Sunday, March 30, 2014

Little Passports Month 8...INDIA!

*affiliate links in post

If you follow along, you KNOW I am a big lover of Little Passports. Brief synopsis for those not in the know already.  Little Passports is a children's monthly subscription box at a great affordable price.  These boxes make amazing gifts. What kiddo doesn't love getting mail?

Every month a brown padded envelope comes in the mail addressed to your child (if you want) Mine actually comes addressed to both boys.  You have the option of choosing between two different services. You can choose the US Edition or the World Edition.  The US Edition is for the older kids, so we review the World Edition in this house.  

Even though the boys fall into the age range, some of the activities are still a bit tricky. Which I LOVE. It gives you a chance to really help interact and learn with your children. How often do you REALLY get to do that?  I know through these past 8 months I have learned facts a well!

So this month Sam and Sophia traveled to INDIA!!



Who gets totally excited over a postcard?  THIS kid. (V stole the souvenir right away-more about that later)




Normally I read the letter, but this month Eric did the package with the kiddos and he let Aidan read it! Those letters do have a lot of info and are kind of long. Super proud of my guy.  Make sure to notice the hair.  Eric cut it!



V was on sticker duty for the passport.  Her curls KILL ME.



This month the info sheet includes a word search and a decoder puzzle!  One thing I really loved is the "menu" on the sheet.  I love, I mean LOVE, Indian Food.  I love how this has descriptions of the different types of food.  I always lean towards curry, since that is a easy one to know what it is. I might give some others a try now.  Gulab Jaman anyone?

Of course, yet again, the souvenir stole the show.  I try to keep all items that come in the suitcase so we can check them out later on.  This will not make it.  V has claimed it as hers and she now sleeps with it.

Nate looks super excited about it, huh?



V is starting to eye it....



Going in for grab...



 Now, it is hers.



So there you have it!  Month 8 of Little Passports!  Feel free to click the image below to get to the site to learn out more!



Disclaimer: Little Passports provided me with this box free of charge to review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All pictures and opinions are my own.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My first Gorton's Seafood #RealSolutions Review...and GIVEAWAY!

Being a blogger has some perks sometimes. One of my friends over at Thrifty Mom's Reviews told me about a fun new promotion through Gorton's and I jumped on it. I have fond memories of eating fish sticks (with tartar sauce), white rice, and peas as a kid. Sometimes I remember the oddest things.  It also occurred to me that V has NEVER had a fish stick!

Through Gorton's Seafood #RealSolutions Promotions I got to sample their new Artisan Fillets! The new Artisan line includes: Southern Style, Southwest Tortilla, Roasted Garlic & Italian Herb, and Lemon & Cracked Peppercorn.  For this review I tried the Roasted Garlic and Italian Herb.  (FYI, I first bought the incorrect type of fish.  I got the Signature Grilled Tilapia. It was really yummy!)



V's first fish stick experience was a success!!  She proclaimed YUM! and dunked them in ketchup.



The fillets cooked up nice and crisp and had a good crunch to them.



The insides were great as well.  Perfectly cooked. Outside crunchy, inside tender. SUCCESS! The seasonings were no overpowering at all.



I really liked these and will definitely get them again.  These make a great, tasty lunch at home.  Definitely on my shopping list for next week!  There are five in the box, so this is a great size for multiple lunches or the perfect size for a family dinner!  Each fillet, for all 4 styles, are 170 calories or under. Also they contain No fillers, MSG, artificial colors or flavors.

As I said in the title, there is a giveaway.  Gorton's is giving away two full-value coupons as well as a branded cutting board to one lucky reader. The board is NOT a huge board, it is a good size for veggies or strawberries.  I like how it doesn't take up a ton of room. I actually have mine on my counter standing up against my knife block. Enter down below!



While you are waiting to see if you won feel free to follow Gorton's Seafood on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!  You can even click this link to enter their Real Solutions Swepstakes. It is open March 3rd-April 21.

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was given coupons and the cutting board to facilitate my review.  Regardless, all impressions and thoughts are 100% honest.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Meadow Kids review

Having multiple kids I really spend way too much time searching for cool toys. You would think after almost 8 years we would have enough.  We DO have enough toys, but it is nice for V to get some new toys of her own. Enter Meadow Kids.


Meadow Kids is a company based out of the U.K. that caters to Preschoolers and up to age 8.  The toys and books are designed for family interaction. Not only can they be fun, they are also educational! When you click on a toy on their site, it tells you EXACTLY what you can expect to gain from the toy. (Problem Solving, Communication, Thinking, Create, etc.) 

We had the pleasure of getting to try out three toys from them!  We got the Fantasy World Dress Up Bath Time Stickers, Numbers and Shapes Learning Activity Set, and the Mix and Match Animal Pocket Chart.

The Numbers and Shapes Learning Activity Set is a bit too old for V, and I think a bit too young for the boys.  We haven't played with this one yet.  We are still working on her pen grab a bit before I pull this out. As you will see later on, she LOVES to draw, but I think the size of the pens are too small still.


The kit comes with 3 stamps, an ink pad, 6 markers, two sheets of stencils, and 8 erasable sheets. Once she is a bit older this will make a fantastic kit to keep in my bag.  She will be able to keep herself entertained when we are out and about.



The next toy we checked out was the Fantasy World Dress Up Bath Stickers. These didn't even make it to the tub yet. 



The foam pieces are rather sturdy and are a good size.  They are meant to go into the tub.  When wet the stick to the side of the tub and they float in the water!    This set comes with two girls and the possibility to make a witch, mermaid, doctor, cowgirl, or fairy. Of course you can always mix and match.  Fairy doctor? YES PLEASE!



I think this cat is ADORABLE.



I have officially saved the best for last. I LOVE this one.  LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  The Mix and Match Animal Pocket Chart.


This comes with an assortment of animal pieces, words, and a dry erase pen.  The back has a handy pocket for storing the cards, as well as a dry erase board.  I was scared V would have a hard time sliding the cards into the pocket, but it was not a problem at all.




I wrote her name on the back and then she decided to write Aidan and Nate. That is Nate at the top.  That is also the reason I haven't broken out the first item yet.  NOT quite there yet. 


Remember how I said they were interactive with parents? Here is why.  We need to work on letter recognition a bit.



Here is another video of V actually using the toy.  I love it!  Again, we do need to work on her spelling. 




So there you have it!  Three awesome toys from Meadow Kids.  I can totally picture us using these years from now.  Thanks Meadow Kids!

I did receive these items free of charge to facilitate my review.  Regardless, all opinions are my own.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PSA: How NOT to park

Full disclosure. I am EXHAUSTED.  I twisted my back yesterday trying to open the car door. It was frozen shut. I had no clue.  So my back hurts.  Then my husband got called in and I couldn't get back to sleep really after the 3am phone call. So I am beat and I hurt...a lot.  I am CRANKY today.

I am not sure why, but people in this neighborhood LOVE to park on the street.  We all have driveways, but some people just park in the road. Ok. I understand.  Too many cars in the driveway, fine. Car leaks oil at an incline, cool.  Our X-Terra was like that for a few weeks.  Calling for snow or ice? Again..I understand.

I have lived here for 4 years. There is literally a car on the main road that I have had to swerve around for the entire time. That annoys me, but not as much as what I experienced this morning.  I drew a diagram.
So....as you can see from my lovely drawing, people like to make it next to impossible to drive down the street. On my road you can easily drive next to someone.  It is a two lane street.  This house though parked a car and a truck in front of their house.  THAT IS FINE.  You can do that.  My beef is with the SUV.

They were not parked next to a driveway or even directly in front of a house on that side of the road.  I think all three vehicles were from the same house.  Why couldn't they park down the street a bit so the entire road wasn't clogged up?  There weren't any other cars around in the road.

Do you have any idea how annoying this is when you are trying to get kids to and from school or heading to work?  Everyone had to take turns, wait, drive real slow praying you didn't scratch the other cars, flash lights to signal whose turn it was to go.  ANNOYING.

So please, have some courtesy and don't do this...EVER. (unless you know, you live in an area where this is your only option. Have at it. In a basically empty street though...come on.  Have manners.)

Coming soon....How NOT to cut into the carpool line 8 months into the school year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

After school plans

A typical day after school (when we aren't running to therapy or a class)is like this:
Me:NATE...AIDAN...get changed and come downstairs!
Wait and wait and wait.
Me:  AIDAN!!!!!  NATE!!!!!!  Get down here!!!!

FInally about 20 to 30 minutes later they manage to get downstairs.  Then repeat the yelling until homework gets started.   Nate finishes first and he turns on the Wii.  Then I have more yelling because Aidan is watching Nate play and not doing his homework. Homework for a 2nd grader is REALLY easy by the way.  I am not trying to get him to do horribly horrible stuff.  I mean....write your spelling words.  Read in your book. MAYBE do a math worksheet.

The boys will get done with everything around 4:45-5pm. By that point I have had it. You see, I am NOT a "loud" person.  I can get loud, but I don't like loud.  I don't do noise. Yet, I have three kids.  

So typically after the homework is done, I let the boys play the Wii.  It use to be to occupy them while I get dinner started. Now though, they fight.  Who is playing what game. Who has what remote.  OMG Nate got the last power-up. It was my turn to level up.  MOMMMMM! Mommmmmm!!

So I am done.  I have put down my foot and said "No Wii on school days"  

Last week, Aidan was grounded from the Wii for lying.  It wasn't a huge thing he lied about either.  So he got a day.  THEN we went to speech and he loses his mind in there.  He seriously acts like he has no sense.  So, he lost games from Tuesday-Saturday. He really drove me batty. 

I realized something though....it was so much CALMER in my house without them playing.  I thought I needed it to get me through dinner making. I don't. The boys went up to their room and played with their Lego's.  IT WAS AMAZING.  Yesterday...same thing. I am kind of kicking myself for not putting in this rule in place sooner!  

I think the Wii ban is AMAZING! When they whine about not playing all I say is "Remember? We don't play Wii on school days." Their reply "Oh yeah. I forgot."  THAT.IS.ALL.  Ah-mazing.

Are other houses like this?  Is the noise driving you batty?  What rules have you put into place?


Monday, March 17, 2014

Little Passports Month 7 ...South Africa!

*affiliate links in post

Let me start like I always do, by giving you a brief overview of Little Passports.  Little Passports is a childrens monthly subscription box. Depending on your child's age you can choose the World Edition, which is geared towards younger kids and what I receive, OR you can choose the US Edition. The US edition is a bit out of Nate's age range, so we are traveling the globe!  

Every month your child gets a brown padded envelope (after the first month where you receive your suitcase) from a new location in the world.  It always says on the outside where it is from. I try to hide the packages and open them on the weekends when V is napping, but she has now discovered the awesomeness of this kit and she won't let us open it without her. It does make picture taking a bit trickier and a bit more chaotic around the table.

This month Sam and Sophia went to South Africa!  



Not gonna lie, the "souvenirs"  they send are pretty darn awesome.  This month they got...a bird whistle.  Not any old bird whistle.  It is one of those whistles you put water into and blow. I LOVE THESE.



This month had the traditional worksheets, stickers, and hangtag with gives you access to the online game content.  (We have yet to log in for this month)



Our travel suitcase is getting so full of stickers!!



Thank goodness for passport stickers!  Three stickers plus three kids equals a happy mom with happy kids.  Of course V puts the stickers ON the Little Passports logo. It took 7 months before it happened! I call that a win!



AIdan worked on the sheet, but really though...this month was, and is, still all about the whistle.  I kind of had to hide it from them. Shhh...don't tell them!




So there you have it!  Month 7 of Little Passports!  Feel free to click the image below to get to the site to learn out more!


Disclaimer: Little Passports provided me with this box free of charge to review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All pictures and opinions are my own.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring is coming!

Spring is coming!!!  This winter has been insane here. In one week we had 8 inches of snow, an earthquake, and then 70F. Mother Nature is definitely hitting the sauce this year. With spring approaching, I wanted to get some things going.  

First and foremost,the garden.

We started a raised bed garden the other year and I LOVE the results.  So V and I headed out and grabbed our seeds the other day to start inside.  I REALLY love doing this.  I probably should have bought a smaller starter kit.  I never really realized how large it was until I started planting them.  My garden is NOT that big.  We just have a 4'x8'.


V was more than excited to help out!



So we got them all planted and into the window in the dining room!


Speaking of which, outside that window I made Eric takes out some bushes. I really hated them.  They were big and pokey.  So long, bushes!  Not sure what we are putting there yet.  I am just glad they are gone. Neighborhood cats like to sleep/fight in there.  


I have always loved watching the birds from the windows and so do the kids. The other day I saw one of those compilations on Facebook. This was called "32 Cheap And Easy Backyard Ideas That Are Borderline Genius"   I clicked it like I always do and saw something on there that caught my eye.  It was this:


Click the picture to go to the original post on Juniper Moon Farm.  Being a knitter, I LOVED THIS. I have random balls of half used yarn all over.  So while I was at Walmart I picked up a couple of those "suet feeders".  Basically a little cage that you put a block of suet in.  (seeds in weird gooey stuff)  The feeders were less then $2 each and the suet itself was about $1.  

I moved a pole that the old home owners left from the top of the hill, right smack dab in front of our kitchen window. I really didn't think much would happen.  I mean, it is about 2 feet from the house.  I was SO wrong.

We have all kinds of birds coming.  I have seen bluejays, these little brown birds, and even some woodpeckers!  I really want to get a bird book so I can figure out what everything is now!


Oh, and we have a butthead of a squirrel.  V screams at him "GET OFF GROSS SQUIRREL!  YUCK!" She does not like him. I like watching him spin around. 


It has been outside for not even a week and is already pretty munched on. It even survived a HUGE rain storm with sleet.  Told you were were having weird weather.  It is currently 66.It sleeted 2 days ago.

I bought two suet holders so I could do the yarn as well!  According to her page this IS safe for birds.  Yarn IS recommended as an item to put outside for nest making. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says it is a safe material to put out and I trust them.  Go over to Juniper Moon Farm for more info and read a rousing debate in the comments!

So, I grabbed my yarn and cut it up!  I tried to find bright colors so we could see if any gets used in nests in the area!  




Look how cute!  I can't wait to see it be used!   


I'll post updates on everything as the season goes on!  What are you most excited about for this season?

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's amazing how little things can change everything.

As I have talked about before, Nate has epilepsy.   He has not had a seizure since we started the medication about 2 1/2 years ago, THANK GOODNESS, but it is amazing how a simple thing like an emergency medication can play into your everyday life.

Nate has a medication which has to be administered if he is having a seizure that lasts over 5 minutes.  He has NEVER had one that long and we have never had to use it.  The thing is, it goes everywhere with him.  His school has been trained on how to use it.  His teacher got additional training.  

Some teachers won't even consider using medications for kids in school.  Did you know that?  A teacher can OPT OUT of administering.  They can just say "Nope.  Call the nurse or first responder."  and wait there while your child needs help.  

On one hand, I can see that. They don't want to be held responsible in this "sue crazy" world.  On another hand, how do you not help a child? They could literally just watch as your child goes into anaphylactic shock from an allergy.  Nate's teachers have always been amazing and willing to do it if need be. 

Summer is quickly approaching and Aidan has gone to a science camp each summer for the past two years.  He LOVES it.  This year Nate wants to go.  I noticed on the application last year there was a "does your child use an epipen" box. We don't, but we have the diastat.  I just called the center and Nate may not be able to go. The camp is staffed with teachers that have been trained, but they may not be allowed to administer.

I am super bummed. If we can't get this verification, then I can't send either child.  It would be so unfair to Nate if Aidan went and he didn't.  They are checking around to see what the rules would be.

It is amazing how one little thing can ruin a summer. I know it isn't the end of the world if they don't go,but come on.  How often do you get a set of kids SUPER EXCITED about a science camp?  Education in the summer?  YES, PLEASE!

I try not to dwell on his epilepsy too much, but damn it, why does my kiddo have to have it?  Why does he have to be different?  He can't ride the school bus to school-no way to train the bus driver.  He can't go to a friends house (without us) without first confirming that the adult there would be willing to administer the drugs.  I just want things to be easy and wonderful for my kiddos.

Cross your fingers that they approve it, please!  Nate would LOVE to be able to go and I don't want to tell Aidan that he can't this year.  Science for all!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Looking for a unique spring break?

I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Colorado, but have never had the chance to make it out there.  Another thing I want to do...learn how to ski.

So this offer is AWESOME for Spring Break vacationers who want to be off the beaten path but still close to a major ski resort!   Check out Glen Eden Resort!
 

Glen Eden Resort is a small resort just north of Steamboat Springs on the Elk River, in a ranching community where the cows outnumber the people. The resort has two and three bedroom accommodations, with fully equipped kitchens, living and dining areas. The main lodge hosts a restaurant and tavern, two hot tubs, and wifi. Once you walk out the door there is a wide variety of winter recreational opportunities such as snowmobiling, horseback riding, ice fishing, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.

They are offering some last minute Spring Break Deals! Good until April 30th! Save 15% on two or three nights and 25% on four plus nights at Glen Eden Resort call 800-882-0854 for personalized service.

I mean seriously....who doesn't want to go here? 


Disclosure:  I am being entered into a contest for sharing this info through USFG.  Nothing else, just a contest entry.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate and Princess Adventure is coming!!! (And I have some passes!!!)

Do you remember when I told you about Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate and Princess Adventure coming to town?   Well....I have some more exciting news.  I get to give away a family four pack to the show on March 20th!!  Awesome, huh?

You can read all about the last time I attended the show HERE I am SO excited. The show was AMAZING.    You can find out all the info HERE for Charlotte and other cities.

Now...the fun part...the contest! I HAVE to have the info to the supplier of the tickets by March 10th. PLEASE make sure to check your email and my Facebook page on Saturday the 8th to see if you won! Good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




*I am receiving tickets in exchange for my promotion. Regardless, all reviews are my own. (My original post-I did not receive those tickets for promotion. So, you know, that was all me. )

Saturday, March 1, 2014

LEGO® KidsFest!!! We came, we saw, we built.

**VERY photo heavy post ahead. Proceed with caution.

When I first heard about the LEGO® KidsFest, I wasn't going to go. It was about a three-four hour drive depending on traffic. I would have to pull the boys out of school early on Friday since my tickets would be for the 28th. It was 4:00-8:30pm.   I just wasn't sure I wanted to do that.  

Let me tell you something though.  I am SO glad I did.  

I grabbed the boys at school at 11am because that was the time I THOUGHT you could pick them up and they were counted as present all day. Nope....it is 11:30am.  The lady in the office said she could count it as excused IF it was for a valid reason.  I claimed "educational trip". It worked.  We agreed building was a totally educational experience.  Threw the kids in the car, ran home, had lunch, threw them back in the car, and left.

LEGO® KidsFest opened at 4pm and after bathroom breaks and traffic we officially got in the building at about 4:45pm.

There is an AWESOME overlook where you can checkout the whole floor. IT WAS HUGE. I had no clue it would be this large.   Good thing I had comfy shoes on!



When you first walk in there are HUGE displays. I mean HUGE. This wall down here..made on a tiny board with little flat Legos.  AMAZING.


See Cinderella here?


V went to her HIP. Her HIP.



See Lightening McQueen here?   Kids SAT on him. Which is a big no-no. Please follow the rules and keep your children OFF the displays.  There are signs all over there!  Parents STILL flopped there kids on top of stuff.(and were told to remove the kids)


 I AM YOUR FATHA!!!
I was really hard to get pictures of some of these. If you want good pictures wait until the end when everyone is rushing to the checkouts OR make exasperated sighs and people will grab their kids for a second.  Make sure to say thank you though!


 ROAR!!!!

See that zebra in the background?  That was the main "Let's stick our kid up here and get yelled at" display.

There were many different areas to get lost in.  We started at one side and worked our way around a bit.  V enjoyed playing in the Duplo area.  There was LITERALLY a huge pile of bricks on the floor. You just walked on them. Seriously.    It was insane. V LOVED it,but was VERY careful.


There were also many displays in cases around the building.  This was V's favorite.   Just bunches of animals.


Next to the Duplo area is a "build you own car"area.  This was Aidan's favorite part.  We actually came here twice. This right here has to be the BEST picture I have ever taken of V and Nate.  Be warned. I am blowing it up HUGE.  Their faces are priceless.


 LOL. They are crazy.  At this point we were getting hungry and headed to the food area.  They had one booth with typical fried stuff: pizza ($8 and TINY), hot dogs, chicken tenders, fries.  THEN Whole Foods was there.  That line is short and where I ate.  I got a large fruit cup ($5), a chicken salad box ($7), and a pink lemonade bottle ($3).

There are NO water fountains on the floor.  People sell bottled water in there for $3.  If I could do it again, I would eat BEFORE I get there. There seriously is a TON to do and we just had 3 1/2 hours.  If I have the entire time with no food breaks I feel like I could have seen it all, but the food lines are long.  There are plenty of tables.I managed to snag an entire table for our group.

Next to where we sat there was a reading area. Nate just wanted to flip through the books and check everything out.  So proud of my guy!


The most impressive thing I saw there was the US map. They had tables and tables set up. You grabbed a green square and built what you wanted to, then, it got placed on the map where ever you requested.

Nate made a pool.


Aidan made a thing.  lol


Nate gave the guy the pool to place and V wanted to place something, so she picked up something off the table and handed it to the placer. Can you spot Nate's pool? V's thing is right next to it.


 There it is!!


Aidan's is here in Hawaii.  You can't really see it well.


Eric pointing it out to him.  It was rather flat.  There are lots of pokey buildings around it.


View as we were leaving.  These kids built some AMAZING pieces of art.  They truly were art.



Fun fact.  How do you clean up tons of Legos?  SNOW SHOVELS.



Not pictured is the Chima exhubit, hero building, Star Wars area, Lego Friends, Lego friends FREE photo booth (V and I went twice), merchandise area, and they toy shop area. They also had master builders and an entire aisle I have no clue what was on. I ran out of time.  FYI, Minifigs Series 10 on sale for $1.48 (I think)  Don't quote me.

Anyway, it was an AMAZING day and I will definitely be back next year if it comes around!

Make sure to follow LEGOKidsFest on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for all the latest ticketing updates.   LEGO®  KidsFest has been selling out in prior cities!  You don't want to miss this if it comes around near you!



DATES & SESSIONS:

Friday, February 28
4 pm - 8:30 pm

Saturday, March 1
Session I: 9 am - 1:30 pm
Session II: 3 pm - 7:30 pm

Sunday, March 2
Session I: 9 am - 1:30 pm  SOLD OUT!
Session II: 3 pm - 7:30 pm SOLD OUT!

(Note: Each session offers the same exhibits and activities)

WHERE:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

www.raleighconvention.com

*I have been given tickets through USFG in exchange for my review and promotion.  All excitement, thoughts, feelings,opinion, and general LEGO®  geeking out is totally my own.