unique snap in, snap out Mottos charms.

With an adorable assortment of charms offered, your child can add the charms that appeal to them that day. This video shows just how easy it is:

We received a set of flip flops and the complete collection of charms to review. The flip flops arrived in this adorable retro lunchbox:


The lunchbox features a display area for all of the charms making it convenient and easy to store them. The flip flops include 2 charms and the rest are available to purchase additionally. Since these charms are small, this is a perfect way to store them up away from little siblings!

With charms featuring different emotions, a child can express their feelings visually by adding that charm to their flip flop.  Grace helped me pick each of the charms to add to the pair we received. These are going to be a Christmas gift for my 6 year old niece because she adores flip flops so it was fun to accessorize them for her. The charms are very easy to snap on and off. Grace loved all of the cute characters and told me that her cousin will love them.

The lunchbox also includes a sturdy nylon bag so kids can bring their collection with them to the beach or on their travels.

I love that the flip flops are gender neutral and come in a wide variety of sizes. They are made with high quality materials so they will last and Mottos even backs them up with a full 90-day, no hassle, free replacement guarantee. Mottos is dedicated to helping children express themselves and they pride themselves in a high quality product.

While it might be cold in most of the country now, it won't be long before flip flop season and your child will love their own set of Mottos flip flops! I can't wait to see my niece's reaction when she opens them on Christmas morning. Mottos are available to purchase from Amazon and from the Mottos website. Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about this fun gift idea!

Giveaway
Mottos is generously giving one of my readers a pair of Mottos flip flops and charms set like the one we received. 

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway.  Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter.  The giveaway runs through Sunday, December 21st at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is open to residents of the US ages 18+.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Holiday Gift Guide: Rosetta Stone Kids Reading

Disclosure: I received a year subscription to Rosetta Stone Kids Reading to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own and honest. 

Grace is loving preschool and I've excited by how much she's learning every day. Lately, she's been fascinated by letters and how they go together. I know it won't be long before she's reading and I can't wait to hear her read me a book. Right now, we're working on the basics and I was intrigued when I first received an email from Rosetta Stone telling me about their new Kids Reading program. I have used Rosetta Stone's language program in the past to work on my french and I've had great success with it. I know of their excellent reputation in the technology based learning world and I was thrilled to get the chance to try the new reading program with Grace.


Developed with education experts, Rosetta Stone® Kids Reading introduces and reinforces core reading skills in engaging, self-paced interactive learning experiences personalized for each child. Our products are designed to help kids become confident, successful readers—and develop a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

Check out this video from Rosetta Stone about the new program:

Rosetta Stone Kids Reading can be used on a computer or on a tablet. I downloaded the app on our iPad and set up her profile in the Parent Corner. It gives you the option of manually setting your child's level or basing it on their age. I set it manually for level 1 since she is still in the beginning stages of recognizing letters. Here are the key skills that kids can work on in the program:

Pre-K:
  • Print Awareness
  • Shape Recognition 
  • Early Vocabulary Development 
  • Listening Skills 
Kindergarten
  • Letter Names 
  • Rhyming and Sound Awareness 
  • Letter Sounds and Beginning Phonics 
  • Sight Words 
  • Early Comprehension Skills 
1st Grade
  • Advanced Phonics 
  • Spelling Word Meanings 
  • Reading Comprehension
This program offers tons of games and activities. The "Lingos" are super cute characters that guide kids through the program and Grace loves her pink Lingo icon. She started with level 1 of each activity and quickly discovered that she enjoys the sorting game the most. The games adapted to her developmental stages by working on shapes, colors, and letters. Each activity goes through several questions to finish the level. If they get the question right, the child is immediately rewarded with a positive affirmation. If they miss it, they get another chance. If they miss twice, several of the Lingos come out with a chalkboard to help explain the concept of the question. Then the child is given another chance to answer the question. Grace responded really well to the Lingos and when she finished each level, she would cheer "I did it!" and dance along as Skippy, the blue Lingo does his happy dance. Seriously it's impossible not to smile at this cute little guy!
She was easily able to figure out how to switch between activities and happily played games through Connor's entire nap. This program really focuses on getting kids to listen to the instructions which is great for Grace's age. At the beginning, she would hit random buttons and get frustrated when she got the answer wrong. After several reminders to listen to the instructions, she waited and started getting the correct answers. For a busy three year old, this is great for helping her with her listening skills!


My favorite activity was the story section which asked extremely basic reading comprehension questions. The app read her a 2 page version of "The Three Little Kittens" and asked her to identify where the title was, where the mom cat was, where the words on the page were, etc. This is such a great way to introduce reading comprehension at such a young age.

After she was done for the day, I was able to sign into Parent's Corner and view her progress:

I'm looking forward to seeing her progress through the program and I know it would be a great supplement for any child that is learning to read. It is made for kids ages 3-7 and offers 10 levels for kids to work through. You can purchase a one month subscription for $19.99 or a 12 month subscription for $99.00. For $119.00, you receive a 12 month subscription plus a special edition Rosetta Stone Kids Storybook and gift box carrying case.

Give the gift of learning to read this holiday season with Rosetta Stone Kids Reading! Learn more and purchase the program now and follow Rosetta Stone on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you Rosetta Stone for letting Grace try this fun program. 


LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...