Archive | August, 2013

Fun Friday with Reverse Charades (Review and Giveaway)

30 Aug

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Over the summer we played a lot of games.  Our favorite game was Reverse Charades: Junior Edition.  We received a sample not long ago and have had a blast playing as a family.  The game includes a box of words to act out, a timer, and a “Rules of Play” card.

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How to Play:

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My girls are 3 and 5, so they are a little young for the game but my husband and I paired up with them to help out.  We selected words that would be easy for the kids to act out.  Some of their favorite words to act out are sick, ice cream cone, leapfrog, chew, ring pop and leapfrog. The girls had difficulty keeping quiet and mouthing words, which you lose points for.  At first they were upset when they lost points but then when someone forgot the rule they would laugh.  The highlight was watching my husband and I act out words.  I must admit, there were some difficult words to act out that we had to pass on.  Reverse Charades has made our summer nights and “Fun Fridays” very entertaining.

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Once the girls head back-to-school, their bed time is early except for the weekends!  Fridays we have family fun or they invite friends over for PJ parties but bed times are put aside for “Fun Friday”.  Friday fun usually consists of movies or games.  Reverse Charades makes a great gift for birthdays or holidays.  It is fun for adults and is the perfect game to play at PJ parties, sleepovers, play dates, or with family.  It’s a game that will certainly fill a room with laughter.

Can you guess her word?

Can you guess her word? 😉

Reverse Charades is available these four editions; Original, Junior, French and Dutch for $23.99.   Expansion word packs are available for $9.99 which include the Hollywood Edition, the Canadian Edition, the Sports Edition, the Holiday Edition, and the Girls’ Night In Edition.  In addition to being an awesome game, when you buy Reverse Charades, a portion of the price supports efforts to bring laughter to kids and their families at Children’s Hospitals. Reverse Charade is available at Barnes & Noble, Hallmark, Learning Express and Amazon or find other retailers to buy near you.

Check out Reverse Charades on YouTube to see how much fun you can have with the game!

GIVEAWAY: 
Click the link to ENTER to WIN a Reverse Charades Junior Edition game for a Fun Friday with friends and family.  Giveaway ends on 9/13/2013 @11:59 pm EST!

Disclaimer: I received a sample of Reverse Charades for the purpose of this review and a sample for the giveaway.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Any information in italics came from the Reverse Charades website.

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PackIt Cool for School (Review and Giveaway)

28 Aug
Image from PackItCool.com

Image from PackItCool.com

My girls love their drinks cold, especially on a hot day.  They recently decided their drinks have to be ice-cold all the time.  If we are running errands all day and they ask for a drink, we have problem when their once ice-cold beverage is warm.  My youngest screams and has a complete meltdown.  We recently tried the PackIt Personal Cooler.  They are great for keeping drinks and lunches cold for on-the-go or back-to-school.  We use our PackIt cooler for afternoon picnics in the park, long car rides, and my daughter will be using it for kindergarten.   The PackIt cooler is also featured in my must-have lunch bags for back-to-school post. See below for features:

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Why we love PackIt:

  • All sides of the PackIt  cooler has an eco-gel lining, for 360 degree cooling. The sides harden in the freezer and act like an ice pack.  No more losing ice packs or worrying if you remembered to freeze them.
  • Folds easily to fit in the side door of the freezer.
  • PackIt is lead-free, PVC-free, BPA-free, non-toxic, earth-safe and reusable.
  • Many fun, fashionable prints.
  • Available in a variety of styles and sizes. We have been using the Personal Cooler (pictured) which is a little too big for my daughters back pack when filled with her lunch.  Once the lunch is out it will easily fit right back in for the walk home after school.  I was able to fit many drinks for our long car ride and errands out.  The dimensions of the Personal Cooler 8” x 10” x 5” (8” x 5” x 2” folded)   I haven’t tried the Mini Cooler but saw it at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  The dimensions are a little smaller at 8” x 8” x 3” (8” x 8” x 1” folded),  a great size for back-to-school lunches.
  • Affordable! The Personal Cooler is $19.99 and the Mini is $14.99!
  • Keeps food cool for up to 10 hours.  We have used it up to 4 hours.  My daughter was surprised her drink was still to her liking.

PackIt Cool for School and Enter to WIN a Pack It Personal Cooler in your favorite design by clicking the link.  Ends September 5 at 11:59 pm.

Image from PackItCool.com

Image from PackItCool.com

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  I received a sample for the purpose of this review.  All opinions expressed are my own. Information in italics are from PackIt Cool.

Back-to-School with Justin Boots for Kids

27 Aug
Image from Justin Boots

Image from Justin Boots

When I shop for footwear for back-to-school, I like to buy things that are versatile and can be worn with most of their outfits. I love cowgirl boots because they can be worn with jeans (tucked in or out), skirts, shorts or dresses. My oldest daughter loves cowgirl boots.  She received her first pair when she was two and insisted on wearing them everyday, even when she outgrew them.   When she received a pair of Justin Boots, she was ecstatic and decided she was going to wear them for the first day of Kindergarten. More after image…

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A few ways my oldest likes to wear her boots! She was a little disappointed to learn her little sister has caught up and wears the same size!

Justin Boots for Kids come in many gorgeous styles for both boys and girls.  I chose the Justin® Kids Tan Puma Snip Toe Western Boots (pictured above) for my oldest daughter because the design is subtle, beautiful, and they can go with just about everything.   The Puma Snip Toe Western Boots are made of soft leather and feature a patented J-Flex Flexible Comfort System® helps make Justin Boots the most comfortable boots you’ll ever own!   My daughter is very sensitive to touch and is very particular about how things fit.  She was able to walk in her boots with ease and told me they were very comfortable for her when she walked.  She absolutely LOVES the cowgirl heel. I could not stop smiling when she jumped up and down saying “Mom, wow, I can’t believe I have heels on”.  The pull strap makes the boots easy to put on but my daughter had a little difficulty taking them off.  Both of my girls measure around an 11 and the size 11 boot fit them great.  I love the boots so much I am going to order another style, Justin®Children’s Bay Westerner w/ Saddle Vamp in Pink Cowhide (pictured below), for my youngest!

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 Justin® Kids Tan Puma Snip Toe Western Boots are available for purchase on Cavenders.com.  

Justin Bootsthe standard of the west since 1879, also has styles for Men and Women. To learn more check out these links: Justin Boots, Justin Boot Technology, Fit Guide , Boot Making, Leather Care, How to Wear Cowgirl Boots, and the California Prop 65 Warning.

Follow Justin Boots on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer:  I received Justin Boots for the purpose of this review.  This did not alter my opinion.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Information in italics came from the Justin Website.

Shades For Every Day

21 Aug

Screen shot 2013-08-20 at 11.41.23 PM

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My girls love to accessorize.   No matter the season, when the sun is shining they have their sunglasses on.   We recently received Jibbitz™ comber sunglasses and they have tossed their old pairs aside.  My girls are going wild over them, especially my oldest.  If your child owns a pair of Crocs, then you know about Jibbitz™ charms.  One reason my girls love Crocs is because they change the look of their shoes by changing out their charms.  They LOVE that they can create a new look every time they wear their new sunglasses.  Jibbitz™ charms come in over 400 designs from your childs favorite character to festive charms for the Holidays.  There are 3D charms, glitter charms, as well as light-up charms to make your childs glasses fun, fashionable, and unique while protecting your childs eyes from the sun.  My oldest, 5, said they are “the best sunglasses” and that they very are comfortable for her.

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Whether you are walking your child to school, starting a new sports season or spending what is left of summer days at the beach or pool, protecting your childs eyes from the sun is just as important as using sunscreen.  Click the link to find out why and what to look for when buying glasses?  Luckily, my girls like to accessorize with sunglasses but if your child fights to wear them you should try a pair of Jibbitz™ sunglasses and let your child design their own pair with Jibbitz™ charms.  Check out the new comber sunglasses and other super cool styles for boys and girls.

Image and Information from Crocs

Kids’ Jibbitz™ Comber Sunglasses details:
Jibbitz™ Joint — a place for their Jibbitz™ charms!
Cool, vintage style
Shatter-resistant polycarbonate lenses
100% protection from UVA, UVB and UVC rays
Available in Shiny Navy and Shiny Fuchsia (pictured)
Retails for $12.99 (charms not included)
Image and information from Crocs

Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Jibbitz Comber Sunglasses for the purpose of this review.  This did not alter my opinion of these awesome sunglasses.  All opinions, unless noted, are my own.

 

Back-to-School: Food Storage

19 Aug

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Along with packing a lunch comes how will you store the food in the lunch bag.  Whether you are making the most of the last weeks of summer with picnics in the park or preparing for the upcoming school year, below are food storage containers must-haves:

Thermos Insulated Containers:

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The four images of the containers came from Thermos.

I remember using Thermos lunch boxes and containers as a child.  In fact, I just found my Campbell’s soup container from my childhood. I loved the container because when I saw it, It meant that I had something other than the usual sandwich.  As I prepare to pack a lunch for my daughter everyday, I have thought about what to pack so she won’t get tired of eating the same lunch everyday.  Ideas are Mac & Cheese, Meatballs, Soup, pasta or leftovers from the night before.   Thermos insulated containers will keep food warm (or cold) until lunch time with their double wall vacuum insulation for maximum temperature retention.  We will be heading back to school with these great containers; the Food Jar with Microwavable Container (4 hours hot, 6 hours cold), the Flip Top Food Jar (5 hours hot, 7 hours cold), and the Stainless King Food Jar with Spoon (7 hours hot, 9 hours cold).  We gave our Thermos containers a try with a picnic in the park and now my daughter is VERY excited for the possibilities of what she can bring for her school lunch.  If your child likes designs check out Thermos FUNtainers and Foogo containers.  Make sure to check out the beautiful designs from Dwell Studio for Thermos!  Easy to hand wash!

Zak Designs ChillPak Sandwich and Snack Containers:

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Top two images from Zak designs

We use these awesome containers all the time.  Perfect for keeping on-the-go lunches cool with the ice pack you place on top of your food, inside the container. Not only is the ChillPak Sandwich container great for keeping sandwiches cool, it is also the perfect size for two slices of watermelon, my daughters favorite fruit!  The snack container is the perfect size for an individual pack of hummus and pita chips, carrots, or cucumber.  I was also able to fit 1/2 a sandwich, hummus, cucumber and tomato into the sandwich container.   My girls love Zak Designs because they can choose from some of their favorite characters like Disney princesses to make meal time fun.  Hand wash these containers and ice packs.

Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack and Everything Bag:

Three images on the left from Itzy Ritzy.

Three images on the left from Itzy Ritzy.

I recently learned about Itzy Ritzy.  I love this bag because it comes in so many beautiful designs for girls and cool designs for boys.  The Itzy Ritzy snack bag comes in two sizes and is machine washable, making it easy to reuse for snacks like crackers, grapes, or add a sweet treat with a little note in you child’s lunch.  The bags have a 100% cotton exterior and waterproof lining interior to keep a special message from getting wet.  They also refer to them as an everything bag because you can use it for iPods and headphones when you head to the beach.  I can also fit my daughters epi-pen, training device and instructions to keep it all together in her backpack or to carry to lunch.  Enter to win an Itzy Ritzy snack bag and Balance Bar mini energy bars here.

Smart Planet Collapsible Eco Lunch Box 

Image from amazon

Image from amazon

I have not tried this container yet but I did purchase one and it’s on the way.  I love that it collapses and won’t take up too much room in the cabinet.  The container has 3 compartments for food and includes a “spork” untensil.  Can’t wait to try this container out this fall!

Disclaimer:  I received samples from Zak Designs for a past post, a sample from Itzy Rizty and a sample from Thermos.  This did not alter my opinions about the product.  Any information in italics came from the brands website.

Balance Bar mini energy bars (Review & GIVEAWAY)

18 Aug

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It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and my girls head back to school in a few weeks! Heading back-to-school means packing lunches and snacks for dance, soccer practice, play-dates and “snack week” responsibilities. I have tried to think of filling snacks that they will enjoy. I recently tried the Balance Bar mini energy bars which contain 7 grams of protein, 100 calories and 23 vitamins and minerals. The bars are soft, flavorful, satisfying, filling and easy to eat. They are the perfect size for kids or even parents who need a little something to hold them over while on-the-go. A bite of the cookie dough reminded me of the days I used to sneak bites of raw cookie dough while baking with my mom..yumm. The double chocolate is just as delicious for all the chocolate lovers out there. Unfortunately my oldest didn’t try them because they are produced on equipment that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, egg, wheat and sesame but my youngest is so excited to pack them in her Itzy Ritzy snack bag (to be featured in an upcoming food storage post).

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Image by tastefully childish

Are you ready for back-to-school? Balance Bar® in partnership with the Macaroni Kid parent network surveyed more than 5,000 parents of schoolaged children and found that 61% of parents thought that Fall (aka Back to School) is the busiest time of year for their families.

What else did they find from this survey? Check it out:

• 77% of parents said they have 3 or more activities/events per week on average once school starts.

• 80% of respondents said once school starts, they will be planning more meals and attending more sporting events for their kids.

• And 57% of parents said they try to have one meal together each day as a family to help balance their schedules.

• 79% of parents reported that they pack their kids’ school lunches.

To help parents, Macaroni Kid provided some tips on how to better prepare for a school day and balance everyone’s schedules:

• Do a run through. Are your kids starting a new school or a new routine? Do a run through. Wake up “school time,” brush teeth, get dressed, pack lunch, have a schoolappropriate breakfast and maybe even drive or walk to school. Then, take those packed lunches and head to the park for a final summer break picnic.

• Plan the menus. Give your kids several options in each category and let them weigh in on what they’d like to find in their lunch boxes… you won’t have to guess each morning and they are far more likely to eat it if they’ve had a hand in selecting it. We love Balance Bar® minis to pack along for snacks!

• Clean your closets! Nothing gets you and the kids ready for smooth mornings like purged, well-organized closets.

• Start a good sleep routine early. Kids love to stay up late in the summer time (and who can blame them) but it makes for tougher mornings if kids are used to going to bed later and sleeping in past “school time” wake up.

• Set goals with your children for the upcoming school year. Whether it’s academics, sports, or extracurricular activities it’s great to help kids get motivated for success in the new school year.

Interested in hearing more tips on how to balance your schedule come this Fall? Join Balance Bar® Tuesday, August 20 at 2:00 PM EST/11:00 AM PST for a live, one-hour Twitter chat.

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For more information visit www.Balance.com, Balance Bar on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BalanceBar), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/BalanceBar)

GIVEAWAY:

One lucky winner will win a box of Balance Bar mini energy bars and an Itzy Ritzy snack bag. Click the link to ENTER! The giveaway begins 8/18/ 2013 and will end at 11:59 pm on 8/26/2013.

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Itzy Ritzy snack bags are machine washable and waterproof. Ideal for holding crackers and Balance Bar mini energy bars. Top right image by tastefully childish

 

Disclaimer: I received samples of Balance Bar mini energy bars and an Itzy Ritzy for the purpose of this review. All images, unless noted, and information in italics came from 360 PR.

Back-to-School: Our Favorite Backpacks & Bags

13 Aug

When I was a child, I always got excited for back-to-school shopping. One of my favorite shopping trips was looking for my backpack. Now I get to enjoy looking for backpacks with my two girls. My youngest is in pre-school and my oldest starting kindergarten. Some of our favorites found while shopping:

For the aspiring artist: My oldest could color and draw all day long. She fell in love with ALEX Craft Color a (Messanger) Bag she found at Boomerang Toys and requested it as her school bag for Kindergarten.

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Image from Amazon

Make it Personal: Let your child pick his/her favorite color and design from Personal Creations and then add their name. A personalized backpack to start the year off right.

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Image from Personal Creations

Keep It Simple: I popped into American apparel the other day and fell in love with this color-blocked backpack. Simple, bright, and fun.

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Image from American Apparel

A Walk on The Wild SideJanSport was always my must-have backpack growing up so I had my girls look online with me.  The  Zebra print was a favorite for both girls on the Super FX bag.

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Image from JanSport

For the little one: Beatrix NY has been a favorite for both of my girls. My oldest picked the owl for her first back pack when she started preschool. Last year my youngest chose the ice cream cone and loves it so much she decided she didn’t want a new one so will be using it again for the upcoming school year.  Love all the “creatures of the forest” Beatrix NY has. (Read my past post)

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Image from Beatrix NY

Roll with It:  My oldest has had her eyes on the Pottery Barn Rolling Backpack for a while now.  Last year, getting her to carry her backpack was impossible because she complained “it was too heavy”.  She watched older kids roll their backpack by and immediately decided she might need a rolling backpack when she is a little older and needs to carry more for school.

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Image from Pottery Barn Kids

This year my girls will be heading off to school with these bags pictured below, but will be keeping the others in mind for the future!

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Coloring her backpack.

Coloring her “ALEX color a bag” to get ready for Back-to-School!

Have you purchased your backpack yet?  How often do you get a new one for your child?  What do you look for in a bag?

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Back-to-School: Packing Lunch

13 Aug

Kindergarten is full day which means my daughter will need to bring lunch. She has already instructed me that she will need to bring lunch until she learns how to go through the lunch line. I assume she heard that from her Pre-K teacher or overheard me one evening talking to my husband. I plan to pack her lunch most days but regardless she has been asking when she will get her new lunchbox. I heard lunch is anytime between 11 and 1 so making sure the lunchbox is insulated is key because it may sit in the classroom for hours before being eaten. I have been online looking with her at different lunch boxes she may like and will keep her food from spoiling if she happens to have a later lunch time. Here is what I’ve found:

Pack It Cool: This cooler/ lunch bag folds up and can be put in the freezer, like a freezer pack. Unfold it and pack it with your lunch. It will keep food cold for up to 10 hours.

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Image from Pack It

Pottery Barn Planet Box: I think I want this for myself :). I love the super cute design. I have never used planet box but have heard wonderful things. My daughter loves “lunchable” type meals and keeping food separate. This looks ideal for making your own “lunchable” for those who like to snack or have their food separate. It has a spot for an ice pack. The only downfall is that it’s pretty expensive.

Image from Pottery Barn

Image from Pottery Barn

Allermates “I Have Allergies” Lunch Box: A great lunch box for those with food allergies. The AllerMates lunch box will help remind teachers and cafeteria aides that your child has a food allergy. It comes with a card and Allermates cards to personalize to your child’s allergy.

Image from Allermates

Image from Allermates

Sugarbooger by O.R.E Lunch Bags: Every time I pass these at Whole Foods I have to stop and look. The designs for girls are beautiful.

Image from ORE

Image from ORE

BuiltNY Expandable Rolltop Lunch Bag from Target: Love that it can expand for the days that you need to pack a large lunch and extra snacks.

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Image from Target

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I received a sample from PackIt to review.

Re-designed Maxi-Cosi Micro AP Infant Seat with Air Protect® technology

12 Aug

Picture 8I was at a baby shower yesterday and was asked a lot of questions about infant seats.  Questions about which infant seat is the safest and if there were any new to the market?  It’s been 2 years since I last used an infant seat and a lot has changed, however, I recently learned that Maxi-Cosi, has re-designed the Maxi-Cosi Micro AP infant seat using patented Air Protect® technology.

How Air Protect Works: Through the precise release of air, Air Protect compresses and shields children from side impact intrusion and immediately reduces crash forces where the child is most vulnerable-the head.  Air Protect does this by extending ride-down, the amount of time it takes to slow a child’s movement in a crash.  By extending ride-down time, Air Protect creates a slower, softer landing.

Other differences include:

  • Revised base release handle located on shell
  • Upgraded soft goods
  • Flip-out canopy visor for extra UV protection

Not only does the Micro AP come in a variety of fun, bright, and amazing colors like Passionate Pink, it is also light-weight at 8.6 pounds. The Micro AP infant seat is rear-facing and can be used from birth to 12 months.  Click the links to find out more about the Maxi-Cosi Micro AP or where to buy!

Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  Information in italics came from a press release I received.  The image is from diapers.com.

Back-to-School: Mixed Emotions

9 Aug

The countdown to back-to-school begins.  I can’t believe how fast the summer, the year, and five years has flown by.  The little girl who needed me for everything and now shoos me away turns five in a few weeks and is starting kindergarten in ONE MONTH.  While she is overly excited about school, insistent on getting all her school supplies organized in her backpack immediately, I’ve got mixed emotions. I stay home with my girls full-time without a babysitter or help, not uncommon, but I’m not sure what I am going to do when my oldest is in school five FULL days and my youngest is in school for three hours, three days a week.  I’m definitely excited about the time I will have to run errands, work-out, and work on my blog but at the same time I’m a little sad because my two babies are growing up so quickly.   I’m also a little nervous that another year and then in the blink of an eye another five years is gone.

The other day my husband, girls, and I were preparing for the school year by talking about the previous year, going through art projects to keep or get rid of, and talking about what excites them for the upcoming year.  As we were going through their projects, I realized I needed to be better about documenting their school years and taking more photos of my girls.  I also have so many school and class pictures from previous years lying around.  I recently learned about Hallmark’s School Days Kit, perfect for photos on the first day of school from preschool to graduation and writing down memories from their school-year. The kit includes a photo album, journal cards, faux chalk inserts (preschool-graduation), chalk board and chalk.  Let your child write his or her grade to see how their handwriting develops over the years or use one of the beautifully written inserts.  Even though the school year will pass quickly, we can always keep the memories together to remind us of the first days of school when they were little.  Don’t forget to snap a shot on the first day of school!

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Check back next week for more back-to-school must-haves and more from  Hallmark!

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  The top left photo and center photo came from Hallmark.