Category - School Kids

Fun Stocking Stuffers – Christmas Coupons

Christmas

ChristmasDaddyB and I don’t normally buy a lot for each other when Christmas comes around. In fact, we will usually pick one item both of us could use and buy a joint gift for each other. We were considering a car-top carrier because of all of our trips, in the past we’ve bought theme park season passes, and this year we decided on a Keurig brand coffee maker.

I do like to get him presents from the girls though, it not only is exciting for our girls to shop for daddy, but again teaches them that we are supposed to give to others on Christmas. They love their daddy so much that asking them to help was a guaranteed, “YES!!”

I have bought a few things here and there, trying to be creative. I wanted to add one more stocking stuffer for him {hoping that he doesn’t read this, or if he does that he pretends that he didn’t.} When I was a child I remember making coupon books as gifts for my mom. I loved doing this and I think my mom liked it too, I’m sure some of you have also done this and it’s super simple. Lucky for me since my, “proverbial plate” is full.

Miss A and I sat down and brainstormed what would be fun to coupon to daddy. We mostly thought of “things that you can’t hold in your hands,” – this was the easiest way I could describe intangible gifts to her. Then, I used Picnik.com {my favorite photo editing program} and “jazzed” up the girls Christmas pictures, and switched over to paint.net {a free “paint” program.} I added some text in a fun font and put our unique gift ideas on the tags, and here’s what we came up with:

coup5

coup8

With a few easy, free programs, some cute photos, and a little bit of time on the computer you can make these for your favorite recipient this Christmas. They can “cash-in” the coupons whenever they want, or keep for sentimental reasons. Enjoy!!!

Have you made coupon books before? What is your favorite coupon for?

Bonding with Board Games

Board Game

Board Game

I grew up in a household where we regularly played board games, if I listed them all we would be here forever, but my favorites were classic games, I even was in a chess class through the YMCA.  When I left home to go to college, nanny, meet my future husband and get married, I took “game night” with me and we would regularly host fun games on nights with our friends and spend countless hours enjoying each other’s company, competing, and catching up on what was going on in our daily lives.

Now that I have my own little play mates, {let’s face it, one of the primary reasons I had kids was to have someone to play with all day long,} I get to play board games with them too. Miss A LOVES playing board games. Most of the time we play when Baby C is napping because of smaller pieces, so it gives us some good, quality, bonding time. We could play for hours, we get silly, have fun, and she’s really a good sport when I’m constantly losing {and when I’m winning too}. 

I am a huge believer of starting children young at anything you hope they will continue in the future. I have been “doing” their hair from a young age because with all the curls of their biracial hair I knew that I would have to continue this practice. DaddyB and I are instilling in them the importance of giving to others, whether it is physical items, money, or time and hard work we want them to grow up having a servant heart. Valuing family time and quality time with the people who you love is also another trait that we want to encourage. Through game nights, sitting down with the whole family with no distractions, we feel that we are teaching them how important it is to grow as a family and spend time together. God has given us these little girls as our responsibility to train up and teaching them key values in life in a big part of that. 

Do you feel the same way? 

If board games are a part of your family bonding experience here’s your chance to win some goodies. Did you know that the LEGO® company makes games? If not, you do now! LEGO® is going to give away 5 prize packs featuring: 3 LEGO Games, a $30 iTunes gift card and a copy of Gourmet Game Night for responding to this post. So make sure you leave a comment for your chance to win.

 

How are board games a bonding experience for your family? Reply for a chance to win one of five ultimate LEGO® Games prize packs!!

 

LEGO® Games are the world’s first collection of board games that can be built, played and changed, that delivers a whole new way for families to have fun together the LEGO way.  Whether challenging friends or family to a LEGO Game in a variety of themes and types – guessing, strategy, memory, logic and chance – no two LEGO Games experiences are ever the same! 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of LEGOSystems. The opinions expressed by me do not necessarily reflect the view of the LEGO Brand.  Official Contest Rules

Little Miss Matched – Fun Clothes for Girls

Little Miss Matched

Little Miss MatchedIn case you’re still looking for stocking stuffers, or really cute presents any time of year, and have a little girl, I highly recommend Little Miss Matched. I recently stumbled upon Little Miss Matched, although I have friends who have known about them for a while.

As I was looking through their website I found some really cute items and thought they would be great for Miss A. They have fun, quirky styles for girls of all ages. Through my searching I also found out that their sock line, which is probably their most popular item, carries socks for babies age 6 months and up, toddlers, girls, women, and even men! Now DaddyB is pretty conservative with his socks so I’m not sure that he’d wear them, but I know my younger sister who is 14 would LOVE some of their styles. I think their city-scape socks are pretty cool.

Whether you’re looking for fun accessories, sock bundles, or even cute clothes I suggest you check out Little Miss Matched, Miss A LOVES her socks, I think mostly because she can express herself even though she is required to wear a uniform to Preschool, and I love it because I don’t have to worry about matching socks when I’m folding laundry!

Little Miss Matched

How much fun right?!?! If you want to check them out head over to Little Miss Matched’s website: http://www.littlemissmatched.com/ and check out their last minute gift ideas and great shipping choices!!

I was able to try out some Little Miss Matched products in order to give my honest thoughts on their products. I was in no way swayed by the company and all the above words and opinions are my own. Your opinions may vary. 

The Elf on the Shelf – Creepy Spy or Santa’s Helper?

Elf on the Shelf Twine

Every year at Christmas Santa sends his elves to watch you,
and they go back and tell him who’s been bad and who’s been good.
The Elf on the Shelf is watching you, what you say, what you do.
The Elf on the Shelf is watching you, each and every Christmas.

Elf On the Shelf

Image courtesy of angryjuliemonday via Creative Commons

This little guy (or sometimes girl) is the culprit of much controversy this year. The Elf on the Shelf, in case you haven’t heard of him, is a elf themed doll that one can purchase in stores. It comes with a book and basically the story is that the elf is magical, he comes to your home each Christmas, watches how your children behave and reports to Santa his findings. If your child touches him the magic is lost and he won’t be able to go to the North Pole.

Since The Elf on the Shelf was created in 2005 parents have been buying them up like crazy and doing all sorts of things with their elves. Some parents set up elaborate staging, like this little guy named Albert, from Stacy of She’s {kinda} Crafty:

Elf on the Shelf Twine

While some parents forget or don’t bother to move their elves some parents go all out. They name their elf and take their job at moving these guys around very serious. And although these little North Poleians seem cute and harmless are they really?

Some parents like myself express concern when it comes to the newest holiday rage sweeping the country. Many are concerned about the creepiness of the whole story. Some don’t want to bother with, “yet another lie” we have to tell our children. Others don’t want to take the time since Christmas is already a busy enough holiday. And then there are those of us who would rather focus on the “reason for the season” sorry to be a little cliché. If your Christmas is Santa Light* like we consider ours then adding The Elf on the Shelf just wouldn’t make sense anyway.

When Miss A was about 3 years old I had heard about The Elf on the Shelf from one of my girlfriends and thought it was a cute idea at the time when we were still figuring out how we wanted to create our own traditions. I remember checking out the book at Barnes and Noble and thinking it was way too long of a story for Miss A to be interested so I opted out.

Personally I am not a fan of The Elf on the Shelf for many of the above reasons, mainly because it does not fit into our Advent/Faith focused Christmas. I like to explore all sides of the Elf on the Shelf thought bank and here is what some of my friends and readers have to say about this phenomenon. Would love to hear how you relate as well.

“I have mixed feelings about the Elf (our girls have named him Sparky). We don’t really resort to it to instill good behavior with the kids, because I believe they should be behaving just because that’s what they’re supposed to do, not for a reward (gifts from Santa, etc.). With us it’s more of a game of just seeing where he appears each morning, in what silly position, etc. We never used the “Sparky’s watching!” or anything…The girls simply have more fun imagining that he has moved slightly from one minute to the next.” – Leslie P. from Cheektowaga, NY

Those things are creepy and I don’t need an elf to spy for me. I do just fine on my own. And what happens the rest of the year when the elf goes home? – Kadi P.

Bumblebee

Lanai N.'s Elf "Bumblebee" taking a bubble bath

I love the Elf on the Shelf because I get to see the excited on my kids face every morning when they go looking for him. – Lanai N. – Denver, NC.

When we cleaned out the garage, I found a big Christmas gift bag full of spider webs. In it was an Elf on a Shelf that I had gotten years ago from a friend. That thing scared me. I thought it was a piece of junk and never used it. It’s now donated. – Connie R.

I feel like I am the only one not doing it – they are all over pinterest and instagram. Philosophically, I’m not crazy about it. On many levels. No judgements for those who do it! Just not for me. – Kristen H.

They are vintage & kinda creepy looking, but the story behind the creation is a great one. The mother & daughter creators are great people & friends of one of our artists so that made me curious. My 9, 12 & 14 yo are much too old to believe, but my 9 yo is sure having fun surprising us with her elf’s antics every morning. We’ll be interviewing the creators in February & I’m truly excited to hear all about their success story. – Jennifer T.

At Christmastime, we make it very clear that Santa is a fun, pretend person (just like Ninja Turtles or Imagination Movers) so we allow our kids to “pretend’ Santa on a small scale while at the same time constantly talking about the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus. We spend time caring for others, giving gifts out of our abundance, caroling, celebrating Advent – the countdown toward Jesus’ birth, etc. Elf on the Shelf is tradition that we’ve started just for the fun of it. We don’t put a lot of stock in the idea that the Elf is reporting behavior back to Santa. But the boys LOVE searching for him every morning. (His name is Secret Agent Acorn Bubba-Louie…crazy name, I know, long story…) – Kiley F. Rochester, NY

My mother works in a Christmas Shop so our Elf is very seasoned. I was enthusiastic and thought it was a cute idea but as the years have passed my mind has changed. I enjoy pretending but I despise lying. I feel, even though Elf on the Shelf is festive, it is one more thing to worry about during and already busy season and one more reason to lie to my kids daily. – Elizabeth N.

I’m Jewish but we have an elf. Guess you could say I’m a bad jew. But it is a great way to remind the kids to behave during the holidays. And it’s fun to wake up each morning and watch them hunt for Earl. – Becca B. Charlotte, NC.

I don’t have one, just recently learned of the story. While I think in concept it seems innocent and quaint, I think Elf needs a makeover. His face simply reminds me more of a horror flick character than a sweet holiday tradition doll. I’d imagine seeing that face pop up in different spots of the house, esp. at night, might give us nightmares when Sugar plums should be dancing in our heads. – Rajean B.

In the past month this perfect complexion, highly fit über flexible and above all mute elf has brought peace to my household. Bedtime is never a challenge, bath time is like going to the playground and dinner is always like a basket of sweets for my daughter. I have never once thought of it as lying as just like millions of families all over the world my child believes in Santa Claus. If telling my daughter that some little doll has the ability to talk to Santa then i will need to find a way to write Rudolph Frosty the Easter bunny and the muppets out the script. – Christopher W. Charlotte, NC.

Barnaby Elf on the Shelf

Kelley C.'s Elf Barnaby giving a few pre-Christmas gifts for good behavior

We are just very “Santa Light” in our house focusing on advent and things that I don’t have to manipulate on a daily basis. – Valerie R.

I loved the idea of having to find him each day. But when I learned the story that the elf is a spy and ‘watching’ you it creeped me out. I also don’t care for the doll. We’ll focus on other traditions in my house.Andrea U.

I think we are going to be a Santa light family, so no elf for us. He totally gives me the heeby jeebies anyway. But I do have friend who has very spirited children and it works for them as far as helping with behavior. – Erin L. 

I heard that the elf watches whatever your child is doing. That would freak me out. Faith G.

This is the first year I tried it. The boys like looking for him (when I remember to move him) but it does jack squat on improving their behavior. – Emily V.

 

So there you have it, both sides of The Elf on the Shelf coin. What are your two cents?  

Thanks to everyone who gave me a quote, I loved your willingness to be referenced on my site.

Do you own an Elf on the Shelf?

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Just Dance Video Games by Ubisoft for Me and Them

I love dancing. I used to go out dancing when I was in college and when DaddyB and I were dating we often went out dancing. Now that I am a mommy my nights out are usually game nights or spent going to a restaurant. I have considered taking dance classes for fun and exercise, but again finding time in my hectic schedule for an additional activity is just plain hard.

Both of my girls, Miss A, who is 4 and a half {as she would proudly exclaim}, and Baby C who is now 20 months old LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to dance. Seriously they do all sorts of styles anywhere, in the tub, in the kitchen, on their beds/cribs, on mommy’s back, so much so that I often will have to ask them to take a break so they don’t choke-break-something-break-someone-get-dizzy-and-so-on.

Ubisoft Logo

I have found the perfect game(s) though. Thanks to Ubisoft we can have our cake and eat it too with Just Dance 3 and Just Dance Kids 2. Personally I think these are amazing gifts for anyone who likes to dance, young, or not so young. If you haven’t picked up a copy or sent yours yet it makes a great Christmas present or even upcoming birthday presents too, and if you like to dance it’ll give you and the recipient a good excuse to play together.

Just Dance 3What I like about Just Dance 3 on Nintendo Wii:

[checklist]

  • Variety – 45+ songs by various artists and several different play modes, make it easy for you to be choosy
  • Non-Stop Dancing – Just Dance 3 has a great non-stop mode that allows you to “dance your heart out” without the interruption of song selection or point tallies.
  • FUN! – With great songs from hot artist like Katy Perry, Cee Lo, Jessie J, I get to have fun dancing around the livingroom.
  • Calorie Burner – Depending on the song you choose and how “into it” you are you can really work up a sweat which is always a plus, right?

[/checklist]

I personally didn’t love all the songs on this game, but you’d probably have to be a pretty eclectic person for that to happen anyway. Also, there are some songs on the game that I wouldn’t want my girls to hear, and the game is rated E+10, meaning best for everyone ages 10 years old and up. Depending on your parenting style this age recommendation may vary, but again there are some “safe” songs you can choose and dance with your kids to.

Just Dance 3 Screenshot

It seems like Just Dance 3 is pretty hot right now, and I would definitely recommend it for purchase for yourself or as a gift.

Just Dance Kids 2Just Dance Kids 2 for Nintendo Wii left this impression on me:

[checklist]

  • GREAT for kids of different ages – even Baby C gets her own controller and dances away
  • Classic songs that are both fun and help kids learn {left and right, numbers, etc}
  • Trendy songs – from great children’s artists like The Wiggles, Imagination Movers, Yo Gabba Gabba and more.

[/checklist]

All the songs are kid-appropriate based on lyrics, I love that they have their own game that’s more their age. In addition, this game offers classic kids songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “The Hokey Pokey” in several languages. We love promoting learning other languages in the B household, do you??

Just Dance Kids 2 Hokey Pokey

Both games can be purchased for use on several game platforms like the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. Head over to Ubisoft website here: http://shop.ubi.com to check out more details and make your purchases for the dancers in your life and if that person is you, have fun and happy dancing!!

I received both Just Dance 3 and Just Dance Kids 2 in order to give my thoughts on these products for this review. The above thoughts are my honest opinions, however yours may vary. 

Hartstrings – A Great Source for Holiday Outfits

Hartstrings Outfit

Holiday pictures, fun Christmas-themed play dates and parties, and festive family gatherings with two girls in tow always requires a hint of cuteness, and of course the girls themselves are adorable, {don’t you agree?} but it doesn’t hurt to have them dressed in the cutest outfits either.

I must admit being a “girl mom”, I enjoy every second of picking out girly clothes. And I’m glad the girls just go with it, {for now at least}. I know it’s not too far off when the girls will be telling me more what they want to wear and less what I think looks adorable, but while I can dress them, I will.

Hartstrings LogoI recently learned about the online clothing shop Hartstrings, and immediately fell in love with their outfits. If you don’t already know I’m a prude when it comes to my girls especially and I make no apologies, I think little girls should be able to dress their age. Hartstrings clothing is age appropriate, stylish, and high quality.

The price point on the clothes as you can see is much higher than a Children’s Place or Carter’s, however so is the quality and style. If I had to compare Hartstrings to a children’s store I would say the pricing and style come close to Gymboree. Hartstrings, however, has hands down, the best quality children’s clothing I have seen in a while.

You know those flimsy, long sleeved t-shirts that you see and buy at every clothing store? The ones you need to have several layers just to stay warm indoors in? How about the ones that you question whether your child should wear and undershirt because it’s so thin you can see through it? Think of those shirts, and then think of the complete opposite and that is the amazing quality of long sleeved t-shirts you can purchase from Hartstrings.

Hartstrings Necklace ShirtWe not only love the quality AND the cut {not to slim or too long}, but the details of the stitching are great too. The designs they put on their shirts can be very simple or more ornate, I love the range. Also, I can tell from the details, of their clothing{I’m a details gal} that Hartstrings is really proud of the work they put out, and I admire companies like that. Read More

Hasbro – Games for the Family {Guest Post)

Scrabble Alphabet Scoop

 

Playing games with my children is more than just spending time together. Studies have shown the importance of spending quality time, actively engaging with your child is to his or her development. On top of that, I find that games serve other important purposes as well. And the best part? The kids don’t realize it; the benefits may vary with each game:

  • Strategy
  • Decision-making
  • Social skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Math
  • Patience

This is just a short list, of course.

MommyB let Hasbro know how much my family loves games, and they asked if I’d be interested in writing a review. Imagine my surprise when my box came and we received TWO games.

Scrabble Alphabet ScoopScrabble Alphabet Soup

Initially, I thought my boys would not be interested. However, much to my surprise they actually picked this game first to play.

As long as your child can recognize letters, he or she can play. My boys are 12- and 11-years old. They vary in academic ability, typically avoid playing word games with me, claiming I know all the words because I am a writer. The beauty of this game is that it puts us all on the same playing level.

We had a lot of fun, and our game lasted only about fifteen minutes straight out of the box. After the winner was declared, they both asked immediately to play again.

Pros

  • No reading required (during game play)
  • Fast- paced
  • Encourages hand-eye coordination
  • Teaches word spelling recognition
  • Kids will love it

Cons

  • Can be noisy (ours was!)
  • Little player interaction
alphbetsoup_contents

I am planning on buying this game for my brother’s kids. At just nine-, seven, and four-years-old, it is one that they can all play together and don’t have to have a parent to help. I would recommend it to everyone.

Harry Potter ClueClue: Harry Potter Edition Read More

Jib Jab Personalized Bedtime Book App {Guest Post}

Jib Jab Story Screen Shot

I try to be a good mother. I teach my kids to wash their hands, be polite and not act like bullies. I also teach them a very important lesson that many kids seem to have never been taught: The world doesn’t revolve around you, buddy.

But let’s face it — sometimes it’s nice to feel like, even for one brief, shining moment, that it is all about us. And kids love it when they have something personalized just for them. It gives them a feeling of ownership, and it captures their attention.

Knowing this, I was really excited to try out a new line of kids’ books from JibJab. You know JibJab, right? That’s the hilarious company that makes those electronic greeting cards, the ones where you can add your face to the dancing characters and send it to all your friends so they can laugh at you. Don’t act like you’ve never Elfed Yourself — you know you have.

Well now JibJab has created JibJab Jr. This is a fantastic ebook concept for the iPad. Instead of plugging your boss’ face into a turkey, you plug your child’s face into the main character of a book. And suddenly, your kid becomes the star of his very own personalized story!

This app is super easy to use. It comes with one free book — a cute story about a kid who makes a ginormous pizza. Once you select this story, you’re prompted to create either a boy or girl character.

 Jib Jab Boy or Girl

Read More

Heelys Not Just for Kids

Heelys Wave Skate Shoe

Girls YellingI am the mom who rolls her eyes at the kids who race through grocery stores playing tag, I’ll admit it I’m big on manners and being respectful of others, is that such a bad thing? I feel like kids can be kids but also be mindful of others at the same time. Thus, one of the reasons why moms like me may not like Heelys shoes. In case you’ve never heard of Heelys, you probably don’t live on planet Earth, but they are shoes with wheels in the bottom, aka skate shoes, and have been very popular with children especially.

Well, now they’re asking moms to try them. I’m a mom, I don’t hate Heelys and secretly thought they would be fun to try out, although DaddyB said I should take out some extra liability and life insurance before attempting to manuver on Heelys.

My first few tries at Heelys were slow going, of course I wanted to make sure I didn’t die seeing that I still need to work on my will, and the girls would probably miss me. But after a few good tries I was rolling around in the kitchen and dining room. Read More

The Gruffalo – A Movie Review

The Gruffalo DVDAs soon as I heard The Gruffalo was coming out on DVD, I knew for sure I’d have to check it out. There are a few books that were my childhood favorites and I still hold dear, and this was one.

Although I couldn’t actually remember the full story I knew as soon as I started watching I would be reminded of the plot. I watched with my 4 year-old and 1.5 year-old and we are very cautious of movies because our oldest is very sensitive to material that could be perceived as “scary”.

For Miss A and Baby C the movie was appropriate. I was amazed at the quality of animation in The Gruffalo DVD. Seriously, from the little details to the perspective of the movie I was very impressed. Read More