Kidz Bop

Disclosure: I received product(s) reviewed below in exchange for this post. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

When you’re driving down the road, listening to your own radio station and your kid starting screaming singing along to “I woke up in a new Bugatti”, you know it’s time to get some new tunes.

We’ve had this talk before. Greg and I were raised with our parents’ music and some kid / faith music sprinkled in. We want our kids to be raised the same way. But there are just some tunes that the kids really shouldn’t be singing along to. That’s why having a copy of Kidz Bop on hand is a good idea.

Kidz Bop 24 and Kidz Bop Christmas! are two good options if you’re still looking for a gift. Both are available as downloads or CDs, so you can plug them in wherever you listen to music.

Kidz Bop Christmas
Credit: KidzBop.com

Not that listening to Christmas music is tough on the ears or morals, but Kidz Bop Christmas brings you 15 classics (like “Winter Wonderland” and “I Saw Three Ships”. These are more the mainstream songs of the season and not necessarily the carols you’ll be singing in church on Tuesday evening. Our kids enjoyed Jingle Bell Rock and asked to hear it over and over. (Thanks to Greg having them watch Home Alone on repeat, I’m pretty sure.)  You can grab your own copy by checking out KidzBop.com.

Kidz Bop 24
Credit: KidzBop.com

And Kidz Bop 24 is full of songs from the summer of 2013 that are likely earworms in your head if you’ve been listening to your local pop station. “I Love It” is one of those songs in our house. We really shouldn’t be letting our kids sing about crashing cars into bridges and letting them burn. Instead, now they are singing “I drove my car across the bridge” and appending it with “like we do when we go to the grocery store, Mommy!”. I’ll take it. I also get to hear them sing “Girl on Fire” and “Mirrors”, two of my favorite workout songs. A great last minute gift, you can find it here.

Both of these CDs come recommended by the kids and Greg (who spends the most time in the car with them). We’ll definitely be using them on road trips to keep the sponges from overhearing too much. 😉 Thanks for saving our sanity, Kidz Bop!

+

Interested in a quick giveaway? Enter here through 11:59 PM on December 26. 18+, US Only. Prize fulfilled by Kidz Bop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

+

One more item we got to check out was a musical toothbrush from Arm & Hammer Tooth Tunes. Arianna will be getting a “Party in the USA” toothbrush in her stocking, and if her singing this song at a year old is any indication, I am sure she’ll love it. I’ve seen these in stores while shopping, so I am sure you can still grab one.

Rufus and Ryan Go to Church!

Disclosure: I was sent a book in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

“Making connections” is one of the comprehension skills of literacy. Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! is a book that made such awesome connections to our ‘lil boy that I shed tears that first time I read it.

Source: idealsbooks.com

Do you see why, yet?

So sweet, this story by Kathleen Long Bostrom tells the story of four-year-old Ryan who takes his stuffed monkey (Rufus) to church.

Just like our Evan and Monkey/Baby, Ryan and Rufus:

  • Greet the pastor
  • Love the Bible story (especially the Ark)
  • Sing VERY LOUDLY
  • Fidget
  • Say AMEN!

I seriously shed tears the first time I read it, because I know Evan would enjoy reading a book like him. Sadly, he didn’t get it at first, but Arianna totally made the connection. She was dancing on her carpet square as the story went on, smiling ear to ear. When it was done, she said, “Bubby, that story is just like YOU!”. And then I think it clicked with our ‘lil boy. 😉

Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! is the first in a board book series for kids ages 2-5. This series (which includes Rufus and Ryan Say Their Prayers) provides a simple, child-friendly introduction to the concepts of Christianity, starting with going to church and saying prayers. In addition, the books focus on character traits and development. The text is presented in young Ryan’s voice as he teaches Rufus about the things he is learning himself.

You can find the series at  http://www.idealsbooks.com. This book retails for $7.99.

Marked Moments

Disclosure: I was asked to write a review in exchange for the product(s) below. All opinions are 100% my own.

It is not often that a package comes my way and I am all “I have to get on the blog and write about this right now“, but it definitely happened last night. When Travis from Marked Moments, an Etsy shop, asked me if he could help me make my tree look even more awesome, I took him up on the dare.

He was right.

So right.

If you don’t know, our dogs are a huge part of our lives. They have their own beds and stocking (okay, they share for now). We really feel like we have four kids with our two friendly beasts. What Travis and Ela of Marked Moments did was recognize that and offered to send me ‘Rowdy’ and ‘Shadow’ personalized ornaments like these. They realized how important our furbabies are to us, and wanted to help us include them in the Christmas memories.

First of all, the presentation of the delivery is superb. Turnaround time is fast. They are in Texas, I am in Pennsylvania and in less than four days, I told Travis “go” and have the ornaments on my tree. Even better, the box inside the padded envelope is gorgeous and just might come in handy as I gift others this holiday.

Okay, enough. I know you want to see what I am so excited about – the dog bone ornaments that Marked Moments personalized for Rowdy and Shadow!

Untitled

I know to some people these may just be wooden ornaments etched in dog names. But to me, these are a part of our lives. 95% of our tree is personalized ornaments in some fashion. We had nothing for our furbabies, so now we do!

The detail on the ornaments is incredible. I really love the edge work which you might see better as they hang on the tree:

Untitled

 

Travis and Ela, you made me one happy mom. Arianna was so excited to hang these birch wood ornaments and have our pups included. Thank you for helping us celebrate the season!

If you’re wondering about our whole tree look, just be patient. There’s a post on just that. 

+

You have until Monday, December 16 to place an order on Marked Moments for Christmas delivery: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MarkedMoments And they don’t do just dog bones. Think last names, baby’s first Christmas, gift tags, cupcake toppers, and bride/groom hangers (making me want to redo our wedding reception, so adorable). Go, look. The prices are reasonable (my ornaments will run you $12 each plus shipping – but there’s a code out there for free shipping on orders over $50, sorry for any confusion) and the quality is definitely a perk on these keepsakes.

Join me in liking them on Facebook, too!

Toy Safety

I’ve been busy sharing lots of toy reviews with you this holiday season, but how about safety?!?! Edgar Snyder & Associates shared this infographic with me, and I’d love you to take some time and review it.

Source: Edgar Snyder & Associates

To read more about Toy Safety and recalls, please visit Edgar Snyder’s website: http://www.edgarsnyder.com/seasonal/winter-holiday-safety/toy-safety-tips.html

Typhoon Frenzy™ Roller Coaster Building Set

Disclosure: At no cost to me/in exchange for a blog review, K’NEX sent me the Typhoon Frenzy™ Roller Coaster Building Set through their Toys “R” Us® Mom Blogger Promotion. All opinions are 100% my own.

When my dad was visiting schools for his Master’s Program, we visited Ohio one weekend. During that stay, our car caught fire (will definitely blog this someday) and we had to stay at a friend’s home for longer than expected. Frankly, I was happy because I’d be working on building a roller coaster with a set very much like the new Typhoon Frenzy™ Roller Coaster Building Set from K’NEX. 

You see, I don’t love to ride roller coasters at all because I try to stand up. BUT, I do love the physics of a coaster. *math and science nerd* So, this set is kinda sorta right up my alley. Not only does it remind me of a crazy time in my past, but it it super fun to build with the ‘lil ones in your life.

Bring a wave of fun from the ocean to your living room with the new Typhoon Frenzy Roller Coaster Building Set from K’NEX!  Build with over 640 K’NEX parts & pieces including, rods, connectors and track, and add motorized power to send the silver coaster car twisting and turning through over 19 feet of swirling, non-stop action!  Plus, download exclusive instructions to build an incredible second model, the Tsunami Surge™ Coaster!  All K’NEX rods and connectors are made in the USA!

image013

 

That’s just one way you can set it up. Make sure you have space and energy – the kids will likely have questions on it, but to me, that’s okay.

The Typhoon Frenzy™ Roller Coaster Building Set is recommended for ages 9+. Suggested retail price is $39.99.  Available exclusively at Toys “R” Us.http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=23263786

Super Mario 3D Land™ Bowser’s Castle Building Set

Disclosure: At no cost to me/in exchange for a blog review, K’NEX sent me the Super Mario 3D Land™ Bowser’s Castle Building Set through their Toys “R” Us® Mom Blogger Promotion. All opinions are 100% my own.

image011

 

This set, recommended for kids 8-12, is definitely going to make the Mario Bros. lover in your life extremely happy this holiday season. At a price tag of $99.99, it’s a big gift that can go a long way.

The Super Mario 3D Land™ Bowser’s Castle Building Set lets your builder:

Go on a brand new adventure with Mario™ – battle Bowser™, and save the princess in the FINAL course! Featuring K’NEX’s all new jump disk and launcher that allow Mario to run and jump, like he does in the game. Build Mario and make your way through the entrance gate to Bowser’s Castle!  Look out for Draglet – a battery-powered motor makes him a spinning danger at the entrance.  Use the track slider to cross the pit, and jump up to collect the coins!  Watch out for the Fireballs – you make them move by turning the white connector.  Hurry past the spinning Fire Bars, and hit the mystery box – what did you get?  Jump across the moving platforms, through the warp pipe and up the elevator platform to Bowser’s final hiding place!  Use the jump launcher to knock him down!  Save Princess Peach™, pop-up the goal flag and you’ve WON THE GAME!  Combine your Bowser’s Castle building set with the rest of the K’NEX Super Mario™ building set line to take Mario on an even BIGGER adventure!

I really had to contain myself when this box came my way. Although my brother was the builder, I definitely loved me some Mario. To be able to build and then engage in imaginative play of a beloved video game would be awesome. But when I saw the pricetag and the amazingness that could happen with this set, I opted to put it in our pile of items to make a kid in need’s Christmas super special. My kids are too young for the recommended age and would have turn this beauty apart. With that in mind, I can’t tell you anything about the ease to put this together, but I can tell you that others reviewed it and noted it met expectations of holding together and is a perfect set to pair with the set I reviewed last week (Super Mario Bros.™ 2 Thwomps™ Building Set).

If you’d like to get this set for your ‘lil ones, visit Toys “R” Us or online at http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=21399696.

For ages 8+.  Suggested retail price is $99.99.  Available exclusively at Toys “R” Us.

Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

As Brownie the Groundhog settles in for her long winter nap, she warns her friends not to wake her. Of course, they miss her and give her a surprise. The story of “Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise” tells the tale of the shenanigans her forest pals create as they work to make the wake-up worth it.

Brownie Groundhog and the Wintry Surprise
Credit: Sterling Publishing

At first, I wasn’t really getting the theme of “they’re waking her because they miss her”, but I definitely laughed along at author Susan Blackaby’s plot and fun language (like “Bumble Crumpet”). And the illustrations by Carmen Segovia are colorful and entertaining, too.

While a bit long to keep my kids up with the plot, they enjoyed the book and laughed lots as we read it. They even liked the extra surprise for fox at the end…because it involved one of their favorites, pie. And I have to give Brownie credit, I would have been pretty upset if my friends woke me up before spring!

You can find this book in bookstores on online through Sterling Publishing. It retails for $14.95 as a hardback and is recommended for children ages 3 and up.

 

Super Mario Bros.™ 2 Thwomps™ Building Set

Disclosure: At no cost to me/in exchange for a blog review, K’NEX sent me the Super Mario Bros.™ 2 Thwomps™ Building Set through their Toys “R” Us® Mom Blogger Promotion. All opinions are 100% my own.

Oh boy. My brother was pretty jealous of the last review I put up, and it was a tub of K’NEX. Can’t wait to hear his thoughts on this (and the next) ones!

Today, we’re talking the Super Mario Bros.™ 2 Thwomps™ Building Set. This set made me, a true nerd at heart, squeal. It’s going to definitely make some kid’s holiday, let me tell you. The set is a castle from the beloved Super Mario Bros. series. There are cool action pieces to it that allow Mario (or Luigi) to run and jump (boing, boing!) through the castle.

Source: K’NEX

This set includes Fire Mario™, Silver Luigi™, gold coins, Power Up mushroom, warp pipes, Bone Goomba™, and Thwomps. It’s part of a line of Super Mario Bros. themed K’NEX building sets and can definitely bring your gaming world to life (once you build it, of course).

Who else is excited by this? Did you play Super Mario Bros. as a kid?

+

For ages 8+.  Suggested retail price is $59.99.  Available exclusively at Toys “R” Us.  http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=21399666

Christmas Eve with Mrs. Claus

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Here’s another fun holiday book to add to your collection: M.P. Hueston’s “Christmas Eve with Mrs. Claus”. Via Heuston’s words and Teri Weidner’s illustrations, your children will learn what exactly happens at the North Pole while Santa is out and about bringing gifts to the world.

Christmas Eve with Mrs. Claus
Credit: Sterling Publishing

Mrs. Claus is hard at work baking treats with the help of her North Pole creatures. The book is full of lift-a-flaps for surprises as to where the missing ingredients are stowed. At the end, there’s even a surprise for Mrs. Claus thanks to her helpers.

This book is charming and a fun “is it here” game for the kids. Mine enjoyed the flaps and got a hungry tummy while reading about the gingerbread, biscuits, and other treats the Mrs. Claus is whipping up. (And my kids are rough readers…the flaps should stand up to normal use. We’ve yet, knock on wood, had an issue.)

You can find your own copy to add to your collection (or Holiday Wish List) at Sterling Publishing‘s website. This book, a hardback, retails for $12.95 and is recommended for kids ages 3-7.

Personal Planner

Disclaimer: I received a customized Personal Planner in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

If you didn’t find just the right gift for that super organized person in your life, this Personal Planner from personal-planner.com might be just the right thing. Just act quick if you want to personalize a planner – the deadline for ordering them is December 3 (tomorrow) at 6 pm. You can still get a pdf gift certificate so your receiver can create their own through December 25. 

When I read the pitch for this product, I knew it was a great fit for my life:

The company has created a fill-in-the-blanks template just for the design obsessed. Ranging from $18.95 – $21.95, here are the details for this thoughtful gift:

*Outside:*

– upload pictures from desktop and Instagram

– design front & back covers, change images, font color and background

*Inside:*

– pick which month/yr you want the planner to begin with- no longer limits

you to the start of each calendar year

– design writing space details:i.e. “work”, “workout”, weather, etc…

include personal calendar dates throughout the year

– at check out you can choose discreet packaging if planner is a gift

I’ll be using mine to supplement my phone and email calendars. Sometimes even being technologically savvy means missed appointments and bills. I’ll be able to jot down quick thoughts and “see” what I’ve got happening each day.

My customized personal-planner has a front cover with a photo of Greg and the kids:

Front Cover

The back boasts my medals from runs in 2013, an incentive to keep my butt moving:

(So you can see both)

 

I was able to quickly upload these photos to the personal-planner site. Both are actually from Instagram, and the quality turned out fine. (Any weirdness in the photos here are due to the fact that my phone was dying when I took these, and I had to turn off the flash so they shininess wouldn’t come through.) The hardest part? Selecting which photos I’d be using.

Inside, there’s a message for anyone who finds my planner, should I lose it.

My info’s there below my name, but I left it out for photo purposes.

 

Each day has ample space for writing in the plans. I opted to have a training block on each so I can keep tabs on my exercise. There’s a to-do list and a “list of the week” section, too. Haven’t decided how I’ll use that list yet, but I might use it to start some top 10 blog post ideas.

The site even lets you put in special days. I added our birthdays and anniversaries, but I wish I’d taken more time to add in others’ birthdays, too.

Shh…don’t remind me that he’ll be four in a ‘lil over a year.

My favorite part, so far, is the overview section. There’s one for 2014 and 2015. I’ll be able to “big plan” my year, which is an excellent way to keep track of all.the.things.

Extras (included in the price) were a ruler/bookmark, a clear folder for keeping “stuff” – mine is housing business cards that I need to reach out to for blogging stuff, Arianna said I should use it for more pics, and extra “notes” pages at the end.

Shipping was quicker than I expected (about a week) and it came in an adorable box (which I forgot to photograph before trash day, sorry).

While I won’t be using this planner until the end of the month (my start date), I’m excited. It will be a great way to stay organized and keep a personal touch. Thank you, personal-planner.com, for making this possible.

Be sure to stop over to personal-planner to check them out.