Our adventures, going green, and learning something new every day in Dallas/ Ft. Worth, Texas!
This Christmas traditions shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias
I love the Christmas season as much as the next person, but I also find myself really struggling for creativity during this time of the year. I want to create fun memories and traditions for the boys, but admittedly need a lot of help. After the cold, winter-like temperatures last week, we all needed a way to release the energy and just have fun. So, we had an early Christmas family game night! The boys definitely take after thier daddy in that they love playing games and being silly, so that was my inspiration.
I picked up a few Northpole games and activities, snacks and ingredients for cranberry soda (see recipe below) at Walmart (toward the front of our store in the Christmas toys and gifts area) and surprised the boys by loading up and heading to church where Daddy works and we have more space to run and play.
Everyone's favorite activity was the Peppermint Ring Fling game. One person wore a cute pointy Christmas hat while another person tossed soft rings and tried to land them on the point of the hat. Daddy was especially good at this game, but the boys learned that it takes two to make it work.
I turned both games into a fun relay and put the Rooftop Drop game at one end and the Peppermint Ring Toss game at the other. The boys had to run (aka burn energy) back and forth to get all of the rings and beanbags where they belonged. I also incorporated a fun game with the Magic Snowball that lights up when you toss it!
When they needed a rest, we had snacks and opened up the adventure map that came with Christmas goggles. The map came alive with the 3d goggles! The Captain loved the adventure tasks on the side and putting the stickers where they belonged.
Then, I read "Once Upon a Northpole Christmas" (that came with a super awesome Find me Santa! snowflake that flashes so Santa can find you on Christmas Eve! We will be saving that for later!) The pictures are just beautiful and the story is a good one. The boys really loved listening to it!
Here is a sweet commercial about the Find Me Santa! snowflake:
What truly made our new Christmas tradition of family game night was this "Snow Now!" You add water and it turns into this fluffy white "snow" that is fun to play in and decorate with. It obviously isn't real snow, so it took a little effort to clean it up, but the boys have been wishing for snow for so long that it was so awesome to see the look on their face when they saw it!
The special Christmas items from Northpole made our family game night so much fun, plus it was so easy for me. The best news is that there was a whole aisle of products to choose from, so I may head back and buy some more products for Family Game Night Part 2!
The boys favorite snack/beverage item was this cranberry soda, so I wanted to share the recipe! It's easy to make and oh so good!
**Makes about 1 1/2 cups of syrup**
What is your are some of your favorite family Christmas traditions?
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
If there is one thing that never gets old, it's reading books. We love to sit down with a good book and read it together. The Captain is a good reader and he loves to read, too. I never knew how refreshing it would be to open and explore a wordless picture book, though! We were sent "Noah" by Mark Ludy to review and the pictures truly do speak for themselves. Looking at the detail that the illustrator put into these pictures is just amazing.
The boys are already familiar with the story of Noah, but even if a child isn't, they will be intrigued and engaged with these beautiful pictures. Children can use their imaginations and what they know about the story of Noah already to tell a full story with this book. It has also inspired us to open the Bible and reread the story of Noah to see the inspiration Mark Ludy used when drawing. (Read more about Mark Ludy.)
The following picture is my favorite in the book. Noah is looking up at God with a look of awe, fear, and undoubtedly has many questions running through his mind. But he trusted God. Noah knew that God was in control and he wanted to do whatever was asked of him. What a wonderful lesson for this kids. Trust in Him and you will be richly blessed!
I highly recommend this beautiful hardcover picture book for you or a someone you know. I guarantee you will find yourself getting lost in the book – all 64 pages, thinking of what it must have been like for Noah so long ago! (Bonus: Find Squeakers the mouse on every page!) Purchase NOAH on Amazon for less than $15. It would make an awesome Christmas gift!
Enter to win "Noah" in the giveaway below!
This post was brought to you by VTech. All opinions about the VTech tablet for kids are that of my guest reviewer or my own.
If you have been to the toy section at any major store recently, you will see lots and lots of great products to choose from. If you have narrowed it down and you have decided you are buying your child (or a child you know) a tablet, you may wonder how they are different and what advantages one tablet has over another. Well, I had a guest reviewer check out the new VTech InnoTab MAX with her twin six year-olds and they were sold within the first hour of opening it.
The VTech InnoTab MAX is recommended for children ages 3-9 and sells for around $109. It is VTech's 4th generation kids' learning tablet, featuring its fastest processor yet. It has up to six times the processing power of previous generations and a 7" high-resolution, multi-touch screen display. It's the perfect size for little hands! The InnoTab MAX also has enhanced their Premium VTech Kid Connect and at no additional charge, allows kids and parents to exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings, and fun stickers in real time between the InnoTab MAX and a smartphone. How awesome is that?
Okay, aside from the cool, techie side, the InnoTab MAX is excellent for educational purposes, too. It is NOT just a toy. Kids have access to more than 650 educator endorsed, age and stage appropriate learning titles as well as carefully cultivated educational Android apps that can be purchased and downloaded through VTech's Learning Lodge app store. Parental controls allow parents to manage their child's apps, web access, and tablet time, as well as view a progress log. This is so helpful because kids and parents alike can get carried away, so it's helpful to have all of that information in one place.
Other great features include:
Both of the kids absolutely loved the InnoTab MAX. It is very kid friendly! They were able to figure out almost everything on their own. It is something that they can use together, alone, or with their parents and that is a major plus! It's great for waiting for her brother at baseball practice, the doctor's office, or when you have a few minutes to reward the kids for positive behavior. They really love it!
Enter to win this season's hottest new electronic toy in the Rafflecopter below. You don't have much time, so I've added some extra entries to help you out. Good luck!
This post has been brought to you by Kiwi Crate. All opinions are mine.
Since becoming a homeschooling mom, I have found that I struggle to come up with engaging, educational crafts for the boys. Pinterest is my frenemy! I find the perfect activities on Pinterest, but then the busy side of me sets in and I cannot get everything together. I am not organized enough to gather all the materials and get a craft done in any appropriate amount of time. I've come to grips with that. With that said, you will understand my sheer excitement when the boys each received a box with their name on it containing instructions, craft materials, and extra activities that were age appropriate and meaningful. It was like someone came and led an afternoon long educational arts and crafts lesson that the boys loved.
The Captain opened his Wild West Kiwi Crate, which is geared for kids ages 4-8, while D and Baby Brother were taking a nap. (No little brothers with sticky fingers makes for a better experience, you know.) The Captain read something about a hobby horse. I admit, I was left thinking I was going to have to scour the house to find a stick or something that we could use because there was NO way that Kiwi Crate fit one in their box. Except they did! The oh so wise company included a paper roll, about the size of a paper towel roll and inside was a slightly smaller roll. All we had to do was pull it out and put a cute bandanna sticker to hold it in place and instantly we had a "stick" long enough! The Captain was able to read the directions and all I had to do was help him to remove the backing on some of the stickers. His hobby horse had eyes, a mane, ears…and he absolutely loved it. The whole Wild West theme, crafts, and more were right up his alley. He also was able to create bean bags by threading a piece of yarn through holes (hello fine motor skills!) in precut material. Brilliant.
After D woke from his nap, I showed him his Koala Crate and he was so excited! Usually he has to team up with his older brother for craft projects, but not with Koala Crate. It was geared for his age and he was able to do everything without being frustrated or needing lots of extra help. His Koala Crate was all about learning colors and included crayons, watercolor paints, a soft color dice toy, transparency sheets for exploring colors and color mixing, and a garland to paint! He loved the scavenger hunt game and painting the garland. So much fun!
There are different crates for different age levels and interests:
These monthly subscription boxes would make a great, year-round Christmas gift for a kid or teen who has everything. There are new surprises every month, creativity to be explored, and lots of fun to be had! Visit Kiwi Crate and use code "LWCF5off" to save $5 off of your first crate with a subscription to any crate!
Connect with Kiwi Crate:
I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for #AveenoEczemaTherapy. I received a sample to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.
October is National Eczema Awareness Month and with good reason. When the temperatures start getting cooler, I know now that I need to be prepared with an arsenal to combat our eczema. It seems that the dry, cold winter weather is awful on our skin. The Captain has suffered with eczema many winters, and Baby Brother is following in his footsteps.
I treasure the times that our family can read together. It is one of the most special times of the day. Often, I miss out on bedtime with the older two because I am putting Baby Brother to bed, but when I do get to do the nightly routine with the boys, we love to read a Bible story together. Sometimes the Captain will read a page and then me, and then Daddy, all taking turns. The boys love to hear stories from the Bible, especially Joshua and the battle of Jericho. We have loved reading the Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley.
The Treasury of Bible Stories is a rhyming Bible storybook that has playful, engaging, vibrant pictures that are fun to explore. It is important to note that the treasury isn’t word for word Bible verses, but Kelly has taken timeless Bible stories and reworded them into fun rhymes. This is very educational for the boys so they can predict what word is coming next.
From “A Silly-Sounding Plan: The Dizzying Tale of Joshua at Jericho,” based on Joshua 1-6:
Though the plan sounded silly, the people obeyed,
because God always did as He said.
So all of the priests got in place in the line
with armed guards in the rear and ahead.
Then they marched around Jericho once every day,
and repeated – six days in a row.
On day number seven, they made seven trips
when they finally heard trumpets blow.”
Each Bible story is told in a whimsical way that holds the boys’ attention. They have heard most of these stories before, but the author presents them in a way that is new and fun and makes the stories come alive! They relate to the characters in the stories and see how God had His hand in all of their stories. I highly recommend this book for anyone with children who love to learn about the Bible and picture what it was like in Bible times.
Visit Christian Book to purchase this book for birthdays, Christmas, or just because.
We are giving away a copy of this great book! Enter to win a copy of “Treasury of Bible Stories” for a child you know!
This post was brought to you by Invisalign. All opinions are mine.
For some reason, I was blessed with straight teeth. (The Captain likes to point out my one slightly crooked tooth, but thankfully that’s the extent of it.) Hubby, on the other hand, had braces for a year and a half as a teenager, and has a permanent retainer on his bottom teeth. I did not know him until college and would not have known otherwise, but he said wearing braces was not fun. His least favorite part was getting hit in the mouth with a ball or an elbow, which, as you can guess, happened a lot as an active teenager. He says the braces caused him to bleed and then get a sore in his mouth that would take a long time to heal. I can only imagine how awful that would have been. I truly feel for everyone who has had to have braces for any length of time!
So far, our kids’ teeth are all baby teeth, so we do not know what their dental future holds. D already has an overbite, though, and the dentist said we would just have to watch it over the years. I think it’s safe to assume that a need for braces in at least one of the boy’s futures. It’s coming up sooner than I thought, though, because The American Association of Orthodontics recommends taking kids for their first orthodontic check-up NO LATER than age 7! The American Dental Association says this is because “Your child’s dentist can spot problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth early on, while the primary teeth are present.” Who knew!? I didn’t!
I was excited to learn about Invisalign as an alternative to braces. Invisalign Teen clear aligners straighten teeth without traditional wires and brackets. Teens and pre-teens will have more confidence and not suffer the painful mouth sores and cuts that braces wearers suffer. Some other great benefits to Invisalign Teen include:
I was encouraged by these before and after pictures. IF D still has an overbite in a few years, we will look to find an orthodontist who specializes in Invisalign. These results are great:
Check to see if your orthodontist specializes in Invisalign or find an ortho who does. Visit the Invisalign website and click “find a doctor” to locate experienced Invisalign and Invisalign Teen doctors in your area. Follow Invisalign on Twitter and Facebook, too.
Do you have questions or want to see if this is right for you or your child? Find out the answers to your questions about Invisalign and see more Invisalign results on the website!
Have you brought your child for an orthodontic consult yet? Do you have experience with Invisalign? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments section!
Enter to win a new Invisalign Smile in the Rafflecopter below!
This smartwatch for kids post was brought to you by VTech. All opinions are mine. The VTech product, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by VTech.
The Captain has wanted a watch for the longest time. We put it on his birthday list, but he constantly talked about what kind of watch he wanted. Once he saw the commercials for a smart watch, however, it was all over! I told him that they didn’t make those for kids, and he wasn’t getting one that was made for adults. He was ecstatic when I was proven WRONG and we got to review the VTech Kidzoom Smartwatch…..only for KIDS! And the best part…it was GREEN, his favorite color!
The Kidzoom Smartwatch is so much more than just your ordinary watch. The Captain figured out all of the functions pretty quickly, too! Here are the features of this smartwatch for kids:
The Captain has had this watch for over a month now, and it really has stood up to bumps, drops, and even a few splashes and an almost dunk in the tub. It’s great for on-the-go games and a fun, easy accessible way to pass the time in the carseat. The sound is adjustable and not annoying, either, which is great for parents like me who find lots of electronic devices highly annoying if they don’t have a volume control. Note for parents: If you are giving this as a gift, make sure to charge it the night before because a smartwatch that doesn’t work and must be charged is no fun.
The Captain’s favorite part of the Kidzoom Smartwatch is the camera. He took hundreds of pictures and, like a smart phone, it’s easy to delete the pictures or transfer them to the computer.
Now YOU have a chance to win a VTech Kidzoom Smartwatch for a child you love! Just enter in the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. #kidscards #CollectiveBias
Back to school is an exciting time of year for everyone. New clothes, shoes, school supplies, classrooms, teachers….it's just all so fun! I always loved the excitement of back to school when I was a kid and as a kindergarten teacher. It was a very special time. We have decided to homeschool the Captain this year and I wanted to make him feel extra special and excited about the new year. I picked up a few things at Walmart including new pencils, supplies and a cute card from the selection of Hallmark poster cards for kids that I knew he would love. It was unlike a traditional card because it unfolds out into a huge poster! The cashier was confused with it, and thought for sure it wasn't just ONE card because it was so big!
I showed him the card and his new stuff for the new school year and he was thrilled. I know that the card made him feel special and he loved to know I had picked it up just for him! He went crazy for the "Planes" theme!
The card folded out to a huge poster for the Captain's room!
Hallmark cards for kids are a wonderful way to show a child you love that they are special. They are great for any occasion – birthdays, good luck, or just that you are thinking of them!
You can also earn rewards for the Hallmark cards that you buy at Walmart. For every five cards you buy, you will earn a reward. Check out the Hallmark Card Rewards Program!
Make sure you check out Connections from Hallmark and check out great content from other bloggers. Join in the #kidscards conversation on Twitter!