Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: Hexbugs

We were lucky enough to host a HEXBUGS party, thanks to HEXBUG and Mommy Parties.  I shared the kids' review video last week, and we shared the goodies with friends on Halloween.

I put together some fun goody bags that included Halloween soda, Halloween Pez containers, chocolate lollipops, and of course the new, limited edition, Hexbug Nano Glow-in-the-Dark Micro-Robotic Creatures.  I heard shouts of "All right!" when the boys saw the HEXBUGS in their bags of treats!

In addition to the little bugs -- which you can see the youngest of the crowd had a great time racing around on a tray -- we also had Nano Glow in the Dark Habitat / Race Tracks.  These tracks glowed in the dark really well ( but  didn't photograph well for me) and the kids had a great time watching their bugs whizz around the tracks.  I think this set of bugs is even faster than the last ones we had!

While most of the adults find them a bit creepy, the kids all squeal in delight about the HEXBUGS.  They are definitely a fun toy, and one that all the kids we shared them with agreed are FUN!

You can find them at major retailers, including Target, Radio Shack and Amazon.
*Disclosure: I received an awesome Halloween Party Pack, full of awesome toys, thanks to Mommy Parties and HEXBUGS. No additional compensation was provided.  All opinions are my own.*

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo for Youth! (Local Event in Chandler AZ)

About a month ago, my sister asked me if I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year.  I said I wasn't sure, and then she asked if I knew there was a youth program as well.  I wasn't aware of that, so I looked into it (well, okay, she sent me the link and I clicked and started reading.)

The website has tons of great information, including an 126 page workbook that is free to download.  It also has writing prompts, and kids can create accounts to keep track of their word counts online and connect with other writers.

I thought it would be fun for Colin, and maybe Nate.  The more I thought about it, I thought it would be fun to get a group of kids together to work on novels in November.  Colin worked at Gangplank this summer on a journalism camp, so I contacted the director and asked if she had anything planned.  She replied that she didn't, but she'd be happy to provide the space if I would help get the word out and organize it. Of course, I said I would.

Our kick-off event is this Saturday, and we plan to meet again mid-way and then at the end to have a celebration.  I have no idea how many kids will show up, but I'm hoping for at least 10 (and shooting for at least 30).  I shared the information with Colin and Nate's teachers, as well as online, and now here on my blog. 

The event is all about writing.  The kids will set word count goals, and if they meet their goal by the end of the month, they have the opportunity to have their books published.  Adults are expected to write 50,000 words in November, but the youth will set goals between 1,000 and 20,000 probably. 

I'm hoping to find a few sponsors to provide prizes, but I'm holding off searching very hard until I have an idea of how many kids are participating.   I think it will be a great learning experience and I'm excited to read the stories that come out of this project.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?  What about your kids?  If you're local with young ones, contact me directly for more information about our Saturday event! 

Cereal & Justice League Giveaway!

Do your kids love cereal AND comic books?  Then I have some wonderful news for you!  In select General Mills cereals, you will find one of four collectable DC Super Hero comic books inside, as well as a fun hero mask on the back! 

Participating cereals include Cinnamon Toast Crunch (17 oz.), Lucky Charms (16 oz.), Honey Nut Cheerios (17 oz.), Trix (14.8 oz.), Golden Grahams (16 oz.), Reese’s Puffs(18 oz.) and Cocoa Puffs (16.5 oz.).  You will find them at most grocery stores.

I have a set of comics, plus a box of cereal AND a Green Lantern figurine to give away to one of my readers!  My sons were so excited when this box arrived and all 3 of my kids pored over the comic books immediately.

If you want a chance to win this great giveaway, CLICK HERE to pop over to my Giveaway Form (comments left on this post WILL NOT be included in the drawing).  Once there, use this information to fill in the blanks:

GIVEAWAY NAME: Justice League
MANDATORY QUESTION: Who is your favorite superhero?

I will draw the winner next Friday, November 25, 2011.  Good Luck!!

*Disclosure: Product, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills and DC ENTERTAINMENT through MyBlogSpark.*

Review: Zombie Hexbugs for Halloween

Thanks to HEXBUGS and MommyParties, we got an awesome box full of creepy hexbugs to share with some of the boys' friends!  They are getting together on Halloween, but I wanted to share this video in case you were looking for a fun gift for kids this Halloween.

The Zombie HEXBUGS glow in the dark and are a limited edition.  They are packaged in coffin-shaped boxes and they are perfect for Halloween.  They also have glow in the dark HEXBUGS from the Nano Galileo collection and even glow in the dark habitat sets.

I'll be sharing more pictures in a few days, but here is the video review the 3 kids put together!

*Disclosure: We received a package full of HEXBUGS to share with our local friends in exchange for providing a review on this blog.  No additional compensation was provided.*

Tell Me Thursday - Speed Racer

Lydia was zooming around the track at LegoLand during our last vacation. She had a great time! Colin also enjoyed LegoLand, but Nate was a bit bored by the kiddie rides. He is more of a daredevil.

We wanted to go to LegoLand this year, because I was afraid if we waited any longer, the boys would be too old. I think I managed to make it at the perfect time. Colin & Lydia would both return, but Nate has no desire to do so. Colin was impressed with all the Lego sculptures, and Lydia liked all the rides.  I think it's a great park for kids ages 3 - 8 (preferably with some awesome discounts/coupons because it was pricy!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Speed Racer

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: LeapFrog Toys

Since my boys were little, we've been purchasing LeapFrog products.  We have been fans of the DVDs, and their educational products for at least 9 years. When we were offered the chance to share some of the latest products with local friends, I couldn't wait for the box to arrive.

We received a LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet that Lydia couldn't wait to get out of the packaging.  It took about 30 minutes to get it set up via my computer.  We already had an account set up at their site and on my computer because we have a few toys already that incorporate online features.  If we didn't have that already, it would have taken about 15 more minutes.  I think that's important to know for anybody planning to purchase one for a child, because it's something that should be done before giving it to the child, if at all possible.

Once it was set up, Lydia immediately began playing with it.  She has used our iPads and iPhones since she was 2, so the concept of a touch screen and navigating apps is pretty easy for her. She began laughing in delight and was thrilled to play with games that were definitely perfect for her.  We took it on a road trip, and she played with it during our trip and has continued to keep her interest. There are a number of games available for purchase via the website and retail stores. One of Lydia's favorite games right now is a cooking game, that goes along with all the cooking shows we watch on TV.

In the box, we also received a LeapFrog TAG Reading System and a set of books, as well as aLeapFrog Tag World Map. I gathered up the toys and headed off to her child care center to let the kids in her class play and observe what they did.  All the kids were immediately excited by the Explorer, but the map was a big hit when they realized they had to take turns. We also own the US Map and another LeapFrog TAG Reading System, so I took those along to give the kids more things to play with.

They needed only a little guidance in learning how to play with the toys.  The toys held their interest the entire time and they were disappointed when I had to pack up and leave.  It was a definite success. I have always recommended LeapFrog toys, and I am amazed at how well they continue providing high quality, educational toys that kids truly enjoy.

If you're looking for toys this holiday season for the preschool / early elementary kids, I can't recommend LeapFrog toys highly enough.

Lydia did a video review of the LeapPad Explorer.  (She was a bit tired when doing this review, because it's been crazy busy around here lately.)

*Disclosure: I received a party box of LeapFrog toys and activities in exchange for reviewing the products and sharing with local friends and my readers. No additional compensation was provided. Products were provided by LeapFrog and MomSelect.*

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nate's Thoughts on Stuttering

Today, Nate & I attended the NSA sponsored Stuttering Youth Day event at ASU.  It just happened to coincide with International Stuttering Awareness Day!

We had a wonderful morning at the event (I'll share more in a couple days) and then headed over to a pumpkin patch so the kids get find pumpkins, and then to the Phoenix Food Truck Festival to finish up our long day.  I tell you all of this as a preface, so you know that he made this video after a long day!  He wanted to share his message, though, so here it is!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stuttering Awareness Day - October 22

October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The sweet boy pictured above is the reason I even know such a day exists.

Nate stutters.  He has stuttered since he was about 3 years old, and has had speech therapy for the last 2 years.  His stutter never stops him from communicating with others, or sharing his story.  He just keeps trying until he finally is able to get all the words out.

Last October, I saw a mention of a "Stuttering Youth Day" at ASU someplace online.  I looked into it further, and registered for the event.  I had never heard of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) before then, but I wanted to learn more about how to help Nate stop stuttering.

I learned so much at that morning event.  Most importantly, I learned that the important thing is NOT helping Nate stop stuttering -- but to accept his stutter as an integral part of who he is.  I learned about research done about stuttering, and how it is unlike most other speech impediments.  I learned that people who stutter make up only about 1% of the population.  I learned how much my boy liked listening to others who stutter.

That doesn't mean that we don't want to help him learn tools to control his stutter when he makes the choice to do so.  Stuttering affects him physically and sometimes is very uncomfortable.  Many people don't want to take the time to let him finish his own sentences.  Others are just plain rude when he tries to communicate.  But, we acknowledge that he will probably always stutter.  And, that's okay!

Learning about the NSA, and the local kids chapter in our area, has made a huge difference in how we think about stuttering, and what we know about stuttering.  We happily attended events locally, and then made the effort to attend the National Conference over the summer.  Nate has now met tons of people who stutter and he is richer because of it.

Right now, Nate is struggling mightily with his speech.  The speech therapist he had been working with moved to a different school and he's not clicking with the new SLP.  He finds it hard to remember to use his tools and his secondary behaviors are very strong these days (physical manifestations of his stutter that cause him to strain his neck and shoulders and bob his head). We can always understand him, but more often he is asking us to order for him at restaurants to avoid the entire situation of trying to order a meal.

What I know, though -- thanks to the NSA and all the wonderful people we have met through the NSA -- is that his speech will get better, and maybe even worse.  But, there are those who will support him.  Help him.  Those who are just like him and struggle with fluent speech.  He can be in touch with others who truly understand what it's like to stutter.

Tomorrow , Nate and I are attending our 2nd Youth Day Event.  Nate is looking forward to it, and plans to wear his sea-green shirt (the awareness color for stuttering)  We'll both proudly wear our "Stutter Like a Rockstar" bracelets.  We'll learn more about stuttering.  Meet more people who stutter and those who love those who stutter.  Most importantly, we'll be reminded that we are not alone.

Click here to read more of my posts about stuttering

Totino's Fun Friday Nights (Giveaway!)

 Our schedule has filled back up now that school is in session and I'm healthy again!  Almost every night finds us with extracurricular activities, and since my 3 kids are all in different activities, it's pretty hectic.

We can usually count on Fridays being free for family fun, so I thought this pack I received thanks to BlogSpark, Totino's and Redbox was especially wonderful.

Not only did we receive coupons for wonderful Totino's pizza treats, but we received a coupon for a free movie rental from Redbox AND a couple fun pizza plates, a popcorn box and a fancy pizza cutter.

I don't know about you, but I love being able to relax in my living room, surrounded by my family, enjoying snacks and watching a good, family-friendly movie.  If you're like me, I'd love for you to enter my giveaway so I can send you the same wonderful prize pack.

Enter my giveaway by CLICKING HERE and filling out the form with the necessary information.  You'll need the information listed below to fill it in properly.  (You can also click on the link in the right column to read my giveaway rules)

GIVEAWAY NAME: Totino's Fun Friday
MANDATORY QUESTION: Which Totino’s pizza variety and movie is your family most looking forward to enjoying on your Fun Friday Night?

The giveaway ends October 31, 2011.  The winner will be chosen by entering the number of entries into  Good Luck!

Even if you don't win the giveaway, you can still save with Totino's and Redbox!

  • Look for specially-marked packages of Totino’s Pizza Rolls and Party Pizzas to stock up on everything you need for a Fun Friday Night: purchase 4 Totino’s Party Pizzas or 2 Totino’s 40 count Pizza Rolls to receive a free one-day redbox DVD promo code that can be redeemed at the following:

  • With more than 27,800 locations, and available nationally at Walmart, there’s always a redbox kiosk nearby! Find the closest redbox kiosk by checking
ETA:  Winner has been selected and contacted.  Thanks for reading!!
Disclosure: The VIP coupons, prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by Totino’s through MyBlogSpark.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tell Me Thursday - Toes in the Sand

Last week, we were on vacation in California.  One of my absolute favorite places to be is the beach -- and since we were able to get away for 10 days, we were able to enjoy visiting new places AND relaxing on the beach for hours.

It was a perfect vacation.

And when I need to relax, I'll pull up my pictures of the sand and the surf and remember relaxing on the beach watching my kids play. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Star Wars Themed Cereals (giveaway!)

When I opened the box with these cereal boxes inside, Colin's first response was "Why are they sending you cereal?" But, when he pulled them out and caught a look at the Star Wars artwork on the back, he said "Ohhh, cool!!"

As you can see, when you get 3 of the specially marked boxes (available exclusively at Wal-Mart), you can have a neat panorama of Star Wars on your counter! You can also hear how disappointed the kids will be when you suggest that the boxes be put away in the pantry!

I am excited that I can send one of my readers their own special Star Wars Themed boxes, as well as a $35 gift card to Wal-Mart. My kids were very excited when the latest 9 disc, Blu-Ray release of Star Wars The Complete Saga that was first available for sale September 16.  They insisted that we put our gift card towards the purchase of a set for themselves. What do you think you will pick up with yours if you win?

If you would like a chance to win these neat boxes of cereal and a Wal-Mart gift card, please enter my giveaway by CLICKING HERE and filling out the form with the necessary information.  You'll need the information listed below to fill it in properly.  (You can also click on the link in the right column to read my giveaway rules)

MANDATORY QUESTION: What will you pick up with the gift card if you are chosen?

The giveaway ends October 26, 2011.  The winner will be chosen by entering the number of entries into  Good Luck!

ETA:  Winner has been selected and contacted.  Thanks for reading!! 

*Disclosure: The cereal, gift card, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.*

Wordless Wednesday - Toes in the Sand

Friday, October 14, 2011

Be back soon

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Review: Weight Watchers Ice Cream Treats

I recently had the chance to try out 4 different Weight Watchers ice cream products.  I was sent one box each of:

·         New Weight Watchers Snack Size Ice Cream Sandwiches
·         New Weight Watchers Dark Chocolate Dulcé de Leché Dessert Bars
·         New Weight Watchers Strawberry Fruit Bar
·         Weight Watchers Strawberry Smoothie Bar

It's hard to declare a favorite, but I think the Dark Chocolate Dulcé de Leché Dessert Bar would top my list of favorites.  The chocolate coating was perfectly crisp, and the caramel swirls through the ice cream gave the perfect amount of added sweetness.

The treats arrived in a cooler full of dry ice.  I was pleased that even in the 105+ degree weather, all my treats were ice cold when I opened the box.  And, my boys were thrilled to play with the dry ice!  Their uncle came over the next day and did a few experiments with the dry ice with them and they had a blast.

One thing that I really appreciate about the Weight Watchers products is that the portion size is smaller than traditional products. The portion size seems much more realistic!  I am able to enjoy a treat, without worrying about a crazy calorie count.  The Dark Chocolate Dulcé de Leché Dessert Bar has only 130 calories (and 3 pts if you're following Weight Watchers plan).  That's a great snack or dessert that doesn't cause any guilt from enjoying.

My second favorite was the Strawberry Fruit bar.  I have always loved fruit bars, and this one wasn't too sweet and it also wasn't too hard.  I've had some fruit bars that are very hard, but this one had a great texture. It's made with real fruit and has only 70 calories per par.

My kids really liked the ice cream sandwiches.  I liked the smaller size, which meant that it didn't turn into a melted mess before Lydia could finish one.  The boys also liked that the box had both vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream options.  I confess I only got a bite of each bar and the kids ate the rest of the box (not in one sitting!!)

Finally, the Strawberry Smoothie bar was delicious.  These bars had only 60 calories each, but you would never know that they weren't a high calorie food.

We are pretty happy in Arizona right now that it's fall.  For us, that means that the high temperature may only hit 101, and if we're lucky the high may only be 96.  That means that eating ice cream as a treat is still a natural choice in our lives.  These Weight Watcher ice cream treats taste indulgent and delicious, but I know they aren't pushing my calories over the limit for the day. 

I have purchased Weight Watcher products for many years and have always been pleased by the flavors, portion sizes and variety that their products provide.  These new ice cream treats fit in perfectly!  

*Disclosure: I received 4 boxes of ice cream treats, thanks to Mom Select and Weight Watchers to facilitate this review.  No additional compensation was provided.*
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