Friday, November 30, 2012

Giveaway! - Winner Beth D.

Another great giveaway of an Activision game! This one is the Skylanders Giants starter pack for Wii. It includes the video game, the portal of power, 3 skylanders figures, a character poster, trading cards and sticker sheets with secret codes. The game is rated E10+.

Game Description: Skylanders Giants™ builds upon the breakthrough fundamentals of Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure®—merging the physical and virtual realms with an innovative line of cross-platform toys with “brains,” which players everywhere can magically bring to life in the world of Skylands. Skylanders Giants introduces sixteen new characters to build on the magic of Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure, including super-sized Giant Skylanders with powers to match, as well as the new LightCore™ Skylanders that light-up in the game and in the real-world as players’ transport them to Skylands using the Portal of Power® that builds on the magic of the toys. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bonus Photo

This bonus post is what happens when I have a photo that I want to use, but can't make it fit into a Wordless Wednesday. haha

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Traditions

One of our Christmas traditions is a trip to Bass Pro Shops. It started because they offer a free photo with Santa. We have gone every year. You should know the lines can be long. When we pull in to the parking lot, I run in and get a timed entry card. Then we either go eat and waste time or get our photos done first depending on how long we have. The timed entry cards just put you in the line with a group of people, so do try to arrive back at the Santa area a few minutes before your entry time.

Every year my kids have less screaming. What is noticeable,is how much happier Santa gets from year to year. Hah! Luckily if you have a long wait, or want something else to do after the photo there are always activities going on in the store.


Riding the reindeer carousel (free) was a huge hit. They also have an area set up for kids to do an art project (free) - the project varies by day so be sure to check if it is something your kids would be interested in doing.


Just walking around this store is fun for the kids. The giant fish tanks, bridges to walk over, a tunnel to walk through, many animals to see (carcasses), and even displays of boats which my kids find fascinating.

If you live near a Bass Pro Shop, please make time to go this Holiday Season. The closer to Christmas, the busier they get so we do try to go at the end of November. I am not in any way affiliated with Bass Pro Shop and they didn't ask me to do a review. We just enjoy going and I thought you might as well.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giveaway! Winner Amanda H.

Activision has given me some of their great family games to give to my readers just in time for Christmas! I will do 4 separate giveaways, one each week leading up to Christmas. You must be a U.S. resident to enter.

This week is a Lalaloopsy give away. It includes the Lalaloopsy Carnival of Friends game for the Nintendo3DS (rated E, playable in 2D for everyone and 3D for those ages 7+) and the mini Lalaloopsy Sew Sleepy. These are very popular this year, so feel free to forward this page to anyone you think might want one for Christmas.

Game Description: Peanut Big Top™ is throwing the biggest Silly Funhouse carnival in Lalaloopsy Land for all to enjoy, including a special treat at the end! It’s up to you to find all of the Lalaloopsy friends at the carnival to reveal the BIG surprise!
  • See 40 of your favorite Lalaloopsy characters like never before.
  • For the first time ever play with the Lalaloopsy siblings, the Lalaloopsy Littles!
  • Explore 16 different levels all with a Silly Funhouse carnival theme!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Something Different

It was cold and raining outside. The kids had tons of energy and we needed to come up with something they could do. Wonderful husband quickly pushed the couches back to back and it kept them busy for almost 30 minutes!

(Yes, the vacuum is just out of camera range because that's what we were doing while the couches were pulled out.)

What other ideas have you come up with to wear out your kids at home?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Book Review

I just finished reading The Missing Alphabet: A Parents' Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids. In our current educational system, creativity is typically confined to the arts. This book makes a very good argument for increasing education in creative areas to help our children succeed in the future. While reading, writing, and math are a great foundation, today's kids are surrounded by many different sense. Videos, music, and computer applications surround our kids and we need to help them understand the importance of the different areas in the sensory alphabet.

This book breaks down each of the elements and tells parents how to identify them, encourage them, and develop them. It even offers suggestions for possible career choices based on a child's sensory interests. I know I see different preferences in each of my kids and the suggestions of how to help develop these are wonderful. I also love that it's very low tech yet completely and directly translates to digital media.

The book is great at explaining how parents can incorporate each of these things at home outside of school hours. This is one of those books I'm going to save and read again when my kids are elementary age. I feel I am addressing each of these elements right now, but can see how I will need to make sure that continues as my kids get older. This book would be great for homeschoolers, but I do wish it did more to address how to do this in groups (traditional school, co-ops, camps). 

I was provided a copy of this book for free, but all opinions are my own.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Tale of Two Beds - Part 3

In case you missed it - A Tale of Two Beds, Part 1 and A Tale of Two Beds, Part 2

If you remember, the kids were already down to a room with just two beds. No dresser, shelves, or anything else they could hurt themselves on or break. First, the back story: I was at a football game and wonderful husband was at home with the kids. They were supposed to be taking a nap. Apparently there was a lot of loud banging, so my intelligent husband grabbed the camera to see what was going on. This is the photo he took as he opened the door.

Let me explain what you are seeing here. They have removed their mattresses (and pillows, blankets, etc). Sweet son has his shirt over his head, but is still wearing the sleeves. They each have a wooden board in their hands... Those boards are from sweet son's bed. They were attached on both sides and in order to get them off, my kids broke the wood. This is real solid wood, so not exactly something they are supposed to be able to break.

Sweet son was trying to take off more boards while sweet daughter is swinging boards around and banging them on the walls and windows (and very nearly her brother's head). In our constant struggle to keep our kids alive, clearly beds were a weapon.

This is the day we took the beds out of their room. They are down to just mattresses with bedding. We jokingly called it a prison room before, now it looks even worse. I love this photo. It clearly shows why we took the beds away. I'm always afraid someone will see their room and report us to Child Protective Services for not providing them real beds. This is my proof that we did give them beds and it was in their best interest to take them away. Everyone always looks at my kids and comments on how cute they are and how sweet they are; it's moments like the one captured in this photo that I think about.

A Tale of Two Beds - Part 4

Monday, November 12, 2012

Work and Duck-tifs

 Wonderful husband was working from home one Tuesday and I was trying to explain it to the kids. After going over this many times we have the following conversation:

Sweet Daughter: "Mama go to work?"
Me: "Mama's job is to make sure you grow up to be happy and productive people."
Daughter: "Mama all done work?"
Me: "Not quite yet" (laughing)
Daughter: "I happy. Brother, you happy?"
Sweet Son: "I'm happy."
Daughter: "Mama all done work."
Me: "I'm glad you are happy, but you must also be productive."
Daughter: "Po-duck-tif?"
Me: "You need to go to school and to be able to support yourselves."
Daughter: "I work at school. No more duck-tifs." (She walked away)

Using scissors is work

 This is one of my favorite Fall art projects. As you can see on my son, I paint their arm brown and their hand with dots of yellow, red, orange, and just a bit of green. Then they lay their arm on the paper and wave their hand back and forth to make a tree. Not completely child done and certainly not open ended, but it's always fun to have paint up to your elbow!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Riding Bikes

Wonderful husband and I both love riding bikes. While he goes almost every weekend to one of the off road trails around our house, I usually only get to ride my bike around the neighborhood a few times a year. The obvious solution? Teach the kids to ride bikes. Since my kids are short, we started by seeing which tricycles they could sit on and still reach the pedals. While this seems simple, there was only one option that met the requirement.

This was one of the more successful attempts. Turns out this model isn't very stable. If they kids turned the handles while moving the entire thing fell over. I'm sure part of it is because they had to sit so far forward in order to reach the pedals. However, when you fall off every minute, it's not much fun. They gave up quickly.

Our first solution was to get helmets. This didn't help with the balance and we needed another solution. I had heard of balance bikes for a couple of years. They are just like regular bikes, but without pedals. Kids learn to balance, steer, and just push with their feet. These had great reviews and fewer injuries. However, most balance bikes cost more than $200/each. That wasn't going to happen. Then, we found some cheap balance bikes at Wal-mart. After buying them online for in store pick up, it only took us 4 trips to 3 different stores to find 2 in stock.

The first few trips on the balance bikes were entertaining. The kids basically just walked with them around the neighborhood. However, they didn't fall and get hurt! Once the kids grow tall enough to sit on the seats, these will be great. (Poor kids, they really are short.)

They are happy and ask to go biking a few times a month. We ended up selling the tricycles and keeping these instead. I highly recommend balance bikes to anyone with young kids. It teaches important skills that tricycles and bikes with training wheels don't. They are safer because the kids have their feet down already and even my tiny kids learned how to get on and off of the bikes without getting hurt.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Glow Stick Fun!

I'm a big fan of after holiday sales, but don't have room to store things all year long. Luckily, glow sticks are awesome all the time. They are often 50-75% off just after Halloween so we buy a few.

It's hard to get a good photo of them. It was dark and of course our kids don't hold still!

We did take a couple of videos. The first shows the slow sticks inside balloons. This looked really cool and the kids loved it... until the balloons popped. Then they were crying and didn't want any more balloons.

The second video is just of the kids playing with the glow sticks in the back yard.

Simple, cheap and the kids LOVED playing outside in the dark. I've seen other people put glow sticks in the bathtub for a different experience. What have you done with glow sticks?