K’nex, Lincoln Logs, & Little Pieces Oh My!

As a little kid growing up I loved Lincoln Logs and building all sorts of houses, barns, and anything that my imagination could come up with. Especially if my Barbie’s could fit in it!

What I love about Lincoln Logs and K’nex is that they both require you to really think and figure things out. How the pieces fit together best, how to get the building or car built the way you want, and how to get them all to work together the right way.

Lincoln Logs

I will say that I had to follow the instructions that came with the Lincoln Logs to get the ranch to look exactly like the picture… which is exactly what my son wanted. But in no time we had a ranch and the horse and cowboy were ready for a hard day work rearranging the yard that I just set up for them.

 This set includes 124 real wood logs, plastic windows, a door, roof, and a horse and cowboy. It’s recommended for ages 3 and up but my 3 year old still needed a little help getting things to work the way he wanted.

Now the K’nex are a totally different story!

The first set that my husband set out to put together was the Typhoon Frenzy Roller Coaster Building Set and let me tell you… it came with a multiple page manual on how to put it together. With over 640 pieces to the set this was a challenge to put together and he worked on it for just over 3 hours from start to finish. It’s recommended for ages 9+ and I can understand why and would suggest that it might be better for an even older kid.

Once it was put together and running my 3 year old and his 11 year old sister LOVED playing with it!

K'Nex

I’ll also say that the majority of those 640 pieces are pretty darn small so in order to not lose them I suggest sorting them into a couple bowls or something similar.

The 521 Piece Value Tub was loaded with everything that you need to build cars, motorcycles, giant flowers, stick people, and pretty much whatever you can imagine. This one is recommended for ages 7+ and was a lot easier for my 3 year old to play with because he could quickly connect the pieces on his own and still have fun. Definitely not something that he should be playing with alone though.

I can’t imagine any boy (or girl) who wouldn’t love to find one of these under the tree on Christmas morning. They’re great for imagination building and hands on play.

All of these toys are available at Toys R’ Us. For more fun check out K’Nex on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and You Tube.

Through the Toys “R” Us® Mom Blogger Promotion I was sent, Lincoln Logs® Redfield Ranch Set and K’nex to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A new way to peruse the magazines with issuu

I was selected for this opportunity as part of the Girls’ Lunch Out network. All views expressed are entirely my own, and were not influenced or directed by either Girls’ Lunch Out or Issuu.

If you haven’t figured it out yet I love cooking and baking. If you weren’t sure take a peak at the incredible Fall Favorites series that I’ve been running for the past month or even my weekly Monday Menu. It’s not just writing about food or making food that I like, but it’s always buying fun cookbooks to flip through and drool over the amazing recipes and beautiful pictures. And then there is my guilty pleasure…. magazines. Cooking & baking magazines fill the shelves and change every month so there is always something new for me to try out but as you might guess those can get pretty expensive after a while.

I’ve found a way to help with my food magazine obsession… issuu. And after reading it a few times it started to recommend articles and magazines to me based on what I’ve been reading.

issuu_logo

Because food is one of my passions I found magazine after magazine to browse and my all time favorite was this one….

A week of Chai? Yes, please! I am not a coffee lover at all, but Chai tea is perfect! From traditional Chai, to Chai truffels, and hot chocolate Chai I’m trying to figure out how to print this baby out and keep it forever!

So what exactly is issuu? Well, it’s like Pinterest for magazines – so cool!

Serving over 7 billion page views across 15 million publications to more that 80 million unique monthly visitors, Issuu is the fastest-growing digital publishing platform in the world and is rapidly becoming the place readers go to discover new content and publishers use to find a worldwide audience. Publishers can use the Issuu platform to upload visually rich content, and gain granular insight on reader characteristics and preferences and access to new business models.

Best of all is that it’s free!

Super Cool Features:

  • Detailed stats and analytics.
  • Timed launch/postponed publishing date.
  • Share to facebook, twitter and all major social sites.
  • All major document formats supported including PDF.
  • Embed widget, lets you embed great magazines right on your site.
  • Publications stored in their original format.
  • Up to 500 pages per publication.
  • Audio supported. Strike the right tone.
  • Robust SEO.
  • Industry leading Kbyte footprint.
  • Support and help center. Real-human support.
  • Javascript API and Search API for advanced site integration.

You’ll want to check issuu out for yourself, right?

Look ‘em up on the usual places like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and of course their site.

Holiday Shopping – Choosing Between a Notebook and a Tablet

With holiday shopping having started so early this year many people are scouring the internet for some of the best deal on electronics, games, all sorts of toys and my guess is that many of them will buying them on Cyber Monday.

Choosing Between a Notebook and a Tablet

lenovo-laptop-convertible-yoga-2-pro-orange-tablet-mode-13

There is no denying that technology is a wonderful thing. You can now keep in touch with friends and family while traveling, do some work during your daily commute, watch your favorite TV shows on your mobile phone, and even do your weekly shopping without needing to leave the couch.

Technology is all about convenience. You may remember when the first laptops appeared on the market, transforming personal computing and allowing people to be much more mobile. Over time, and as per consumer demand, laptops became more compact and lighter, and just when you thought you had seen everything, tablets made their grand entrance.

According to the latest data, more than 190 million tablets will be sold during 2013. Tablet specifications are now at pretty much the same level of the best lightweight notebook computer, so it is not surprising that they are as popular as the best-selling Acer laptops. If you are having trouble deciding between a laptop and tablet, keep in mind the following considerations.

Benefits of owning a laptop

Traditionally, laptops have been considered work tools. Laptops have higher storage capacities than tablets, so if you use your computer daily and need to store large amounts of files, a laptop might be right for you. Because of their design, laptops are also sturdier than tablets, so they are a good choice for business people who are always on the move. Students may also benefit from having a laptop rather than a tablet, as it is much easier to switch between screens when doing research and to type your assignments on a laptop. A laptop might also be the best choice for professionals who work with images or specific software, such as graphic designers or architects.

Who should buy a tablet?

tablets

The main thing to bear in mind is that tablets are not intended to replace laptops. They are designed for different purposes and are ideal for people that need to be extremely mobile. Generally speaking, tablets are mostly created for recreational use, you may want to buy a tablet if you are going on holiday and need internet access on a lightweight device where you can read books, play your favorite games, or watch movies. However, keep in mind that the performance and processing power of tablets is limited, so if you are a hardcore gamer, you are better off buying a laptop.

Are you looking for a laptop, tablet or full size computer this year for someone on your list? How will you decide which one to get?

Special thanks to Elma Humpries for guest posting for me today while I recover from my turkey & sugar coma at work. 

iDeaPlay Tablet – Fun & Educational Tablet for the Holidays!

I love my Kindle. I love my iPhone. I love my iPad. Sadly the kids all love them too, but my devices are not made to take the beating that kids tend to dole out and not only that they’re set up for me and not kids. It’s amazing the things that a kid can find on YouTube or just the internet alone when left to wander aimlessly around.

iDeaPlay

With all of the tablets out on the market there are only a few that are really focused on kids and their needs. When I was given the opportunity to take a look at this new tablet I jumped at the chance and I have to say that I was not disappointed at all.

iDeaPlay Tablet

Features

  • COPPA compliant – The iDeaPlay is programmed to abide by the U.S. government’s Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act. This ensures the safety and privacy of kids under 13 years old.
  • Educational – As a parent you can easily configure the content to help your kids learn in a fun and engaging way. They’ll never realize that they’re learning!
  • Durable – The table includes a sturdy case to help protect it against rough play and helps kids keep a better grip on it.
  • Famigo – This app creates a safer, fun mobile environment for your kids! It includes content from some of the most popular kids characters like Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Jim Henson’s Sid the Science Kid, and more.
  • Apps – Kids and parents can safely download apps for free or for a cost from the iDeaPlay marketplace or by going to Amazon.
  • Separate viewing mode for younger users
  • Kids can build a wish list of apps that they want, but can’t make purchases.

Parental Controls

  • Gain full control over which apps and content your children can view.
  • Parents can set a time limit on kid’s play time.
  • Receive email notifications with lists of new, desired apps from your children.
  • Turn off Parental Controls and the iDeaPLAY becomes a simple 7 in. tablet.
  • Weekly email report of your kids activity

What is Included:

  • iDeaPLAY tablet
  • Orange Protective Bumper Cover
  • Rechargeable Battery
  • In-Ear Headphones
  • USB Cable
  • Power Adapter
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Preloaded with Doodle Jump, Shrek Forever, My First Zoo Kids ABC Alphabets, Color & Draw Math Bugaboo.

This tablet has tons of features that will keep your kids as well as you entertained for hours! I was able to easily download Netflix and a couple other apps that are my favorites as well ones that my tween daughter likes.

If you’re wondering…. Yes, I would definitely recommend this tablet if you are looking for one for your kid for Christmas.

Couple of things though. It did take me a few minutes to figure how to turn it on (then I realized it needed to be charged first) and weak battery about 3.5-4hrs of moderate usage. Like any new device though you just need to get used to it, how it works, and the interface.

I found it very easy to play the games that were included, search the store for more games for my kids, and get them installed.

Normally priced at $129 the iDeaPlay kids tablet will be on sale for only $99 on Black Friday at Amazon.com!! By entering the promo code ‘ideaplay’ at checkout, you will save $30 when purchasing the safest and most versatile Android kids tablet on the market!

iDeaPlay bumpers

Also, you can now personalize your iDeaPLAY tablet with new protective bumpers in blue, green, pink, or purple instead of the typical orange that it comes with. These are also on sale now at Amazon.com.

Check out the iDeaPlay website, and of course keep you with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I was given an iDeaPlay tablet to for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

GoWallet Review – Get those gift cards organized!

So with the holidays coming up we all need a way to keep those gift cards that we are given organized as well a better way to figure out what the balance is, right? I know that trying to figure out the balance is always a challenge and I usually end up keeping the most receipt wrapped around the gift card. Honestly, that is not the most effective manner of keeping track.

I’ve found one of the best ways to keep track now. GoWallet!

Go Wallet

GoWallet is an app for your iPhone or Android where gift cards can be registered, allowing you to:

  • Easily manage multiple cards in one place
  • Access real-time gift card balances for supported gift cards
  • Conveniently access your gift card information on the go
  • Receive promotional offers
  • Purchase gift cards

This app has made it so easy for me lately for the few gift cards that I do have that I can’t wait to add more to it during the holidays! The first thing that you need to do after downloading the app is to create an account and then start adding your gift cards to the app by scanning the card or inputting it manually. Really it takes just a few minutes to do it manually and you can update it easily after that.

Go Wallet  Go Wallet
Once you have it all set up you you can start shopping! For most of the stores you don’t even need the actual card… but don’t get rid of them since there are some that do require it. As you use the card you can update the value of the card too by simple pressing the arrows in a circle icon.

Go Wallet

The GoWallet app will tell you how many cards you have, the balance of the cards, and a total of all of them combined.

Go Wallet

GoWallet has the added feature of allowing you to buy gift cards from major retailers, restaurants, and other service providers right through the app. When you purchase one you can either add it to your GoWallet account, email it to a friend, or send it to someone via Facebook. Sending gift cards to friends and family across the country or world just got a whole lot easier!

Tell me…. how do you keep track of all the gift cards that you and your family gets at the holiday?

Disclosure: I was provided a gift card in return for my review of the app. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Better than window shopping!

I love shopping and finding great deals but I have found something that is better than window shopping! Have you heard of Modnique? It’s a deal website that offers some incredible brands like Chanel, Tory Burch, Hermes, and so many more up scale brands. You know… the brands that we window shop for because the price tags are usually high.

modnique

With Modnique the prices are up to 85% off and new merchandise arrives daily and is featured in 36-72 hour events. Right now they’re having a great promotion going on… 20 Days of Deals! These items go super fast too! I was stalking an iPad mini going for $99 and wasn’t able to grab one. :( The new deals are revealed at 6am PST every day and you can keep track of the new deals by checking out their blog or Facebook page daily.

I have spent a great deal of time on the site looking for some Christmas gifts but then I was sidetracked and found myself with half a dozen tabs open of things that I wanted for myself!

Like this coat…

modnique coat

Or these two things…

Modnique perfume Modnique necklace
 The prices on all of these are really affordable too! The Burberry perfume is only $29 after a 60% discount!.Well, maybe the necklace is still pretty expensive (only $1889 after a 54% discount) but it is gorgeous, isn’t it?

I will say that finding the right item can be like a little treasure hunt. Sometimes the item you want is already in someones basket or they don’t have it in your size, but with the variety that they have I’m sure that it won’t take you long to find something that you absolutely love. This is how it works; you pick something that you want, click to add it to your cart, and then you have a limited time to purchase it or it goes back on the virtual sales floor, giving some one else the chance to buy it.  You get a little countdown clock to help you keep track which makes it easy for you.

So if you can’t find me today it’s because I’m doing a little window shopping for things that I don’t really need but really, really want! Like the blue boots that I found by Marc Jacobs…. or the Hermes shoulder bag.

This review is part of a Splash Creative Media campaign on behalf of Modnique.com and I have received a gift certificate for the purposes of this review. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

 

Microsoft 365 Review & Giveaway #GetItDone

With the holidays fast approaching getting things done and keep up with blogging can become a challenge. But I think that I might have a way to keep organized, make notes, and write blog posts on the go no matter which computer or device I’m using. Are you intrigued?

With Office 365 I can write a start a blog post on my phone while driving to to and fro (not me driving… that’d be unsafe!) and when I get home finish up on my computer (either the Mac or Windows computer). Once I have it all edited I can toss it into WordPress and be on my way to the next event… or bed… or work.

Or with One Note I can collaborate with my sister in Virginia on the menu for our family Thanksgiving this year. As well as make plans for our Black Friday shopping… where to shop, what we need, and of course mapping out all the coffee shops for my sister. Honestly, I don’t think that there isn’t much that we won’t be able to do with Office 365 to help us get through the holidays this year.

Office 365 lets you work while on the go. No matter where you are and when you save something to the cloud on your Sky Drive you can then access it on any device that you have Office 365 installed on. Life just got easier too, because with one subscription you can put Office on up to five PCs or Macs and five phones (iPhone or Android)!

I was a little sad when I saw that they didn’t have an app for my iPad but I have hope that they will soon.

 
This is especially useful since the 9 to 5 has blurred and today people need modern technology to find balance. From the home to the office, and especially on the go, people all around the world are working differently than the past. Even where I work more and more people are starting to work remotely and still collaborate on projects.

I find myself working on various documents, checking email, and making notes no matter what time of the day it is. Especially in the evening after the kids have gone off to bed for the night and it’s quiet. That’s when I can really make some progress!

Office365

Now for the giveaway part!

One winner will win a one-year subscription (US $99.99 value) of Office 365 Home Premium. Sorry… US readers only. Just use the Raffelcopter form below to enter.

Don’t forget the #GetItDone contest on Facebook where you can enter for the chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip of a lifetime. Show Microsoft how you #GetItDone. You and a friend could win a trip to some of the most happening events anywhere. Get it done alongside the most accomplished athletes, filmmakers and musicians around—on a trip to NYC, a journey to Park City, Utah, or a musical voyage to Austin, Texas.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I participated in the Microsoft Office 365 campaign on behalf of One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own. 

Get your Disney Classics soon!!

This past spring we took a trip down to Orlando and spent some quality time at the Disney Parks. It was another truly magical trip to Disney… there really is nothing that I don’t like about the Magic Kingdom. Wait, that’s a lie. I don’t like all of the huge crowds. Even with the crowds and people milling about everywhere there is a way to see and do just about everything.

 

Disney Logo

Part of the magic of Disney is the music. Every where you go there is classic Disney music playing through well hidden speakers…. seriously, I have never been able to actually spot one. Each area had music playing that went along with the theme too!

To relive our favorite movies and time spent at Disney we’ve been listening to the new Walt Disney Classics. The box set includes 4 discs of 94 original recordings from Disney Modern Classics, Disney Theme Park Classics, Disney Timeless Classics, and Disney Television Classics

The box set is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com and available on the official release date, November 12th. It is also available for purchase in the Disney parks just in case you’re there. It’s the perfect gift for the Disney fan in your life too!

Disney Box Set

There is special bonus for those who buy the box set too! There is a new medley of Disney hits by YouTube a capella sensations Peter Hollens and Alex G. Peter and Alex create fully orchestrated songs using only the sounds of their voices.

Pretty awesome… right?

Disclosure: I am participating in a blog post campaign from One2One Network and Walt Disney Records. All opinions are my own.

CTC Online Math Tutoring – Review

Math was never my strong suit when I was in school and the only way to get some extra help was to sign up for tutoring. Traditional tutoring was usually after school once or twice a week and last an hour or so… nothing spectacular really. If you were lucky you got a great tutor that was able to finally break through to you and you’d figure it out or not so lucky and you still couldn’t figure it out after hours.

Now, there are more options than ever with the internet! I recently had the opportunity to try out CTC Math and see how it worked with my kids.

CTC Math

So what is CTC math? 

CTC Math is an online-based math tutoring program that is available for the just one student or the entire family. They have unlimited access to all lessons across all grade levels. With the program you can learn at your own pace with the ability to stop and rewind the lesson so there is a better understanding of the material. There are over 1400 tutorials each lasting 4 – 9 minutes with combined audio and visual to help instill the lesson being taught. After each tutorial there are interactive questions or an optional printable worksheet which tests the understanding of key concepts. Once all the questions have been answered the system stores the results for a report.


CTC Math Summary Report CTC Math Detailed Report
 Aside from being able to log into the site and check the progress of my child they also email you each week to let you know exactly how your child is doing. The report helps you figure out where the child is struggling or excelling and if they need extra help somewhere.

Our thoughts

My youngest daughter used it the most and immediately loved it. The way that the lessons were presented allowed her to fully understand and grasp the concepts pretty quickly. After working with it for 30 minutes she was excited that she had finally figured something out that had been stumping her for a while and with immediate feedback on what her score is she knows whether she really “got it” or not and she can try again if she wants.

My older two also gave it a try too. My oldest, Caitlin, is beyond the highest level that they offer (trig) but still went through some of the tutorials and she also thought that it was well laid out and if she needed the help that it would be perfect.

Natalie gave it a shot too and felt the same as her other sisters but didn’t play around with it as much as I would have liked. I think that if she had tried a few of the tutorials that were above her level she would have been able to pick up those concepts pretty easily.

Aside from the tutorial benefit of CTC math I think that it would be perfect for keeping up over the long summer vacation, getting a little ahead, or even used for homeschooling.

Getting that little boost in math can really do a lot for a child aside from raising their math grade. It can help boost their confidence, understanding of math, and the incentive to keep trying when it comes to math and their education.

Try it!

If you’re interested in the program you can try their free trial. You can also sign up for a single student or family plan at monthly, 6 month, or 12 month rates.

Disclosure: CTC Math was provided to me to try out and review. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

The Invisible Girls Book Review

This is one of those books that once you start you simply can’t put it down. It pulls you in and tugs on your heart and emotions so strongly that you have to know what happens next.

Invisible Girls

The Invisible Girls – A Memoir by Sarah Thebarge is the story of Sarah as she is diagnosed with rather aggressive breast cancer in her 20’s. She is excelling in life with a loving boyfriend, has an Ivy League education that she worked very hard to achieve, and a successful career when she is told that she had breast cancer.

Having been raised in as the pastors daughter in a fundamental Christian home, Sarah believed that God was angry with her for something that she had done in her life. But she could never figure it out.  She struggled with her faith throughout the book as she battled cancer and eventually came back to it.

All through out the book you learn more and more about Sarah and how incredible brave she is, how much she endured, and how the human spirit when beaten down can make a miraculous recovery. It was a very inspiring story to say the least.

After she is well again Sarah decided to make a clean start, far from everything that her life was. She packed up and moved to Portland, Oregon… as far away as she could get. It was there by chance, on a bus, that she met a family of refugees from Somalia. Hadhi, a Somali refugee abandoned by her husband, was struggling to raise five young daughters alone in a culture she didn’t understand. She and her daughters, Fahri, Abdallah, Sadaka, Lelo, and Chaki, became very close with Sarah.

It was Sarah who helped the family get food, proper clothing, heat, and other basic necessities that we take for granted. Through helping Hadhi and her daughters Sarah was able to begin her own healing process and really start her life again.

The more memoirs that I read I find myself really enjoying them. They’re full of life that is so very real, they’re heartbreaking, inspiring, and tell the journey of someone very real…. someone that you could pass walking down the sidewalk one day.

You can check The Invisible Girls on Amazon and Sarah on her personal website.

Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Jericho Books. I received a product sample to facilitate my review.