Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Rare quiet moments

I took this picture in January of 2013 when Connor was only 3 months old:


This is how I found them this morning:
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Thomas the Tank Engine Toddler Bed Giveaway!

Are you ready for another amazing giveaway? I wish I could win this toddler bed for my kids. I think they would fight over who would get to sleep in it every night!


Welcome to the Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™ Giveaway, hosted by Thrifty Nifty Mommy and Viva Veltoro and sponsored by Step2!

Is your little one ready to transition to a toddler bed? Have another baby coming and need to free up your crib? Let Thomas the Tank help your child drift off into dreamland! Details of the Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™ (obtained from the Step2 website):
All aboard to dreamland in the Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™ by Step2. Little train conductors will love that this bed resembles their favorite tank engine. This train bed promotes imaginative play as kids pretend to go on an adventure with Thomas along the island of Sodor. The Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed is the cutest train bed you’ve ever seen! Made in USA with imported parts.
  • Three dimensional friendly face
  • Realistic train decals
  • Storage compartment behind the smoke stack
  • Fits standard toddler/crib mattress making the transition from crib to bed easy and fun!
  • Adult assembly required
  • Recommended for ages 2 and up
  • Available exclusively at Toys "R" Us for $199.99
Check out this fun bed in action!

One lucky reader will WIN the Step2 Thomas the Tank Engine™ Toddler Bed™!
Open to the Continental US only. Ends 9/10/14 at 11:59 PM EST. Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck!

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by the Step2 Company. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, or Instagram. Please contact vivaveltoro{at}gmail.com with any questions about this giveaway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Toddler Fun Tuesday: How to make DIY shaped homemade crayons!

How to make crayons shapes

If you have toddlers in your house, I'm sure you have plenty of broken crayons. I know that I have a huge Ziploc bag full! Today, I'm sharing a fun project for kids young and old to give new life to those broken crayons.

For her Christmas presents to her siblings and cousins, my niece Emma (with some help from my mom) made heart shaped crayons and personalized coloring books. My mom took pictures to document the process so I could share it with all of my readers.

First, they removed the paper from the crayon pieces. Lesson learned: Crayola's are by far the easiest to remove the paper from. They filled the silicone molds with the pieces. They made hearts, but there are so many shape choices available at Amazon or your local craft store.
Use as many or as few colors as you would like. I personally love the combination of lots of different colors.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

 Place the mold on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 15-20 minutes (until they are melted)

Let the crayons completely cool and then pop them out of the molds. If they stick at all, place the mold in the freezer for an hour and then they should pop right out.

Emma with the completed project:

Yes, she's a goofball! :) Grace and the other kids loved their personalized gifts and Emma loved making them. Homemade crayons would also make great party favors. This is a project I will be doing with Grace in the near future!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School with Oliver's Labels Giveaway!

Disclosure: I received a school package of labels from Oliver's Labels in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and 100% my own. 


Grace starts preschool in the next couple of weeks and she is ready! Every day she gets dressed, puts on her backpack, and tells me "go to preschool now mom!" She might be ready but I'm not sure I am. Before she starts school, I want to make sure that all of her items are labeled so that we don't lose anything. Oliver's Labels recently contacted me about reviewing their School Package and I was excited because I've heard amazing things about their labels from some of my mom friends. They allowed me to customize a school package for Grace and I'm beyond thrilled with the result!

Oliver's Labels offers several different packages to choose from including starter, school, and camp packages. You can also order each product individually. There are many great designs to choose from including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bubble Guppies, Eric Carle, and Dora. There are honestly so many adorable designs that Grace was overwhelmed when I let her choose her labels. Lucky for us, the best part about ordering a package is that you can choose as many designs and fonts as you want. It is all totally custom! 

Grace finally settled upon Eric Carle, Bubble Guppies, and Princess labels. I was able to fully customize the text and decided to keep the labels simple with just her name. With the school package, we received:

20 original labels- These are perfect for lunchboxes, school supplies, and books!

35 Stick-eez™ Clothing Labels- I love that these labels are easy to apply and last through washing. 

30 Mini Labels- These would be great for pens and pencils and other small school supplies. I actually am using most of these to label Grace's bows and headbands. She loves wearing them but she rarely keeps them on more than a few hours and I don't want to lose our entire collection at preschool! 

6 Shoe Labels- I actually ordered another set of these because Grace has way too many shoes! 

3 Mini Bag Tags and 1 Large Bag Tag- These tags are good quality plastic and easily attach to the bags. 

Oliver's Labels offers an additional "Found It" feature on most of their labels that I really appreciate. It is totally free and is an exclusive lost and found system. If someone finds your item, they can enter the code into the website and Oliver's Labels will email you right away.

All of the labels we received are extremely high quality. The colors are bright and the labels are easy to apply. Grace has worn the shoes multiples times and the labels are still sticking with no peeling. If you're looking for labels for your kids for back to school, check out all of the great designs at Oliver's Labels!

Giveaway

Oliver's Labels is giving one of my readers a School Package, valued at $41.99. This package contains:
  • 20 x Original Labels
  • 35 x Stick-eez™ Clothing Labels
  • 30 x Mini Labels
  • 6 x Shoe Labels
  • 1 x Large Bag Tag
  • 3 x Mini Bag Tags

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 Monday, September 8th at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. Winners may only win one School Package from Oliver's Labels during this campaign. If you have one this prize from another blog, please do not enter. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you Oliver's Labels for the labels. Now hopefully Grace doesn't lose anything at preschool! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Grace's Haircut and Donation!

Just over two years ago, I posted pictures of Grace's very first haircut. She was a year and a half old and her hair only reached just past her ears.


For two years, I never did more than trim it. And this was what it looked like yesterday:

Long and beautiful. She constantly told me that she loved her long hair until a few months ago when I decided to cut mine shoulder length. I cut nearly 8 inches off and she was shocked when I came back home. Immediately, she asked to get her hair cut short like mine. I have to be honest, I didn't do it for several months because:
1. I love her long hair.
2. I was afraid she'd change her mind right afterwards
3. She normally fights and cries during quick trims, so I thought a full cut might be a disaster.

But after weeks of begging me to get her haircut, we finally went yesterday.

I planned on getting her hair cut to her shoulders, similar to mine. When the stylist started measuring how much she was going to cut, she mentioned that if we cut it just a bit shorter, she could donate it to Locks of Love. When I explained to Grace that she would be able to give her hair to another little girl that needed it, she immediately smiled and said "yes, I do that!" We've been talking a lot lately about giving things to other kids who need them and I was so proud of her when she was excited about donating her hair. The stylist put her hair in ponytails and when she made the first cut, I almost cried. Much to my surprise, Grace was excited with a smile on her face the entire time. She let us take pictures and did everything the stylist asked her to do.


When the cut was done, she even let her blow dry it and put a braid in. I was completely shocked and pleasantly surprised by how well she did.


She even got a certificate for donating her hair and she is so proud of it. It is currently hanging on the fridge.

As soon as Mike came in the door from work, she ran to him shouting "look at my haircut, short like mommy's!" I miss her long hair, but I know it went towards a good cause. Plus it's much easier to wash and brush now. It makes her look so much older ::tear::. I know she's excited to start preschool soon with her new big girl haircut.

Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 Giveaway!

I recently bought a Baby Jogger Double City Mini stroller and I honestly cannot say enough amazing things about this brand. I am excited to join with a group of great bloggers to give you a chance to win a Baby Jogger stroller!


Welcome to the Baby Jogger Summit X3 Giveaway! hosted by Viva Veltoro & Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and generously sponsored by PishPoshBaby!

PishPoshBaby is the #1 online baby shop for all of your needs as a parent or caregiver. They offer top of the line baby brands with top notch customer service to go along with it. Their goal is to give you clarity, confidence, and comfort when making important and significant purchases for your precious little one. Speaking of important purchasing decisions, strollers can be a big investment. With so many to choose from, it's wonderful that PishPoshBaby has their team of "Mom Reps" available to guide you through the choices and give you feedback on which strollers might suit your needs best. Ruth from Viva Veltoro recently had the opportunity to review the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from PishPoshBaby and she couldn't be more pleased with this fabulous jogging stroller. Make sure you check out the full review to see all of the great features of this high-quality stroller!


Here is a little bit of info about the Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 from the PishPoshBaby website:

Go anywhere with this highly maneuverable hybrid jogger/stroller. With its all-wheel suspension, the Summit X3 provides exceptional performance on any terrain. A remote wheel lock on the handlebar allows you to easily shift between jogging and strolling.

Features:
  • Patented Quick-Fold Technology--allows you to fold your stroller in one step
  • Universal Accessory Mounting Bracket: accessorize your stroller with ease
  • Remote action swivel lock to lock the front wheel for jogging exercise
  • All-wheel independent suspension
  • Hand-operated rear drum brakes for increased control on hilly terrain
  • 16" rear and 12" front quick-release pneumatic wheels with sealed ball bearings
  • Padded seat with additional support reclines to a near flat position
  • Vented seat recline with retractable weather cover
  • Ergonomic handlebar with wipe-clean grip
  • Multi-position sun canopy with peek-a-boo windows and side ventilation panels
  • Seat back storage compartment and large under seat storage basket
  • Adjustable 5-point safety harness with shoulder pads
  • Rear parking brake
  • Removable auto-lock to keep stroller folded for transportation or storage
PishPoshbaby is going to give one lucky reader a Baby Jogger Summit X3 2014 in their choice of color (valued at $429)!

Open to residents of the United States, ages 18 and up. Ends on 9/7/14 at 11:59 PM EDT. Enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below. Good luck!

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for hosting this giveaway. Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy, and the participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact vivaveltoro(at)gmail.com with questions about this giveaway.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Robot Turtles Review: The Game for Little Programmers


Disclosure: I received Robot Turtles for free from ThinkFun in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and honest.

Board games are a big deal in our house. Mike is what you would call a gamer (mostly PC) but he also loves strategy based board games. I have to admit that strategy games are not my strong suit, but I play with him occasionally. He is a computer programmer/software engineer by trade and when I heard about a game called Robot Turtles designed to help teach preschoolers the basics of programming, I knew that he would love it.

Robot Turtles was invented by Dan Shapiro, a Seattle software entrepreneur, for his 4-year old twins. Dan wanted to give his kids the superpower anyone could wish for - an understanding of computer programming. The most-backed board game in Kickstarter history, (it) raised over $630,000 from parents who believe in coding literacy. 

I believe it is extremely important for our kids to learn how to code to prepare themselves for our increasingly technology based workforce. Preschoolers are so eager to learn so it's a great time to start teaching them the basics. ThinkFun sent us a game to try with Grace. The game is aimed at preschoolers over 4 and with Grace's love of board games, I figured we'd try it since she's only a few months away from turning 4.


During Connor's nap time, Grace was excited to try a new game. She helped me get the board set up and was a huge fan of the "sparkly turtles" as she called them. She enjoyed picking out her colored turtle and played with him while I read the rules.

She was ready to play! Honestly, I didn't expect the game to last very long. We have never worked on right/left directions with her and that is what the game is based on. But obviously the creator of this game, Dan Shiparo, has kids, as the instructions actually say that this is a great way to teach those directions and to start with just the basic game play to allow kids to get the hang of the rules. As your kids master the basic concepts, there are many options to make the game more challenging.

The goal of the game is to get your turtle to the jewel in the middle of the board. You take turns laying out your directional cards to move your turtle through the spaces. I showed her what the different cards meant and overall she did great!

She's still not so sure about moving her turtle only one space at a time, but we're working on it! She loved laying her cards out and it was fun to show her how her line of cards had gotten her turtle to it's jewel.

The game can be short or long depending on how many obstacles you add to the board. The basic game is perfect for a preschooler's attention span. They don't realize that they're learning the fundamentals of programming. By laying down each card, they are learning how to use commands and create a line of code. The rules allow children to fix their cards if they made a mistake, which teaches them the basic concepts of debugging. As you add more challenges, kids learn to visualize solutions and break the problem down into smaller steps. For more information about how Robot Turtles teaches programming skills, check out their website.

This is a game that we will play for years to come and I know Mike is planning to use it with both kids to teach them strategy. To learn more about this game or to purchase one for your family, check out ThinkFun's website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to ThinkFun for sending us a copy of Robot Turtle. Grace begs to play it every day! 
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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