Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Deep Black Pond: Book Review

I'm so used to reading non-fiction books with my 7-year-old, that when I first heard the title The Deep Black Pond, I automatically assumed it was a book about fish and other water critters. But after reading more about the book, I learned it was a very imaginative tale by Morgan Kostival.The Deep Black Pond is the story of fantastic critters living in a pond in the middle of a tropical island. You won't find your typical animals on this island. However, you may find a fish with a glowing eye, a queen with a mask of solid gold, or a warrior with an entire village of Peewees on his shoulders.

It's one of these Peewees that becomes the star of the story. When little Mimi falls off the edge of the city, she changes everything in the pond. She brings the characters together and gets them to cooperate after years of distrust.

Kostival not only authored the book, he also created and photographed the images throughout the story.

Buy It:
The Deep Black Pond is available for $18.00

A copy of the book was provided for review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure House Party

We've seen commercials for Skylanders Spyro's Adventure many times in the last month, and every time my son has told me how much he wanted to play it. When I heard about the Skylanders Spyro's Adventure House Party, I jumped at the chance to be a host.

Our party kit included a Skylanders Spyro's Adventure Starter Pack, game posters, figurines, and an educational DVD. The starter pack is made up of the Wii game, 3 figures, 3 trading cards, and the magical Power Portal that allows the figures to come to life within the game.
The game is perfect for kids 6-12, but apparently just as popular with grownups. Our party included kids of all ages, and every single one had a blast playing. The kids took turns using their figures and when they weren't playing on the Wii, they were playing a game of imaginary Skylanders on the other side of the living room.
To get in the party spirit, my 7 year old helped me make snacks for all his friends. We had Camo Krispies (aka Rice Krispie Treats), Eruptor's Fire Balls (cheese balls), and Chop Chop Cookies (chocolate chunk cookies). To drink, we offered Cynder Cider (apple cider) and Prism Break Punch (Hi-C).
I heard yesterday from another mom that Skylanders Spyro's Adventure was her daughter's new favorite game. And after our House Party was officially over on Saturday, I caught my hubby and another dad playing the game on their own.

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure has been called one of the hot toys for Christmas this year, and I can see why. With so many fun and intriguing characters, the kids never get bored, and there's so many different elements to it: the figures, the video game, which offers adventure or battle mode, and an online game. My son has added many Skylanders' figures to his Christmas list, and I have a good feeling many of his friends will be asking for the game or figures as well.

We received items to facilitate our review and party. All opinions are our own.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Glow Crazy Deal-This Weekend Only

I heard today that there's only 60-some days left to start finish Christmas shopping. If you're like me, and still have quite a few people on your list, you'll love the deal Glow Crazy is offering this weekend.

On October 22nd or 23rd, buy a Glow Crazy Distance Doodler at any WalMart, Toys R Us or local retailer, and they'll send you a FREE Glow Glove! That makes two gifts for the price of one. But remember, the deal is only valid Saturday and Sunday.

Information was provided for this post, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jake and the Never Land Pirates DVD Review

My son loves to get up early in the morning to watch cartoons. Since momma's not nearly as excited to be awake bright and early, I always make sure that I leave the tv on an acceptable channel. Disney Channel is one of Little Man's top choices, as he loves the shows on Disney Junior, especially Jake and the Never Land Pirates.

We were so excited to hear that Jake and the Never Land Pirates was coming to DVD for the first time this month. Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Yo Ho, Mateys Away is a 2-disc combo pack, which includes the DVD, a CD of 7 songs, and an official pirate eye patch.
Episodes included on the DVD include:
  • Hats Off to Hook!/Escape from Belch Mountain
  • Hide the Hideout!/The Old Shell Game
  • Izzy's Pirate Puzzle/The Never Land Games
  • Off the Hook!/Never Say Never!
  • Cubby's Sunken Treasure/Cubby's Goldfish
  • Happy Hook Day!/No Returns!
  • The Sky's the Limit!/Bucky Makes a Splash

Plus bonus features:
  • "Pirate Party" Music Videos
  • Pirate-oke Sing Along
  • Yo Ho, You Ready to be a Never Land Pirate?
I love watching the adventure- and music-filled episodes with my son. He is always entertained with the adventures of the young pirate crew, and ready to help them out, through the interactive treasure hunts during the show.

Disney has also released a Jake and the Never Land Pirates soundtrack. It contains 18 exciting songs from the show, each performed by Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson, aka Sharky and Bones.

Buy It:
The Jake and the Never Land Pirates soundtrack went on sale September 20, 2011. The Jake and the Never Land Pirates DVD and album sampler went on sale today, September 27, 2011 for $19.99.

A copy of the DVD was provided for our review. All opinions are our own.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Danimals Rally for Recess

Yogurt is one of the top choices for snacks in our house. My son has it at least once a day, if not more. And if he's with us in the grocery store, Dannon is typically the top pick, especially the Danimals Coolision Tubes. He loves the flavor, and I love how portable they are.

Dannon Danimals recently launched it's national initiative, Rally for Recess, as an effort to motivate parents and kids to support recess, and overall health and fitness of children. As schools nationwide have been forced to cut recess time due to limited resources, childhood obesity has been on the rise. Dannon Danimals wants kids to get back to the playground.
Rally for Recess is a healthy competition between schools across the country. Five schools have the opportunity to win new playground equipment and an all-day recess celebration. Through February 8, 2012 you can find codes on Danimals packaging (or free by mail). Then head to the Rally for Recess site to enter and register your school online. The schools in each of the five categories (based on size) with the most codes registered wins!

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by
Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Danimals and received a gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Spooky Buddies on DVD 9/20

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. We love decorating, dressing up, trick or treating, and carving pumpkins.

When my 7 year old saw that the Buddies were going to be starring in a Halloween movie, he was ecstatic. He can't wait until Spooky Buddies comes out on DVD on September 20th.Check out the slideshow below for some fun glimpses into the movie. And you can even download a dog biscuit recipe, Halloween tips, and a fun activity sheet.

Information was provided for this post. All opinions are our own.

Back to School with Eight O'Clock Coffee: Giveaway

Closed: Congrats to Tes283

We are a few weeks into school, and I still am looking for all the back to school tips I can get. It seems that every night we rush around before bed getting everything ready for the next day, but come morning, we still feel unprepared.

With a new baby, I'm up all night long, so starting my day with a cup of coffee is essential. Eight O'Clock is perfect for a pick me up in the morning, and they have also come up with a few back to school tips to help our hectic household.

Tip 1: Become Your Own Brewista – Save time, money and gas this back-to-school season by brewing your morning coffee at home. You can even set your coffee maker’s timer the night before to wake up to great-smelling Eight O’Clock Coffee.

Tip 2: Preplan Lunch – A few days before school starts, sit down with your kids and create a grocery list of healthy snacks and lunches they would like for school. Rotate each of their selections throughout the week. Make Tuesday "Turkey Tuesday" or Wednesday "Wrap Wednesday" – adding variety to keep lunch exciting. When possible, pack their lunch the night before to reduce stress in the morning.

Tip 3: Assemble Weekly Wardrobes – Every Sunday check the upcoming weekly weather forecast with your kids. Then, have them pick out five outfits for the upcoming school week. Hang them in daily order in their closet to avoid the inevitable, "Mom, I can’t find my favorite blue shirt!"

Tip 4: Be Prepared for School Projects – Avoid late night rushing around to complete school projects by having art supplies on hand. Create an arts and craft bin that includes more than just crayons and colored paper. Collect items like pipe cleaners, stickers, figurines, beads – even coffee beans – and other creative finds, and put the fun back in school projects.Win It: To help get your school year off to a good start, Eight O'Clock is offering one lucky reader a Back to School Parent Survival Pack, which includes a drawstring bag, travel mug and 2 bags of Eight O’Clock Coffee

Mandatory entry: Tell me your best tip for keeping your house running smooth in the morning.

Want extra entries? (Leave separate comments for each)
Be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Giveaway ends 9/23 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email, so be sure to leave a way to contact you. Open to US only.

Product was provided for review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

To Be Sung Underwater: Book Review

Growing up in Nebraska, Judith Whitman learned about independence, friendship, family, and love. To Be Sung Underwater, follows Judith's journey at 17 in Nebraska, as well as 25 years later, living in Los Angeles.As a teenager, Judith fell in love with a blue-eyed, easy-talking carpenter, and as the years go by, she finds herself looking back on what could have been. Entering middle-age, Judith discovers her husband may be cheating and questions her role as a mother. Though she doesn't understand her own actions, she fabricates a fake identity, buys a storage shed, and recreates her teenage bedroom there. All the while, she carries a photo of her teenage love hidden in her wallet, and finally decides to find him again.

The story is both captivating and graceful. It is a story of love and heartbreak, confusion and wonder. Anyone who has ever asked themselves "what if?" will find themselves relating to Judith, pondering what other paths may have led to, what other dreams could have been followed.

To Be Sung Underwater is written by Tom McNeal, a critically acclaimed author of several short stories and the novel, Goodnight, Nebraska.

Buy it:
To Be Sung Underwater is available for under $14 at Amazon.

A copy of the book was provided for review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Little People Animal Sounds Contest

At the beginning of the month, Fisher-Price, along with celebrity zoologist and children's show host, Jarod Miller, announced the launch of the Little People Animal Sounds Contest. The contest invites parents to submit a video of their child making their best animal imitations. Everything from squawks to roars to growls are welcome!
The winner will receive $10,000 and a trip to Fisher-Price headquarters in East Aurora, New York for a special photo shoot and a chance to be featured on a Little People product or website.

In addition, ten first prize winners will receive a Zoo Talkers toy prize pack and all successful submissions will be entered for a chance to win one of 100 Zoo Talkers Safari Trucks.

To enter, grab your camera, encourage your little one (ages 1 to 5) to use their imagination and get a little wild and loud. Then visit the Animal Sounds Contest page to submit your video, or submit it through the iPhone or Android App. Videos must be under 20 seconds and feature your little one making one of the following animal's sounds: lion, tiger, elephant, bear, penguin, rhinoceros, leopard, whale, polar bear, hippopotamus, monkey, seal, gorilla, alligator, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, dolphin, snake, or bird. After submitting your little animal lover, be sure to share the site link for your friends and family to go vote for your video.

The contest has already started and will run until November 30, 2011.

Little People Animal Sounds Zoo
In conjunction with the Little People Animal Sounds Contest, Fisher-Price recently released the brand-new Zoo Talkers Animal Sounds Zoo. Zoo Talker toys are designed to teach your little ones animal names and sounds. The Animal Sounds Zoo contains a zoo play set, a zookeeper, polar bear, lion, and gorilla. When the animal figures are placed on the paw pad in the zoo hut, your child can hear the animal's name and sound. The play set has lots of features to keep little ones engaged, including a water slide to push animals down, a treetop swing, and a hippo that opens his mouth and snorts.

The Animal Sounds Zoo was a huge hit with my 3 year old nephew (as well as my little guy, who though older than the recommended age, had no problem playing alongside his cousin.) They loved that the play set talked to them and offered several different places to play. With a polar region, treetop, lake, cave, ticket booth, and hut, they both had their own space to pretend in. Perfect for those moments when they don't feel like sharing.

Buy It:
The Animal Sounds Zoo is available for $40 and additional animal figures can be purchased for $3 each.

Product was provided for review. All opinions are our own.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome to the World

Welcome to the world little one!
Born August 19th
8 lbs 6 oz
21 1/2 inches
Absolutely perfect

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Orchard Bars Review

With this pregnancy, I am constantly snacking. I rarely feel like eating a huge meal, but am more than happy to eat snacks throughout the day. My fridge is full of string cheese, fruit, and carrots. The only problem I have is finding gluten free snacks that are easy to eat on the run or in the car.

I was recently introduced to Orchard Bars. Orchard Bars are fruit and nut bars that cater to many special dietary needs. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, and vegan. Orchard Bars are low in sodium, high in Omega-3, and a good source of protein. They contain no preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors, and no cholesterol or saturated fat.
So how do they taste?

That is always my first question when I find a new gluten free snack, because often times the taste doesn't live up to my expectations and I find myself throwing away the rest of the box or pawning it off on my husband.

With Orchard Bars, I wasn't disappointed. They are fruity and sweet, without being overpoweringly so. As soon as you open the wrapper, you can smell the fruit. You can taste the fruit, nuts, and sunflower seeds, and the texture is a great combination of chewy and crunch.

Orchard Bars are available in 3 flavors:
Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond
Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia

Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut

I'm absolutely in love with the Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut flavor. Delicious!

The only thing I don't like? No stores in my area carry them! However, Orchard Bars can be purchased online or in some brick and mortar stores. Plus, they are coming to more stores soon.

Buy It: Orchard Bars can be purchased online for $14.95 to $25.95 for boxes of 12-20.

Check them out:
Follow Orchard Bars on Twitter
Like them on Facebook

Product was provided for review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

FyrFlyz Review

A few weeks ago, my son won one of those cheapy glow sticks at our local fair. He had such a blast waving it around in the dark to see how the lights changed and made patterns in the air. So, when I heard about FyrFlyz, a new spinning light toy, I knew it was something he would adore.

FyrFlyz allow kids to create their own light shows by swinging a multi-colored LED light connected by two strings on either side. By tightening or loosening the strings, the pattern of the lights changes, as it creates different designs, such as figure eights, rings, or stars.
There are tons of patterns or tricks kids can perform. Several trick ideas can be found on the FyrFlyz website, and include moves such as Shooting Stars, Black Holes, and Moon Craters.
My son was very excited to try out FyrFlyz. Since it was the middle of the day, we turned out all the lights and closed the curtains and he started creating a light show for me. He was amazed at how easily he could create different light patterns just by applying or releasing tension on the strings. Some of the tricks were tough for him to copy, but he had a lot of fun trying and was thrilled when he came up with moves of his own.

I like that the light portion of FyrFlyz has safety tips on the end, as well as an on/off switch to conserve battery power. I also love that the toy inspires creativity and helps improve my son's motor skills.

Buy It:
FyrFlyz are available for under $10 and come in a variety of colors

Samples were provided for review. All opinions are our own.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Top 100 Pasta Dishes: Cookbook Review

My house is full of picky eaters. It seems like everyone has a list of what they will or won't eat, or in my case, what I can eat. However, it seems like every week my meal plan includes at least one pasta night.

I recently had the chance to check out Top 100 Pasta Dishes: Easy Everyday Recipes that Children will Love by Annabel Karmel. The book is filled with such a variety of pasta dishes that it wasn't hard to find a new recipe to try. The topics in the book include pastas for babies and toddlers, plus poultry, meat, fish, and veggie dishes. I was excited to try the Fusilli with sausage and sweet peppers. It's filled with tangy cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, and spicy sausage. And even though the heartburn with this pregnancy is through the roof, I constantly want to eat peppers and tomatoes from our garden, so I found this recipe to be amazing. The best part? It was ready in under 30 minutes. The only substitution I made was corn pasta for the typical wheat pasta, but it was still a hit in our house.

I really like that the book tells readers what ages the recipes are appropriate for, as well as whether or not they are suitable for freezing. The recipes also use ingredients I typically have on hand and offer quick meals for those of us who are always rushing at dinnertime. We can't wait to try out more recipes.

Buy It: Top 100 Pasta Dishes by Annabel Karmel will be available August 9th for $18.

A copy of the book was provided for our review. All opinions are our own.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's National Ice Cream Month! Review

In case you haven't heard, July is National Ice Cream Month, which means you have the perfect excuse to indulge in a sweet treat or two. To help you celebrate, Breyers, Klondike, Popsicle, and Reese's, have several new treats in your grocer's freezer section.

Breyers Blasts!
Breyers has several new Blasts! flavors out. Each one features some of the most popular cookies or candy pieces. With so much flavor packed into every scoop, it might be hard to pick a favorite.
Breyers Blast! flavors include:
  • OREO Chocolate Cookies
  • OREO Cookies & Cream Mint
  • Mrs. Fields Mint Fudge Brownie
  • Mrs. Fields Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  • Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough
  • Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Whoppers
  • Waffle Cone with HERSHEY’S® Chocolate Chips

Klondike Bars
Klondike bars are always a hit in our house. Not only are they delicious, but with their chocolate coating, they are one of the least messy treats that I can offer my 6-year-old on a hot day.The new Klondike flavors include:
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Bar
  • What the Fudge? Brownie Sandwich

Since Little Man is allergic to nuts, we typically keep our house nut-free. But with this pregnancy, I have craved chocolate and peanut butter together more often than I'd like to admit. So, I keep a stash of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups hidden for after he goes to bed. Now Reese's offers a Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cup. I actually found these in my local grocery store several weeks ago and had to try them. They definitely satisfy my cravings with their slightly salty peanut butter and creamy chocolate coating.

By far one of my son's favorite treats are frozen pops. I'm always amazed at how quickly he can devour them! Popsicle Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome ice pops are no exception. Little Man gave them two thumbs up and loved that there was more than one flavor inside his pop.

The new Popsicle flavors include:
  • Jolly Rancher Awesome Twosome ice pops
  • AirHeads ice pops
With so many new frozen treats, our only problem is finding time to try them all!

Buy It:
Find Breyers, Klondike, Popsicle, and Reese's in your grocer's freezer section

Samples were provided for review. All opinions are our own.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beast Friends Forever: Book Review

With temperatures soaring this past week, Little Man and I spent several afternoons lost in books. It was a perfect way to encourage him to read while surviving the 90+ degree weather.

One book he adored reading was Beast Friends Forever: The Super Swap-O Surprise by New York Times bestselling author Nate Evans and Vince Evans. The Super Swap-O Surprise is book two in the series and features Otto, a quirky little beast with magical abilities.Otto lives under the bed of 9-year-old Zeke, who decides to experiment with Otto's magical powers alongside his 7-year-old sister Hannah. Otto has the ability to "swap-o," he can exchange any object for something completely unexpected. A soccer ball becomes a pig, a robot becomes a little, angry green man, and a jewelry box becomes a jeweled bird.

The story of Zeke, Hannah, and Otto is a silly and engaging read for kids 7-10. It includes comics book sequences throughout the book, which were one of my son's favorite parts. And it keeps kids wondering what will come next. Little Man could not stop reading. He just had to know what would happen the next time Otto shouted "hoobah" to start a swap-o.

Buy It:
Beast Friends Forever: The Super Swap-O Surprise will be available in August 2011 for $4.99.

A copy of the book was provided for our review. All opinions are our own.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Super Diaper Baby 2: Review & Giveaway

***Closed: Congrats to DARLA, Melissa B, and Misusedinnocence***

I can't say enough about Dav Pilkey's books. My son is a book lover, but even he has days where he doesn't feel like reading. However, even on those days, he's more than happy to pick up one of the Captain Underpants books, or a different title from Pilkey. Pilkey's writing style has a huge appeal for younger boys. What 6 year old boy doesn't find mild bathroom humor giggle-worthy?!
Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers (for ages 7+) definitely has it's share of bathroom humor. Though in this part of Diaper Baby's saga, George and Harold (the kids creating the story) avoid talking about going number two and focus on pee-related jokes instead.

In the story, Dr. Dilbert Dinkle is an ordinary, everyday evil genius/inventor/bank robber. But after being transformed into a puddle of pee, he decides to destroy every toilet in town. Dr. Dinkle and his evil, smart-mouthed cat, Petey, try their hardest to banish the town of toilets and teach the townspeople a lesson. But Super Diaper Baby and Diaper Dog have something to say about their devious plan.My son couldn't help but laugh when we read about Rip Van Tinkle or "How the Pee Stoled Potties," a chapter in the book that is written in similar format to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He loved the dialogue and drawings in Pilkey's latest graphic novel.

Buy It:
Super Diaper Baby 2: Invasion of the Potty Snatchers is available for $6.99

Check It Out:
View the trailer for the book

Win It:
3 lucky readers will win a copy of Super Diaper Baby 2: Invasion of the Potty Snatchers

Mandatory entry: Tell me in the comments if your kids have read any of Dav Pilkey's books yet. I'd love to hear which one has been their favorite!

Want extra entries? (Leave separate comments for each)
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  • Blog about the giveaway with a link to this post. (Leave your link)
Be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Giveaway ends 7/14 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email, so be sure to leave a way to contact you. Open to US only.

A copy of the book was provided for review. However all opinions are our own.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Glow Crazy Distance Doodler Review

We love summertime. But some days, it's just too hot to even think about going outside. So I have to brainstorm ways to keep my 6 year old busy, without letting him watch SpongeBob all. day. long.

Little Man loves to draw, so I knew the Distance Doodler would be a hit with him. And I was definitely right.

The Glow Crazy Distance Doodler allows kids to write and draw on glow clings, using a "magic" lightwand. The glow clings are easy to apply to your wall, and are supposed to come off easily. (I can't attest to the removal since Little Man has used it every day since I put it up.) Once the cling is up, all you need is a dark room and a little creativity.
There are two modes on the lightwand. One allows the doodler to draw using a thin line of light and the other uses a thick area of light. The thicker beam can be used to create silhouettes of other people, toys, or just about anything else you can imagine. We had fun seeing what toys and random household objects looked like as silhouettes. The images disappear rather quickly, but my son loved this since it meant he could constantly be drawing something new.

The Distance Doodler has provided my son hours of entertainment. We've practiced writing, played games, and have had contests to see who could draw different objects. (Little Man usually won, as I'm the least artistic person ever.)

We are definitely glad to have a new, fun activity to do on days when it's too warm or raining outside. Plus, I love that it encourages creativity and writing skills!

Buy It:
The Distance Doodler sells for $24.99, but is sold out on their official site until July 15, 2011. However, it's also available at Walmart and Toys R Us.


It seems that summer is flying by already, and I feel like we've done nothing! But when I really think about it, I realize that Little Man has had the chance to do quite a few things this summer already. And we still have two months to go. (Though I can't believe it's only two more months and that baby #2 will be arriving before summer comes to an end.)

A few weeks ago, we took a little 6-hour road trip. Surprisingly, the car ride went amazingly well. Little Man only asked if we were "there yet" 42 times, hubby only got us lost 3 times, and we only narrowly missed getting hit by another car twice. The number of times my seat was kicked was too high to count though, and the fact that it was followed by a smaller kick inside my belly almost every time made my hubby giggle. I wasn't nearly as amused.

Once we were there we spent a week doing fun things. The boys went kayaking, while I enjoyed a good book and a cup of hot cocoa on the house porch. My son (thankfully) arrived back in one piece, and though covered in fishy smelling mud and shivering, he was so excited to tell me about his adventure.
We went to the beach. The first beach outing Little Man can actually remember. He had a blast collecting shells and taunting the ocean.
We visited an amazing dinosaur park, call the Dinosaur Place. Life-sized dinos, an erupting volcano, miles to walk, and a playground, easily equals every little boy's dream.
We spent another afternoon exploring a castle and it's grounds. Surprisingly, Little Man loved going through the castle and declared he needs "popcorn" lights (lights within stained glass globes) for his room too.
And we went to an aquarium. Little Man still wants to be a zoologist one day, so he was so excited to get up close and personal with a beluga whale, feed a sting ray, and pet a shark. Momma was a little freaked out when it felt like the sting ray was going to ram my hand to get his food, but I survived with a smile on my face.
Getting time away, and the chance to focus on fun for a whole week was so nice. By the end of the week, Little Man and I were both excited to sleep in our own beds again though. But by the next day he was asking when we could go back to the "vacation house" again.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Winters in Bloom: Book Review

I'm always on the look out for new authors to fall in love with. It seems like once I find a writer I enjoy, I'll read every book they've put out.

I was recently introduced to the work Lisa Tucker, and I have definitely added her to my list of must read authors.

The Winters in Bloom, the sixth novel from Tucker, is the story of family, of love and loss, of heartache and guilt. The story follows the Winter's family, David, Kyra, and their son, Michael. David and Kyra have plenty of reasons to worry. (What parent doesn't?) But when their son disappears one morning, they both have to face their fears and their past.
I could easily see a little of myself in Kyra and David. Though they take their protectiveness to the extreme, I could relate to worrying about my little ones and wanting to know that they're safe. The story will have you thinking about why some people do go to such extremes to keep their children safe in today's world.

I read The Winters in Bloom in three days. Every chance I got, I was sneaking in a few pages. I just had to know what happened next. I can't wait to pick up another of Tucker's novels.

Buy It:
The Winters in Bloom will be released on September 13, 2011.

I received a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, June 6, 2011

50 Dangerous Things: Book Review

Summer has officially started in our house. It's is roasting outside and we're trying to find ways to stay busy both indoors and out. While we're excited about the every day stuff, going to the library, making popsicles, and playing games, sometimes we want something a little more exciting to do.

We were recently introduced to the book 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) by Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler. It's filled with ideas on how to teach your child about safety by allowing them to experience risk. The book encourages kids to experiment, to answer the "what ifs" by actually acting on the ideas, in order to give them better problem-solving skills.50 Dangerous Things includes a variety of activities, skills, projects, and experiences. Suggestions in the book include super-gluing your fingers together, exploding a bottle in the freezer, learning to tightrope walk, and damming up a creek, among others. Each idea includes a how to, a risk assessment (could cause shock, property damage, etc), and room to take notes. There's also a section that explains the merits of each activity.

As my son read through the book, I heard many giggles and several repeats of "I'm not going to do that," as he was shocked and amused by many of the ideas. But, he was also very excited to add several of the ideas to our summer to-do list.

The book offers a fresh perspective on taking risks and trying new things. It offers easy to follow directions, as well as warnings for parents and children to abide by so that no one gets seriously injured. I have a feeling we'll be pulling it off the book shelf several times this summer.

Buy It
50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) is available now for $18. You can also visit the the 50 Dangerous Things website to learn more.

A copy of the book was provided for review. All opinions are our own.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Snacking with Sargento

The end of school and beginning of summer means lots of chaos in our house. Their are tons of special activities at school, field trips, soccer practices, and excitement over upcoming vacations. All this planning and running around means I have little time to think ahead about dinner, let alone snacks.

Luckily, we were recently introduced to Sargento Fridge Packs. These easy-to-spot and store packs of cheese sticks fit easily into our refrigerator and allow kids and grown-ups access to a healthy snack. The well-designed Fridge Packs allow the cheese to be displayed, rather than tossed into a drawer, and I don't know about you, but I often grab the first thing I see when I'm hungry for a snack.Sargento Fridge Packs are offered in 3 flavors, Light String Cheese, Colby-Jack Cheese Sticks, and Mild Cheddar Cheese Sticks. They, like all Sargento cheese snacks, are 100% natural and never processed.

I am definitely partial to the Light String Cheese, and have been eating one as an afternoon snack most days. But all the varieties are going fast around here. I especially had to giggle when someone opened the fridge and was excited to see we had the "good cheese."
Spring Clean Your Fridge
Sargento recommends spring cleaning your fridge and your snacking habits this year. Making healthy choices isn't nearly as hard when you keep things like fruit, veggies, and cheese in easily accessible places.Buy It
Sargento Fridge Packs (containing 18 sticks) are available in most groceries stores for $6.99

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Sargento and received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Retro Fabric Care with Tide: Giveaway

***Closed: Congrats to Jen & June!***

Laundry is one of those never-ending jobs in our house. It's right up there with dishes and picking up after the boys in the house. So, I'm glad I can rely on Tide to help me keep our clothes clean and smelling fresh.

To celebrate its 65th Anniversary, Tide is issuing special-edition packages with the 1947 label. Procter & Gamble is offering shoppers a "blast from the past" with retro-packaged Tide, Bounce, and Downy available at Target in May, while supplies last. Tide's promise for “the cleanest clothes possible” is still going strong more than a half-century later.Win It: Two lucky winners will receive a retro Tide t-shirt, Bounce Dryer Bar, and Tide and Downy samples.Mandatory entry: Tell me in the comments how many loads of laundry you do each week.

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Giveaway ends 5/31 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email, so be sure to leave a way to contact you. Open to US only.

Samples were provided. However all opinions are our own.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips: Review

Ever since going gluten-free last summer, I've been looking for healthy snack foods that I can still munch on. Some days it's a struggle to find something that tastes good, is fairly healthy for me, and satisfies my craving for something "snacky."

I was recently introduced to Beanfields Bean and Rice chips. They are gluten (and corn) free, made in the USA, and offer a healthier alternative to potato chips. Beanfields Bean and Rice chips have 4 grams of protein in every serving, as well as 4 grams of fiber.

Beanfields Bean and Rice chips are available in four flavors: Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Pepper, Naturally Unsalted, and Pico De Gallo.We tried the Sea Salt and Sea Salt & Pepper flavors and were surprised at just how good they were. Hubby was a little leery at eating a chip made from beans, but I caught him eating more than his share after he tried them.

Beanfields Bean and Rice chips are crunchy and very flavorful. I loved the seasoning on the Sea Salt & Pepper. They had just the right amount of "kick" from the pepper. Very, very addictive. And I don't need to feel guilty for eating them!

Buy It
Find Beanfields Bean and Rice chips at a natural food store near you, or order online. A 6 oz bag retails for $2.99 to $3.99.

We received product to review. All opinions are our own.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Bindi Wildlife Adventures Book Series: Review

I'm always looking for new a book series directed towards kids to share with my son. Little Man and I have read many books from the Magic Tree House, the Bailey School Kids, and the Captain Underpants series. He loves when we can open a book and already know who the characters are.

We recently were introduced to the Bindi Wildlife Adventures series by Bindi Irwin. For those of you who don't know, Bindi is the 12-year-old daughter of the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Bindi has her own clothing line, Bindi Wear International, which launched in 2007, and her own TV show, Bindi: The Jungle Girl, which won an Emmy in 2008 and was nominated again in 2009. She’s also won two Nickelodeon awards, and in 2010 her first full-length feature film, Free Willy 4, was released.

Bindi: The Jungle Girl was one of my 6-year-old's favorite shows. He was so upset when the tv station changed hands and he learned we'd no longer be able to watch it, so I knew her new book series would be a hit with him as well.The first two books of the series, Trouble at the Zoo and Rescue (for ages 7-10) were released this month. The Bindi Wildlife Series is inspired by Bindi's real life, raising conservation awareness and living at the Australian Zoo. The stories feature her brother, Robert, her mom, Terri, and her friends.Bindi's adventures help show kids the importance of caring about, and for, animals. She helps children understand wildlife conservation in words and adventures that they can understand and relate to. Plus, the stories are exciting, silly at times, and are able to keep young readers interested.

Trouble at the Zoo and Rescue are available now for $4.99. Other books in the series will be released in the upcoming months. If you have a little animal-lover in your house, they will fall in love with Bindi's adventures.

Copies of the books were provided for review. All opinions are our own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Favorite & Life on Hold: Book Reviews

Last year, I fell in love with A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion. So I was excited to hear that AmazonEncore would be publishing two of her young adult novels this April, Favorite and Life on Hold.

Favorite is the story of Angie Favorite, a teenager whose mother disappeared five years before. Life hasn't been easy since her mother mysteriously vanished, but Angie has never given up hope that her mother is out there somewhere.When Angie is attacked in a parking lot, she can't help but think that the attack is somehow related to her mother's disappearance. After the family of Angie's attacker reaches out to her, her own family thinks it may be a chance for her to find closure. But, she discovers something much more startling.

Favorite is a fast-paced book, full of questions, hope, and many surprises. It is one of those stories that once you start, you won't be able to put it down until you reach the last page.

Life on Hold is the story of Rae Maddox, a 15 year old girl, whose mother moves them around more often than she can count. Over the years, Rae has learned to keep her distance from the other kids at school, after realizing how hard it is to leave friend after friend behind.
But, after being in Wisconsin for a short while, Rae's vice principal pairs her up with Allison, a new student, asking her to show her around. Allison is quiet and barely seems to acknowledge Rae's presence. However, after learning more about Allison's past, Rae realizes just how much everyone needs friends and people to care about them.

Life on Hold is another fast read from McQuestion. The characters are easy to connect to and have you hoping that everything will turn out for them in the end.

Favorite and Life on Hold are both available for $9.95 each.

Copies of the books were provided for review. All opinions are my own.

The Stormchasers: Book Review

Growing up, I loved to watch storms. My sister and I would sit on the porch until the lightning got too close and our mom would call us inside. There was just something about a storm's unpredictability that made them beautiful.

I recently had the chance to read The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum. The book, from The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, draws on Blum's own experience with storm chasing. But the book is not only about weather, it also explores the powerful bond between twins.
Karena and Charles may be twins, but they haven't seen each other in 20 years. Charles, obsessed with storms and diagnosed as bipolar, disappeared without telling his family where he was going. When Karena receives a call from a mental health facility, she starts tracking her bother and the storms he lives for.

The story follows Karena on her amazing adventures, witnessing powerful storms, catching glimpses of her brother, and falling for someone she never expected. The Stormchasers is an amazing tale of siblings, love, and overcoming the past. The vivid details provided by Blum throughout the book allow readers to imagine every aspect of the Karena's journey.

Buy It
The Stormchasers goes on sale today and is available for $15.

I was provided a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Big G Whole Grain Cereal: Giveaway

In our house, most breakfasts consist of simple foods. We all like to sleep in until that last possible moment, so breakfast has to be quick, but filling.

For both my husband and little one, cereal is a go-to meal. Even at lunch time, they will occasionally request a bowl of cereal. But, I can't complain when many of the cereals they choose offer a good serving of whole grains.

Every Big G cereal contains at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving, with more than 20 Big G cereals delivering 16 grams or more. (At least 48 grams of whole grain are recommended daily.) A diet high in whole grain has been found to help with diabetes and weight management, and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Big G cereals include:
  • Cheerios
  • Lucky Charms
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Fiber One
  • Total
Studies have found that frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights. Plus, they consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters.

The Lean Belly Prescription by Dr. Travis Stork, MD and host of The Doctors, states that research has shown that belly fat carries more health risks than fat stored elsewhere. In his book, Dr. Stork offers the "Laws of Leanness," including:

If you love to graze: Nosh all day long on your favorite fruits and vegetables to help keep your belly full
If you love fatty foods: discover which fats can actually strip away pounds
If you love soda: substitute more delicious drinks that can help you lose up to four pounds in four weeks

The book contains other great tips as well, including how to eat out while watching your food intake, how to "eat the rainbow," and how to make skinny swaps. Plus, there are exercises, recipes, and activity guides.Win It: One lucky reader will win a copy of Dr. Storks book, The Lean Belly Prescription, and a coupon for a free box of Multigrain Cheerios

Mandatory entry: Tell me in the comments which Big G cereal you enjoy starting your day off with.

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Giveaway ends 3/31 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email. Open to US only.

Thanks to General Mills for providing me with free product, information, and prize packs through MyBlogSpark. However, all opinions are our own.