D is FOUR! {birthday interview}

birthday interview

"Baby" D is F-O-U-R years old!  It is absolutely crazy that my sweet baby is so OLD.  I started this blog when he was about four months old, so he really has grown up here.  He is a great middle child….a great little brother and best friend to the Captain and big brother to his Baby Brother.  He is protective, sensitive, joyous, and keeps us laughing all of the time.  Happy birthday, sweet boy!  Here are his answers to our family tradition – the birthday interview:

How old are you?  four

What is your favorite color?  blue and yellow and green

What is your favorite thing to drink?  water

What is your favorite toy?  Duplos

Who are your favorite friends?  my brothers and cousins

What do you like to do?  play with Duplos

What do you want to be when you grow up?  "youth group" (youth minister)

What color is your hair?  brown

What color are your eyes?  blue

What is your favorite sport?  every sport

What is your favorite song?  "In A World Like This"

What do you like to do with Daddy?  play wrestle time

What do you like to do with Mommy?  hug her

What do you like to do with the Captain?  tickling

What do you like to do with Baby Brother?  hold him

What is your favorite restaurant?  Pizza Inn

What is easy for you to do?  color

What is hard for you to do?  do math

What is your favorite think about homeschool?  math

What is your favorite thing about church? singing

What is your favorite thing to wear?  my rock star shirt

What is your favorite show?  Diego

What is your favorite book?  "Harold and the Purple Crayon"

What has been your favorite place to visit?  Grandma and Grammy and Grampy

What was your favorite thing to do when you were 3?  go to Grammy and Grampy's house

Homemade Christmas Gak Recipe (Scented With Thieves Oil)

Homemade Christmas Gak

Christmas will soon be here but until then, there is a lot of time to fill!  Kids who are out for the holidays plus parents who have a lot to do to get ready for the big day means that we have to pull a few tricks out of our hats.  Here is a fabulous DIY for something the kids love and can spend hours creating with!  Homemade Christmas gak is perfect for preschoolers (who aren't tempted to eat stuff) all the way through adults who love to play with squishy gak.  And, it can be scented to smell like Christmas with thieves oil or cinnamon spice.  

Ingredients:

  • two 4 oz bottles of Elmer's school glue
  • one tsp Borax
  • food coloring (we used green and red, but the red only turned out pink so I abandoned it)
  • warm water
  • 3-4 drops of Thieves oil (I use Eden's Garden) or a few dashes of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Pour both bottles of glue into a bowl.
  2. Fill each empty bottle with warm water, shake them up to get the rest of the glue off, and then pour into the bowl with glue.
  3. Add food coloring.  (It took a LOT of green food coloring to get the color in my picture, and like I said the red was just pink forever, so I gave up on that.)
  4. Fill a cup with 1/2 cup of warm water.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of Borax to the warm water (not the glue mix yet) and mix well until it is dissolved. 
  6. Pour the Borax/water mixture to the bowl of glue/water mixture and stir with a wooden spoon.  Then ditch the wooden spoon and mix with your hands.  Keep at it until it is all mixed well and it is all the same color.
  7. Let the kids have at it!  Bring out cookie cutters, pizza cutters, rollers, anything to make it more fun!
  8. Store in a jar when done.

Notes:  *The thieves oil might make it harder to mix well, but keep at it and it will turn out fine.  *Remind kids to not put the Gak in their mouths and to wash their hands after playing with it.  *If the kids get it on their clothes like mine did, (because doesn't everyone love to SIT on their Gak? Ugh!) just immediately pick off any that you can and rub with warm water and then wash.  It came out well and didn't stain, but with the food coloring and oil, it made me a little nervous.

Homemade Christmas Gak is a great way to pass the time during snow days and would make a great, inexpensive gift or stocking stuffer!

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This post was brought to you by OshKosh B'gosh and Influence Central.  All opinions are mine.

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Educating Kids About the Environment with the Help of The Green Kids Club

Disclaimer: I am a member of The Social Media Panel, LLC, who was given the opportunity to review this product. However, the brand or company has not influenced me in any way to provide any type of review other than my true and honest opinions. I am disclosing all information provided in this review according to the information provided in Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  Thank you to MilkSplash for sponsoring this post. #BooksforGreenKids
 
Green Kids Club
We are always trying to think of ways to help our kids understand the importance of taking care of the environment and living greener lives.  I always find that children's books are the best way to convey important messages that we want the boys to learn, because they're captivated and pay attention to books, if they're written well.  Imagine how hard it is to teach a 3 and 6 year old about habitat encroachment, poaching, and extinction without pictures and fun stories.  I was thrilled to be able to review the Green Kids Club books because they are the perfect way to teach our kids about protecting habitats, ecosystems, and animals.  And how important preserving the environment is to humans, too!
 
The Green Kids Club books have captivating pictures and interesting storylines.  They are geared for elementary aged children, but D loves to flip through the books and look at the Green kids and all of the animals.  Green Kids booksThe Green Kids are led by Victor and Maya Green, who received the ability to talk to animals by drinking from the magic spring.  They also share that ability with other kids so they can have the same power!  Different stories focus on different areas on the world which is great for geography lessons, too!  In the back of each book, you'll find photographs of animals and important vocabulary from the book.  These really are very good educational books.  There is even a book in English and Spanish, "Minas Chilenas," which is Spanish for "Chilean Mines."
Green Kids Club books
The Green Kids are easy to love because of their fun adventures and animals that they meet!  And the Green Kids website goes above and beyond by offering online coloring pages, games, toys, DVDs, and more!  These books would be great for any classroom, homeschool family, or just any child that loves animals and loves animals and learning about the environment.  And above all, these are great books for green kids!
 
What do you think about the Green Kids Club books?  

 

 

Creating Christmas Traditions: Family Game Night with Northpole

This Christmas traditions shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias

#northpolefun 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.  

Northpole toys at Walmart

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.
family game nightChristmas games

We also played Rooftop Drop, where you toss three beanbags that look like gifts into a cardboard "chimney."  D was good at this game!Northpolebeanbag

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.  
IMG_0109 3d glasses Northpole
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!

#Northpolefun

#Northpolefun

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!

IMG_0105

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!

homemade cranberry soda

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups washed cranberries
  • 1 cup whole sugar
  • sparkling water or soda water 

Directions:

  1. Mix water, cranberries, and sugar in a small pot.
  2. Cook for about 6 minutes on medium-high heat, until berries pop.
  3. Mash berries with a spoon or potato masher.
  4. Turn off heat and let syrup cool for a few minutes.
  5. Pour cooled mxture through a mesh strainer.
  6. Save the cranberry pulp for homemade cranberry sauce or dessert topping.
  7. Store cranberry syrup in a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate.  Syrup keeps for a few weeks in fridge.
  8. To make cranberry soda, add 4 TBSP cranberry syrup to a glass.  Pour about 6 oz of sparklng water or soda, stir, and enjoy!

**Makes about 1 1/2 cups of syrup**

What is your are some of your favorite family Christmas traditions?

Engage Your Children With Noah – a Wordless Picture Book

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.

noahIf 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.

Noah bookThe 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!

Noah

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!

Official NOAH page

Enter to win "Noah" in the giveaway below!

noahgiveaway

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What’s The Hottest New Tablet For Kids This Season? The VTech InnoTab MAX! {giveaway, too}

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?

VTech InnoTab MAX

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:

  • ​​The tablet comes with 15 onboard apps including Premium VTech Kid Connect, My Magic Beanstalk, Movie Maker, Art, Wonder Cam Max, E-Reader with Story Dictionary, and more.
  • comes with one free Toca Boca app and two additional free apps that can be downloaded from the Learning Lodge
  • built-in rechargeable Lithium battery
  • kid-safe Wi-Fi
  • durable kid-friendly cover that can be removed, also acts as a stand
  •  plays videos and mp3 songs
  • 180° rotating camera
  • 8 GB memory – expandable up to 40 GB with a 32 GB microSD card
  • and much more!

VTech InnoTab MAX2Both 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!

Check out the VTech Kids website, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more about the InnoTab MAX!  Purchase it on Amazon, too!

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!

VTech InnoTab Max Giveaway

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Gifts For The Kid Who Has Everything: Kiwi Crate and Koala Crate Subscription Boxes

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.  

Wild West Kiwi Crate Box

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!

koala crate

Kiwi Crate is an award-winning, monthly subscription service that provides all the hands-on materials to inspire creative, educational fun. With themes like Music, Color, Robots, and Safari, these crates deliver everything needed for unique activities that you and your kids can enjoy together. We know parents are pressed for time, so Kiwi Crate makes it easy to engage your children in creative activities that are both fun and educational.  Monthly crates include all the materials & inspiration for 2-3 hands-on projects, delivered to your door! Plus, a 16-page magazine with activities to extend the learning & fun. Subscribers receive a bonus welcome kit + FREE shipping. Available to the US & Canada.

There are different crates for different age levels and interests:

  • Koala Crate:  ages 3-4
  • Kiwi Crate: ages 4-8
  • Tinker Crate: ages 9-14+
  • Doodle Crate: ages 9-16+

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:

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest

 

 

Prepare For Dry Winter Skin and Soothe Irritating Eczema

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.

aveeno #AveenoEczemaTherapyOctober 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.  

What Is Eczema ?

Eczema is a chronic skin disorder that affects approximately 35 million infants, children, and adults in the United States.  Inflammation causes the skin to become itchy, red, and dry.  Extreme cases can cause the skin to become leathery, cracked, and bleeding.  Eczema can be caused by stress, heat and sweat, temperature changes, extreme cold and dry climates, heredity, allergens, or irritants.  In our case, heredity plays a huge factor. We haven't been able to isolate any known cause of our eczema, but we do know that the dry winter weather causes flareups.
 
I have bad hand eczema, even though I use fragrance free products or products with natural oils and scents.  I think it's just part of being a mom with sensitive skin and frequently washing my hands. The Aveeno eczema hand therapy cream really helps!  If I remember to moisturize my hands throughout the day when I feel them begin to get dry, they feel awesome. 

aveeno

It was recommended to us by a dermatologist recently that we should limit the boys baths to once or twice a week.  I feel better about giving the boys a bath now that we have Eczema Therapy soothing bath treatment from Aveeno.  This bath additive is fragrance free, tear-free, and provides relief for our dry, itchy, irritated eczema skin.  
 

photo 1 (2)

After the bath, we follow up with Aveeno Eczema Therapy moisturizing cream.  It is thick and really seals in the moisture!  Our skin feels so soft afterwards and our dry skin is soothed!
 

eczema dos and don'ts

 
Dermatologist Kenneth Beer M.D. has provided some dos and don'ts for eczema that were helpful:
  • DO use hydrating cleansers and barrier creams with soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal daily to maintain the integrity of the skins barrier.
  • DO look for products with ceramide – an essential lipid naturally found within the skin that plays a key role in enhancing and restoring the skin's protective function.
  • DO you use fragrance free laundry detergent to wash clothing, sheets and towels and avoid dryer sheets.
  • DON'T  use body lotions with irritants which can aggravate skin and cause eczema to flare.
  • DON'T  use products with fragrances or harsh dyes.
Also, remember to look for products with the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance.
We have tried so many different products and I know that all of these suggestions, plus a combination of high quality eczema products like Aveeno helps with the horrible eczema symptoms we have had!  If we stay on top of it and keep our skin moisturizer throughout the winter, I think we will have healthier skin. 
 
To learn more about eczema, visit www.nationaleczema.org.
 
For more information about Aveeno eczema therapy products, visit Aveeno.com and Facebook.com/Aveeno.
 

How do you prevent and treat eczema?

 

 

Read “Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times” with Your Children

propeller giveaway

 

 

 

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.

Treasury of Bible Stories one sheet

 

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.

photo 3 (3)

 

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!

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