New Year's Blog Bash iPad2 Giveaway - Ends 1/31


Welcome to the New Years Blog Bash iPad 2 Giveaway! Did you want an iPad 2 and didn't get one?! Well here is your chance to win one! It's simple and easy! Giveaway runs Dec 31st at 12:01am - Jan 31st at 11:59pm eastern time!
Use the rafflecopter form below.
Entries:
ALL Facebook "likes" are mandatory - this will be verified.
ALL Twitter "follows" are optional - this will be verified if you choose to do this as optional entry.
Daily tweet allows you 2 extra entries per day!

Costume Super Center Deluxe Police Officer Costume Review



Costume Super Center





I recently received the Deluxe Police Officer costume from Costume Super Center, and I've got to say, it is definitely a HUGE hit here at our house. The costume kit comes complete with pants, shirt, hat, belt, gun holster, and real whistle and fits a size 4-6.  It has provided countless hours of fun for my little boy already!




While I wasn't crazy about the plastic gun holster & belt (which is WAY too big), I loved everything else about this costume. The pants have an elastic waist which make them easy on/easy off which is a plus for younger kids. The shirt closes in the front with velcro but still looks like it was buttoned up and the embroidered patches add an air of authenticity. We purchased an accessories kit from a toy store (some of which you see in the photo above), but some additional accessories can also be purchased directly from Costume Super Center to add to the dress-up experience. The Deluxe Police Officer Costume itself is $32.99.

The costume is machine washable as well which makes it great for dress-up and pretend play. We are very pleased with our selection!



Costume Super Center has a huge selection of costumes for young and old alike in a variety of prices ranges. Check them out online and find them on FACEBOOK!


*Disclosure: I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

$25 Amazon e-Gift Card Giveaway - Ends 1/30/12


I recently reached 1000 Fans on Facebook & I could not have done it without all of you. To show my appreciation, I am hosting a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card giveaway for my FOLLOWERS


You must follow me via one of the following methods in order to enter: Twitter, FB, GFC, or G+.


One randomly chosen winner will receive a $25 Amazon e-gift card. This giveaway is open to U.S. & Canada only, 18 and older. Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize once emailed or a new winner will be chosen. Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Tomorrow, our day will be full with celebrating the birth of our Lord and spending time with family, but on this Christmas Eve day, I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and leave you with one of my little boy's favorite poems: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. 

Happy Holidays!



'Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas 
soon would be there.

The children were nestled
all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums
danced in their heads.

And Mamma in her 'kerchief,
And I in my cap,
had just settled down for a long winter's nap.

When out on the lawn 
there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

And what to my wondering
eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh
and eight tiny reindeer!

With a little old driver,
so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment 
it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles 
his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted,
and called them by name:

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on , Cupid!
On, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch!
to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away! dash away!
dash away, all!"

And then, in a twinkling,
I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing
of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head,
and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas
came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur,
from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished
with ashes and soot.

His eyes - how they twinkled!
his dimples - how merry!
His cheeks were like roses,
his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth
was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin
was as white as the snow.

He had a broad face
and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed,
like a bowlful of jelly.

He spoke not a word,
but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings-
then turned with a jerk;

And laying his finger
aside of his nose,
and giving a nod,
up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh,
to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew
like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim,
ere he drove out of sight:

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Perfect Gift Idea: iCaughtSanta.com




Imagine the look of wonder and surprise when a child receives a photo of Santa caught in the act in his or her very own home. iCaughtSanta.com is a unique website that helps visitors create those memorable keepsake photos.
 

In three simple steps anyone can upload a holiday photo, add Santa Claus and print it as proof… or share it via Facebook and Twitter. Last-minute shoppers can purchase Gift Cards and eGift Certificates for loved ones with children, making iCaughtSanta.com a great gift idea even if you don't have kids yourself.

Merry Christmas!

Vintage Remedies for Kids Review





Vintage Remedies for Kids by Jessie Hawkins
$25.00 (additional charges may apply such as tax and shipping)
Spiral Bound, 6"x9", 202 pages

From the website:

Based on the popular Vintage Remedies for Girls and Guys curriculum, this edition is perfect for younger siblings! Vintage Remedies for Kids helps parents teach  healthy and natural living to boys and girls ages 2-6. This new workbook is packed with projects covering every aspect of natural living including wellness, nutrition, immunity, natural body care, and the conservative use of valuable natural resources - in terms they will understand and remember! 

My Personal Thoughts:






Don't ask me why, but I absolutely love receiving things wrapped in brown paper, especially when they are tied with string. So, I was smitten with this company from the get-go. 
Then, I discovered that I received an extra goody, The Kitchen Herbal (retails for $9.95) and that was it - I was head over heels. There aren't a whole lot of companies out there today who go the extra mile for their customers and I was very impressed by the fact that they went above and beyond what was required. Little details are big in my book, and www.vintageremedies.com has that covered.

Let me start with The Kitchen Herbal. In this book, Jessie Hawkins covers the traditional and medicinal use of 18 different traditional culinary herbs such as basil, cinnamon, lavender, oregano, and more. Recipes are included for each herb and spice, and as delicious as they sound, I have not yet had time to try them. I am looking forward to doing so. The author also instructs the reader on cultivating, harvesting, and storing these herbs. Wonderful book to have on hand or to gift to somebody.

Now, on to Vintage Remedies for Kids! Although I have had this book for several weeks, I am still reviewing it and using the curriculum with my son who will soon be 4. The book is intended for kids ages 2-6 who are just beginning to notice the choices that are made in their lives on a daily basis. My son has always had issues with textures of foods and to this day, he hardly eats anything and what he does eat does not have much nutritional value. In spite of this, his is taller than most children his age but he does seem to catch more bugs than most of us. We have tried to explain that there are vitamins in foods that help to keep us healthy and since he doesn't eat the right kinds of foods, his body cannot fight off the bad germs very well. Currently, he has been sick for over a week now with a virus. We have gone through about 9 boxes of tissues! This has been the perfect time to go over Section Two: Health and Wellness. Particularly these chapters: How to catch a bug, Staying healthy, and When I get sick. Mr. B was VERY interested in what I was reading and kept asking me to "read more, Mommy." I think it is one thing for us to tell our children something, but when they hear it read to them from a book, it sometimes sinks in better. 

I appreciate having the "Thinking it Over" sections which is basically like a review/quiz/talk about it session all in one. This helps the lesson to sink in, and my son always likes discussing things and telling me his take on the matter. I know this will help him to remember what he has learned and perhaps he will be encouraged to try new foods since they will help keep him healthier. 

Each section also has "Leading by Example" which helps to teach the teacher so to speak and also a "Projects" lesson(s) so children can learn by doing, thus reinforcing what they were just taught. This is one book that I can see myself referring to often and using for several more years at least since my youngest is not quite 2 yet. 

Coloring sheets to go along with the lessons can be added to your cart and downloaded in pdf format for free HERE

If you are interested in learning more about natural health, I highly recommend visiting their website to see all that they have to offer in way of products as well as programs. I have visited other such sites in the past, but personally was very impressed with everything about Vintage Remedies.


Read what other TOS Crew members thought of this product HERE.


*Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. ALL opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

West Music Glockenspiel Review






I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the Basic Beat 12-Note Glockenspiel from West Music and I must say, it exceeded my expectations. Up until now, my experience with bells has been my toddlers toy xylophone and I think I vaguely remember being allowed to try playing them in music class when I was in elementary school. Let me tell you, I was impressed!


If you are looking for Classroom Instruments for your homeschooler, Co-op, or music class I recommend visiting West Music and checking out all that they have to offer. West Music is currently offering free upgraded shipping (standard to expedited) on orders placed December 17th to December 19th. 


My Review:


The instrument was shipped via UPS and was very well packaged to ensure no damage would occur. Below are the pictures of the 12-note colored bell set I received, complete with everything included: hardshell case with magnetic staff board on the inside cover, 12 magnets, 2 extra F# bars, 1 extra Bb bar, and two pair of mallets.



This retails for $39.95

*It is important to note that these instruments are not toys and can present a choking hazard to children under 3 years of age!


Since I play the piano, I had plenty of music on hand but due to the limitation of notes available I only played songs written in the keys of C, F flat, and G#. The F# and Bb bars are very easy to switch out and while they are not a vibrant bright color like the other bars, they still produce a beautiful chime. I tried each song with both pair of mallets and found that one set achieved a slightly more muted tone but both results were clear and beautiful. 


Here is a short video, which honestly doesn't do the instrument justice, but please keep in mind that this was recorded after only playing several songs to get the hang of it.


video


That was, "Twas the Night Before Christmas". While my technique needs work, isn't the tone of the bells beautiful? I am looking forward to learning to better play this instrument and using it in our homeschool music classes! After playing the 12-note, I now have my eye on the 25-note chromatic glockenspiel! I think that would actually be easier for me to play since it has both diatonic and chromatic notes.  Don't get me wrong though, I believe most people could learn to play the 12-note basic that I had the privilege of reviewing and in most cases would enjoy it! Visit West Music and see for yourself what a wonderful selection they have!


*Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received. 







I See Cards- Fractazmic Review

The Most Fun You'll Ever Have Learning Fractions!

I have nothing but good things to say about the Fractazmic educational cards, by the makers of I See Cards! This game is a fun lesson that lets your child practice at his own individual level. 

To say that my 6th grader does not like math would be putting it mildly so I was more than a bit surprised when she was the first to ask me to play Fractazmic. I was even more surprised that she kept playing even when she had some trouble adding fractions. My husband was very patient with her, and we took a bit more time explaining how to convert and add fractions, and once she got the hang of it, she did not want to stop playing. She loves this game, and that is saying A LOT! 

What's more, she retained what she learned (and she thought she was just having FUN!) and scored 100% on a fractions test that she had to take the next day. I wish I had captured her smile on camera. She was so proud of herself! Even though she is finished with her fractions lessons, she continues to want to play the game. It is just THAT much fun!





Fractazmic Decks Include:

  • 60 Math Learning Cards
  • Each card clearly numbered
  • Each card clearly labeled with the fraction and reinforcing graphic.

What makes Fractazmic Decks Special:

  • Quickly learn to convert and add fractions.
  • Reinforces relationship between fractions and measurements.
  • Shows real world use of fractions.


Fractazmic is intended for grades 1-8, but I personally feel that it could be used for children of all ages. The brightly colored cards add to the fun. Nothing boring about this game! (Never thought I'd say that about a "math" game.)


How to Play:


This game is for 2-4 players.


The object of the game is to create as many "hands" as possible before a player runs out of cards. "Hands" are made by adding together the fraction cards within a suit to equal one (1). Game ends when a player runs out of cards. The winner is the player with the most "hands". 


The Fractazmic deck has 3 suits in three different colors: the 16ths are red, the 12ths are blue, and the 10ths are green. In each colored suit, the cards can be combined multiple ways to equal 1. 


The only "con" I possibly have about this game is that the box wasn't very sturdy and fell apart right after we opened it which is not really a big deal because I can glue it or store the cards in something other than the box. 


If you have a child who is struggling with fractions, or you just want a fun supplement for your math lessons, I highly recommend Fractazmic! 


For additional ways to play and to learn about their other FUN games, visit Fractazmic at www.fractazmic.com. Cards can be purchased on the website as well for $6.95 (plus shipping and tax where applicable) for the 60 card deck. 


Download a 28 page pdf booklet HERE that explains how to play the different games they have to offer such as Pyramath & Prime Bomb.


To read what other TOS Crew members thought of this product, click HERE to read their reviews.


*Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra!

I've been so busy that I haven't really posted much besides reviews and giveaways lately, but I sort of felt like I should publicly thank my husband for what should have been an awesome birthday/Christmas present. And, it would have been had I not had a migraine. 


See....he bought tickets for me and our 3 older children to see Trans Siberian Orchestra when they came to town on December 1st. If you have ever been to a TSO concert, you will understand why it's not a good idea to go to one with a migraine. If you have never seen them live, or if you have no idea who they are, you are totally missing out! 



This was my 6th time attending one of their concerts. I missed the past couple of years due to being pregnant and on bed rest and then last year, we just didn't have the money to go. Our seats weren't the greatest, (Section 212, Row B, Seats 13/14/15/16) but we still had a great view. TSO really puts on an awesome show. The laser lights this year were better than I've ever seen them and they even incorporated a moving stage into the act. I don't know of any other band who performs for a solid 2 1/2 hours either. You definitely get your money's worth with TSO. I have to say that I was more than a bit disappointed to learn that the concert was being performed by the West Coast troupe rather than the East Coast troupe whom I had grown accustomed to seeing. They were still great, but not Chris Caffery or Mark Wood or Mee Eun Kim. Looking at the TSO website, I'm not even sure Mark Wood is still with the band, but I missed seeing him and his rockin' glow-in-the dark electric violin. 


On a funny note, it kind of struck me as odd to see people chowing down on pizza & ice cream during their concert and there aren't too many places you will see people dressed like they are going to either a full fledged orchestra performance or a mosh pit. I LOVE TSO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I look forward to seeing them again in 2012! If you have the chance, you definitely should go see them. 


Thank you hubby for the tickets!

Chick-fil-a Holiday Quiz & Prize Pack Giveaway- Ends 12/26




Enter to win a Chick-fil-a prize pack consisting of :


5 Cow Watches & 2 Chick-fil-a Plush Cows! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. 




Zaggora Hot Pants Review

Zaggora Hot Pants seem to be all the rage right now. If you have never heard of them (I hadn't until this review opportunity presented itself), visit their website to learn more about what they are and what they are supposed to do. 


According to all of the reviews & articles I have read about the Hot Pants, they are hot stuff! People are losing inches left and right just from taking the 2-week challenge. They are dropping pounds. They are needing to buy new clothes. Which leaves me to wonder what went wrong with my 2-week challenge?


The technology behind the Hot Pants is specially engineered  Celu-Lite (tm). By increasing your perspiration by up to 80%, it uses your natural body heat to help reduce body fat and the visible appearance of cellulite. 


I was looking forward to taking my own 2-week challenge. I had just started eating healthier and had begun walking 1/2 hour to 45 minutes daily so I was eagerly anticipating losing 2 jean sizes in 2 weeks myself. This was not the case. 


The first "problem" that I had with this challenge was that the Hot Pants were too big for me. I ordered an XL because of the clothing size that I normally wear, when a L would have sufficed. Also, because I am short (just over 5'), they fit more like capris rather than exercise shorts. I don't know how much this affected their performance. The next issue that I had with them is that they had a rubber odor which bothered my asthma. The most I could wear them was several hours at a time. I made sure to wear them when exercising and when I knew I would be bustling around the house doing housework. I did notice that they made me sweat. A LOT. It wasn't a feeling that I enjoyed, but it convinced me that the Hot Pants were doing their job. I took measurements before and after, and after my 2 weeks were up, there was no difference whatsoever in my waist, my hips, or my thighs. I tried wearing them under my regular clothes, but they were just too bulky because of being too big. I also don't like how much of a pain they are to wash and considering how much they make a person sweat, washing is something I was compelled to do often. They must be hand washed and air dried. This is difficult to do if you wear them on a daily basis. Apparently, some people even sleep in them! I also don't like the big bright yellow logo on the leg, but that's just me.


The manual that I received with my Hot Pants states that results will be seen if worn consistently after 4-6 weeks but then also states that in tests, 2 jeans sizes were lost in 2 weeks after sampling 20 women. It doesn't really give instructions as to how long each day they should be worn, although it does state that best results will be achieved when worn during a workout. 


I am planning on giving my Hot Pants another try, although I am still uncomfortable wearing them in the XL size and I'm not sure I can wear them for a longer duration because of the odor, but I will give it a go. One thing that I did like about them is that they seemed to help my fibromyalgia pain when wearing them while exercising because of the heat they produced. I also felt as if I were getting a better workout.


I will post my update in several more weeks! Until then, if you'd like to try the Hot Pants for yourself, they retail for $70.77 and are available in sizes S, M, L, & XL. They have a size conversion chart on their website and they deliver world wide. 


Hot Pants can be found on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, so check them out and see what others are saying about their own experience with Hot Pants!


*Disclosure: I received free product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.





December Gift Card Gala Giveaway - Ends 12/16

Welcome to the 3rd Gift Card Gala sponsored by Debbie Does Coupons and 27 other great bloggers, bringing you a chance to win an assortment of Gift Cards!

This event starts at Midnight EST on 12/9 and ends at Midnight EST 12/16

Each blogger is offering a Store or Restaurant Gift Card with a value of at least $10 ! Some may be more.

If you are a winner, you will be emailed by the owner of the blog that you won on and asked for your mailing address. You will have 48 hours to respond, so make sure to give an email address that you check daily.

Simply click to "like" each of the Facebook pages on the Rafflecopter and then click the green "I did this" button.

Extra Entries at the Bottom will have their point Value listed


RULES:

There will be one winner per blog. All winners will be picked by December 18th. Winners will be contacted via email within 24 hours by the blog owners where they won. The winner has 48 hours to contact the blogger back with your mailing address.

Good luck to everyone!!




Pitsco Medieval Machines Catapult & Trebuchet Kit Review










Founded  in 1971, Pitsco Education now provides hands-on education in science, technology, engineering, math and more to over seven million students a year. From curriculum, to assessments, to science kits,  Pitsco's products will engage and inspire your student. 

TOS Crew members received the Medieval Machines Pack, which retails for $21.95 and includes the following:
Trebuchet Kit
Catapult Kit
Mass Plates
Siege Machines Book

We also received an extra package of Klean Klay to use as well, which was a nice surprise.

Both machines are on one sheet of good quality Balsa wood and must be punched out. My twins were so excited about receiving this that they dove right into it without really reading any directions, punched all of the pieces out, and put them in a pile, so we had to separate them. My son constructed the trebuchet and my daughter assembled the catapult. The trebuchet took a bit longer to put together because it required more measuring and gluing than the catapult. We emailed the company because we weren't sure exactly what kind of glue to use and we were instructed to use any super glue type glue. They were very prompt in emailing us back! We tried the super glue but the pieces weren't holding so we ended up using Gorilla wood glue which worked great for us. Tools required for this kit are sandpaper, scissors, hobby knife, needle-nose pliers, and a ruler. 
Our kit with extra clay.

My son putting together the trebuchet.






Getting ready to test the trebuchet.




The finished catapult.



My daughter loves Science and all things medieval so this was  perfect for her. She experimented with the catapult with different sizes and weights of clay projectiles for about an hour as soon as the glue had dried, and recorded her observations.  Both machines were assembled by the kids themselves with minimal help from us. I think the only thing my husband did was to help my son cut a couple of notches in the trebuchet. These are great educational tools and I can foresee many more experiments with them in our future! 


For other fun and educational kits, visit Pitsco Education online to see all that they have to offer. They have a great selection in all price ranges!


See them both in action:

video



video







Read other TOS Crew reviews HERE.


*Disclosure: I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

December Gift Card Gala Coming Soon!

Artistic Pursuits Review


For the past several weeks, I have been reviewing a wonderful art curriculum published by Artistic Pursuits, written by Brenda Ellis. Although they carry books for preschool to 12th grade, I requested to review The Way They SEE It for ages 3,4,5 (preschool). 


I have been using this with my son, who is almost 4, and it is because of this book that he is learning about artists such as Monet, Degas, Attwell, and more. Honestly, I never thought to introduce such works to a 3 year old but I have discovered that looking at the pictures of their paintings is my son's favorite part of the book. Don't get me wrong, he enjoys the finger painting, cutting and other activities immensely.  He just seems to come alive when he looks at the fine art and becomes very animated when talking about what he is seeing. I thought perhaps he was too little, but I'm thinking maybe a trip to the art museum might be in order.


We are still working our way through the book, but here are a couple of the projects my son made. The first one is the Mark-making Project which involved a lot of finger paint. I thought my son would shy away from this because he really doesn't like gooey messes, but he actually drew with his finger in the paint for about 1/2 hour, which really surprised me.




The 2nd picture is the Puppet Project. My son loves using scissors, and diligently cut each piece for his monster puppet and when he needed help gluing each piece, I was instructed just where everything was to go. Precisely! 


Oops. Sorry it's sideways. 


The Way They SEE It is 87 pages bound with plastic comb binding with the front and back covers being laminated. There are 32 projects for the child, all which encourage the student to be creative and to help them learn how to gain skills on their own. The lessons encourage the use of fine motor skills and sharper thinking skills and also help us as parents and teachers see our child's art better, through their eyes.


One of the things I really appreciated about this company was that prior to even receiving the book to review, I received correspondence from them that included a list of supplies I would need to have on hand for the projects included in the book. Being a homeschooling family for the past 11 years, we did already have a lot of it on hand, but there were some things that I needed to buy. I think most of us at some point have been in the middle of a project, only to find we were out of an essential item needed in order to complete our masterpiece, so this was very much appreciated! 


I found the "Grown-UP Talk" sections helpful in that they made me more aware of why my child chose the approach that he did and helped me to understand how it correlated with his artistic development. There are also tips throughout the book to aid in teaching art to young children.




The Way They SEE It is available for purchase online for $42.95. For purchasing & payment options, please click HERE


Please click HERE for a list of other curriculum available
such as:


Junior High Book Two

and
Grades K-3 Book Two
and more!



Click HERE to read what other TOS Crew members thought of Artistic Pursuits.


*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book at no charge for review purposes. All opinions stated are my own. No other compensation was received.