Sunday, October 17, 2010

Viper Comics for Kids: Review

Viper Comics has been publishing comics since 2003. To date, they have put out over 100 comic books and 30 graphic novels. Four of their graphic novel titles have even been recommended by the American Library Association.With Little Man's new-found love of comics, he was more than excited to receive three new stories to read. Battle Smash Vs. the Saucermen from Venus was apparently such a hit in our house, that he has hidden away in his room, to read when he wakes up in the morning. The comic follows the five superheroes who make up Team Battle Smash as they save London from the attacking Saucermen. The story is easy for him to read and follow. With it's upbeat pace, he was captivated with the storyline from the first page to last.

Stu Bear in the 25st Century is the story of a lazy bear, trapped for hundreds of years when an avalanche buries him during hibernation. When Stu is discovered, centuries in the future, he finds that nothing is the same. Humans are being kept in zoos, high-tech cities are floating above the Earth, and an incurable plague is threatening all life.Written by the Beverly Hills Chihuahua movie screen writer, Jeff Bushell, Stu Bear is an imaginative glimpse into animal-run future. My 6 year old enjoyed the idea of animals running the world and was excited to see if Stu would be able to save the day.

Odd Rods is based upon the trading cards of the 1960s. Mac Short is having nothing short of a bad day, he's lost his job, his wife left him, and he's next to broke. When he sees a car for sale for only $500, he thinks his luck has started to change. Then he accidentally pulls a lever in his car and learns that doing so turns the car into an Odd Rod.Since Little Man is only 6, I skimmed through the first few pages with him, figuring their was no reason to ruin the thrill of the book with negatives, like losing a job and having a spouse leave. He really enjoyed the illustrations throughout the book and loved when the cars and drivers transformed into Odd Rods.

Battle Smash Vs. the Saucermen from Venus can be purchased for $3.25. Stu Bear can be pre-ordered for $7.95 and Odd Rod for $5.95.

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The "Our School Needs" Contest from Bing

I love being active in my son's classroom. Not only does it give me a chance to peek in on how he behaves (or misbehaves) at school, but it lets me see how he interacts with his teachers and classmates.

Education is so important, yet every time you turn around, it seems like the school budget is getting smaller and smaller. And it doesn't take long before the budget cuts impact our kids. More and more, I've noticed teachers asking for more contributions to the classroom, teachers buying supplies out of their own pocket, and kids finding ways to go without.

Bing believes every student deserves a great education, and they are asking: What does your school need?

Before Friday, October 22nd, teachers and students can head over to the Bing website, and tell them what they dream about for their school. Teachers and students can submit their story, along with photos and videos. Entries will then be rated online and the top 5 from each category (grades k-6, 7-9, and 10-12) will have a spot in the finals. Voting will begin October 27th.

You can view a video about the submission process as well.

In the end, four winners (1 grand prize and 3 first places) will be selected, winning $100,000 and $50,000 respectively. And Bing will be donating up to a million dollars in prizes and donations to schools in need.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Bing and received a giving code and gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ook & Gluk: Review & Giveaway

Last week, when The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future arrived at our doorstep, Little Man was instantly in love with it. The cover drew him in, with the silly characters and comic-book look, and the story throughout the pages kept him hooked. In complete honesty, we sat and read the book cover to cover (all 175 pages) in one afternoon.The book comes from the creators of the Captain Underpants series (which we have suddenly started reading in the past week). The Adventures of Ook and Gluk follows two cavemen as they encounter an evil corporation leader, who has come to the past to steal trees, oil, and water. Their comical adventures include helping out a baby dinosaur, meeting new friends in the future, and battling killer robots.The Adventures of Ook and Gluk accomplishes everything the cover promises: "action, laffs, and flip-o-rama in every chapter." The flip-o-ramas were a huge hit with my 6 year old. With titles like "Mechasauras Wrecks" and "Regergitation Animation," what 6 year old wouldn't love making their own mini animated scenes within the book?

About the Author:
Dav Pilkey has written and illustrated numerous popular, award-winning books for children, including the Captain Underpants and Dumb Bunnies series; Dog Breath, winner of the California Young Reader Medal; and The Paperboy, a Caldecott Honor Book.

Win It: Three lucky readers will win a copy of The Adventures of Ook and Gluk (retail $9.99)

Mandatory entry:
Check out the other Dav Pilkey books and tell me another title your kids would enjoy.

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Giveaway ends 10/22 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email. Open to US only.

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: From '08

If I think of how much he's grown in just 2 years, I can't decide if it breaks my heart or just amazes me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coaching U6 Soccer

Three days a week you can find us on the soccer fields. We are usually the first to show up and among the last to leave.

I grew up loving soccer. I played from the time I was 4 until I graduated high school, going from a rec team to a traveling team to the varsity squad. Playing soccer is the one (and maybe only) thing I miss from high school.

Last year, when Little Man expressed interest in playing, we signed him right up. Somehow, I got talked into coaching the team. Now I'm on my second season coaching. (Even though I said I wouldn't be this year, I didn't really get a chance to say no.)

Coaching little kids' soccer is different than anything else I've ever done. I once heard someone say, "you don't need to be a soccer player to coach this level, you need to be a daycare director." I can see some truth in that, but I also believe you need to know the sport more with this age group than with the older ones. You have to be the one to teach how to play correctly. I strongly believe that good habits start early, but bad ones can start even earlier.
My tips for coaching a group of 5 and 6 year olds?

1. Have patience. You will need to tie shoes, allow more water breaks than you can imagine, listen to stories about so and so's sister, hold hands, and direct them towards the bathroom at least once a practice. You will also need to remind them which goal is theirs and learn to smile when they kick it in the other one anyways.

2. Have fun. At this age, kids don't come to win. They really don't even come to practice soccer. They come to have fun. I judge the success of my practices by how many kids are smiling and laughing at the end and how many can't wait until the next practice.

3. Offer lots of praise! Kids will respond to positive reinforcement. They need to hear that they are doing well, that you know they're trying their best. And the next practice, they will come back and try even harder. All I can ever ask for is that they do their best.

Do you coach your kid's sports team? Any tips to add?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Goodbye Summer

We were still hanging on to the very last moments of summer. But this week, fall hit from out of nowhere. Hello, fall!

Have you voted for my Big Hit recipe today??!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Flourless PB-Free Cookies

These cookies may be flour free and peanut butter free, but they are delicious. The biggest perk? Everyone in our family can safely eat them.

Momma may or may not have eaten two for lunch today.Flourless PB-Free Cookies
(Makes about 2 dozen)

1 cup Soy Nut Butter (You can sub PB or another nut butter if your family can have it)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
Chocolate Chips or Hershey Kisses

Preheat oven to 350 and grease cookie sheet.

Combine soy butter and both sugars in mixer. Blend on medium for about two minutes, or until well mixed.

Add egg and baking soda. Continue mixing about 2 more minutes.

Roll dough into golf ball size balls and place on cookie sheet. Make crisscross pattern with a fork.

Bake for roughly 7-8 minutes or until edges are slightly brown. As soon as you remove from oven, press Kisses or chocolate chips into tops of cookies.

Allow to cool before removing from cookie sheet.


Have you voted for my Gluten-Free Big Hit recipe today??!

Bedtime Books: Review

Picking out bedtime books, is a huge process for us. Little Man always seems to have such strong opinions about which stories he wants to hear (or read to me) before going off to bed.

We recently received two new bedtime books: Switching on the Moon and Moon Dreams. Both of which got Little Man's bedtime book approval.

Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems (collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters) contains a variety of poems that can easily lull a little one off to sleep. Topics covered in the book range from going to bed, dreams, and nighttime. Little Man adored the poem "My Bed," where the poet describes the things his bed could become, such as a boat, a car, or a submarine. I'm sure Little Man loved it since he never goes straight to sleep, he lays in bed "daydreaming" for as long as his little eyes will stay open.
The book contains beautiful, captivating illustrations from G. Brian Karas and is designed for younger children, from birth to age 5.

Moon Dreams
by Ruth Martin tells the story of Luna, a little girl in love with the moon. Luna knows the moon watches over her at night, but before falling asleep each night, she wonders where the moon goes during the day. Moon Dreams follows Luna's imaginative journey as she tries to discover where the moon spends its days.
We loved the artwork throughout the book (by illustrator Oliver Latyk). It depicts Luna's dreams and thoughts in such a fun and creative way. The story, aimed at kids 4-7, was a hit with Little Man, and we were able to discuss what really does happen to the moon during daylight hours.

Both books are now available for purchase from Candlewick Press and would make a great addition to any bookshelf.

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

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eating Gluten Free

Every time someone finds out I don't eat wheat or gluten, they act like I'm crazy. You don't eat pasta? You can't have cake? You won't even try a bite of pizza?

People always see negatives. But the thing is, I do eat pasta, and cake, and pizza. I just have to make it myself, without gluten. To be perfectly honest, I eat better now than I did before going gluten free.

I wake up and make myself eggs with lots of veggies and a side of sliced tomatoes. Instead of eating something from a microwavable box for lunch, I have a salad with leftover chicken or I make a quick stir fry from whatever's in the fridge.

For dinner, I serve grilled or roasted meat, a potato or rice, and lots of veggies. If we want pasta, I make a rice pasta. Pizza? I use a gluten free crust mix. Which, by the way, makes some delicious cheesy bread.

When it comes to sweet stuff, I love experimenting with gluten free desserts. There's been brownies, cake, and donuts. My favorite so far?

Chex Treats
1 bag marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
7 cups of Chex (I mixed rice and corn)
handful of chocolate chips

Melt butter and marshmallows in microwave. Start with 1 minute, check every 20-30 seconds until marshmallows are melted and smooth.

Stir in Chex.

Put mixture into a well greased 13 x 9 inch pan, press until even.

Top with chocolate chips and press them into treats.We won't discuss how quickly a huge batch disappeared in our house this week.

Have you voted for my Gluten-Free Big Hit recipe today?