Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holly and Hal Moose

If you've watched TV lately, you may have seen the new Christmas movie about Holly and Hal Moose. My kids were so excited to watch something new, in addition to our regular Christmas classics. They fell instantly in love with the animated characters of Holly and Hal, the adorable moose children in this story.

Imagine our excitement when Holly and Hal arrived on our doorstep recently! My children delighted in Hal's antler decorations-Christmas lights that actually light up and glow! They've taken pleasure in dressing, undressing, and redressing Holly and Hal and acting out scenes from the movie. In addition to the "real" Holly and Hal, we also received the book that chronicles their "uplifting" Christmas adventure.

Interestingly enough, we recently took our first family trip to the Build-A-Bear workshop. It was there that we created a Christmas gift for Daddy. It's a camo military bear in full Army gear. It's a sweet bear that was made with love. In fact, he has 6 hearts, each kissed by one of our children. The bear also has a recording of our children telling Daddy that they love and miss him. He's deploying to Iraq right after Christmas so this is a very special bear.

While we were at the Build-A-Bear workshop we saw Holly and Hal. My kids were begging to buy them after seeing the movie. I resisted their desperate pleas, only to find Holly and Hal arrive on our doorstep the next day. What a surprise!

The lovable characters of Holly and Hal are receiving a lot of attention from my lovable kids. Even the youngest of my half dozen have been cuddling with their moose friends. I have never seen such a sweet moose. Have you?
If you're still trying to wrap up your Christmas shopping this year, check out Holly and Hal's Uplifting Christmas Adventure. You can find the characters at the Build-A-Bear workshop and there's an interactive website as well. I'd recommend getting the package that includes the characters as well as the book or DVD so that your children can enjoy the fun Christmas story as well.

This was not a compensated review but I did receive Holly and Hal and their book for free from MomSelect in exchange for providing my honest opinion.

Monday, December 7, 2009

BOZ, The Green Bear Next Door

Until recently, I had never heard of BOZ. BOZ is "The Green Bear Next Door" and he's actually pretty cute, or at least my kids think so! He's the star of his own DVD series for preschoolers.

BOZ teaches early educational concepts to young children while also upholding the morals and family values that parents want their children to learn. BOZ is a faith-based program and is perfect for Christian parents who want to provide their children with wholesome entertainment.

My kids love Veggie Tales and BOZ is very similar, with fun characters, sing-a-long songs, and exciting stories. BOZ and his family (including 4-year old twins- how perfect is that for our house?) are sure to capture the hearts and minds of preschoolers everywhere.

Right now, my children are especially delighted with the BOZ Christmas special, "A Wowie BOZowee Christmas." This DVD reminds children that God's gift to us was Jesus, at Christmastime and all year long. There are special bonuses on this DVD, such as a "Build Your Own Snowman" game that my kids absolutely love!
If you visit the BOZ website you can find many great resources for parents. There are fun games and activities for children and links to support for parents (such as MOPS.) There are even resources for community and church groups as well. The website is easy to navigate and the online shop carries all of the BOZ DVDs, CDs, books, toys, and more.

My only complaint is that the voice of BOZ is eerily similar to Barney, the obnoxiously nice purple dinosaur. (Could it be because the producers of Barney are also the producers of BOZ?) I can easily look past this when I see my children enjoying the BOZ DVDs and singing along with the catchy tunes. I love knowing that my kids are watching shows that uphold our Christian beliefs.

Take a look around the BOZ website and introduce your kids to the green bear next door!


This is not a compensated review but our family did receive 2 BOZ DVDs from MomSelect.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cheerios Giveaway

Cheerios is giving away 100,000 books to community-based programs serving children in need. This holiday season you can help provide books to children who might not otherwise have access to them. Did you know that the ratio of books per child in middle-income neighborhoods is 13 to 1, while in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is only 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children? More than 80% of childcare centers serving low-income children do not have age-appropriate books.

Cheerios, First Book, and Jon Scieszka are delivering 100,000 books to these needy children. Jon Scieszka is the author of the popular "Trucktown" series and other books for children. You can help provide books to children in your state by answering trivia questions at www.FirstBook.org/Scieszka. For each correct trivia question that you answer, you can vote for your state to receive books. The top five states will each receive 20,000 books. Go play the quiz and vote for your state today!
I am pleased to also be able to give away a Cheerios prize pack to a lucky reader. This prize pack includes a box of Cheerios cereal, a sampling of children's books, and a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me why your state should win 20,000 books. For one additional entry, post about this giveaway on your blog or tweet about it. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway ends on December 12, 2009.

Giveaway now closed. Congratulations to Carolsue (comment #8)!


This is not a compensated post but Cheerios provided 2 prize packs to me through My Blog Spark.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Two Snowflakes Giveaway

It's no secret that twins are special! Jennifer Miller's new book, "Two Snowflakes" explores the good and bad things about being a twin from a child's perspective. This was a must-read for our family and is a fun book even if you don't have twins in your house.
"Two Snowflakes" is a children's story about two identical snowflakes and two identical twin girls. We all remember the old saying about no two snowflakes being exactly alike, but have you ever thought about no two identical twins being exactly alike? It's a common misconception that identical twins will always share the same interests, or even look exactly the same. This adorable story addresses the feelings that twins may have when they look the same and how others see them as individuals.

I've been blessed to have two sets of identical twins but I have no idea what it feels like to be a twin. My twin girls are 3 and a half and are just starting to understand that they share a special bond. They really enjoyed reading this book and I'm sure that, even at their young age, they could relate to the story. My older singleton boys now have a little better understanding of what their siblings may feel when people confuse them or think they are the same. This book was a real teaching tool in our house.
Winter is upon us and there's no better time to surprise your child with this adorable snowflake story. If you have twins, or know of a family with twins, this book is the perfect holiday gift! You can find "Two Snowflakes" on Amazon.com or on Jennifer Miller's website.
Right now you also have a special chance to win a copy of "Two Snowflakes." To enter, leave a comment below. For additional entries you may blog or tweet about this giveaway. Leave a link to your blog post or tweet below. One entry per comment. This giveaway ends on December 10, 2009.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Congrats to Anna (comment #9) who won a copy of "Two Snowflakes!"

This is not a compensated review. I did receive 2 free copies of the book to review and give away.

Monday, November 23, 2009

$50 ebeanstalk Gift Certificate Giveaway

Ebeanstalk is giving away $50 gift certificates! With the holidays just days away (doesn't it sound more ominous when you say it like that?) everyone is toy shopping. Even veteran moms can use a little help! Ebeanstalk is a website dedicated to selecting great, safe toys for a 3 year old and toddler toys. They also have toys for children of all ages! They rely on the opinions and feedback of bloggers and moms around the country and have a team of child experts who help to pick out kids toys.

Would you like a chance to win a $50 ebeanstalk gift certificate? It's easy! Take a picture of your little one playing with a toy, and email the picture to emily@ebeanstalk.com. You could be 1 of 10 lucky winners to win a $50 gift certificate at ebeanstalk this holiday season. Entries will be chosen on their cuteness factor. For privacy, please only send the first name of your child and your email address. Your email address will be kept private. Please do not send your child's last name or address.

As a special bonus, all blog readers will receive a 10% discount on any ebeanstalk purchase. Enter the code ebeanstalk100 at checkout!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Logitech Webcam

Recently I was excited to receive a Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 in the mail. I was hoping I'd be able to try it out because I was already planning to purchase one and I'm a webcam virgin. I had no idea what type to buy or even how to use one. (Pathetic, I know!)

With a husband who is deploying to Iraq and 6 children at home who miss him almost as much as I do, the webcam is a huge blessing. We can see each other and talk even though we're thousands of miles apart. Technology is amazing!

Because this is my first webcam experience, I'll admit I don't know much about the specifications of the camera. What I do know is that there is a 2MP autofocus lens and the video and image quality is far better than I was expecting. The camera also has RightLight technology which basically means that if you're using the webcam in your basement at 11pm, you don't have to worry about poor image quality from the lack of light. The camera compensates accordingly and your videos still look good. In other words, it's EASY!

Please ignore the terribly unflattering still shot that appears below, and instead watch the video and see what I mean. This was my third time using the webcam and I had it installed and running within minutes. Logitech even includes free video software so I was able to make video calls instantly. Now, if I could just stop thinking about what a huge dork I am in videos...

video

If you're looking for a great webcam, this is it! It's high quality, easy to use, and includes everything you need to get started. The software installs quickly and gives you instant access to your videos, pictures, and the ability to make video calls. I was intimidated at first, but the Logitech Pro 9000 webcam really has been a great way for me to plunge into the world of web video!

This was not a compensated post. I did receive the webcam for free.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sonicare for Kids

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Sonicare for Kids. This review is my honest opinion.

With 6 children ages 6 and under, I spend a lot of time with personal hygiene. Unfortunately, not my own. I have 6 little mouths full of teeth that need brushing, faces that need washing, and bottoms that need cleaning. The day that my oldest son started to bathe himself and brush his own teeth was a major milestone! With 5 kids in diapers at that time, I was excited to get a break.

As a mother, I worry that my kids are growing up healthy and of course I want them to have clean, white teeth. I always worry about whether my kids are doing a good job when they brush. Once they gain that independence to do it themselves, I get to go back and check their work. I cringe at the thought of last night's chocolate chip cookie rotting away in my son's mouth. Ick.

I'm sure my kids aren't the only ones who rush through brushing their teeth. They never seem to be at the sink long enough to do a good job, and if they are at the sink long enough it usually means they are playing in the water and the bathroom is being flooded. Trust me on this one.

Sonicare for Kids is a fantastic new toothbrush for kids from the makers of the #1 dentist recommended brand of sonic toothbrushes. Sonicare for Kids combines the benefits of the adult Sonicare brushes with special features to encourage good hygiene in kids. Like the adult brushes, the patented sonic technology creates a gentle and powerful cleaning action that gets in between teeth and along the gums. My kids best describes this as "the tickles." It actually feels good to clean your teeth!

The new Sonicare for Kids brush is perfect for kids who are learning to brush on their own. The brush is designed for 4-10 year olds and my 6-year and 5-year old were eager to try it out. Both of my boys are brushing their own teeth but they do sometimes need me to go back and clean them again when they've not done a great job.

My favorite feature of the Sonicare for Kids brush is that it has a built-in times that teaches children proper brushing techniques. There are a series of musical notes that alert the child to switch between cleaning different areas of their mouth. My boys often need a reminder to clean the backs of their teeth and this brush teaches them to do that. It also encourages them to brush for a full 2 minutes by slowly increasing the length of time over 90 days. During that 2 minutes, there are 4 sets of musical notes that let them know to switch between brushing the outside of the lower teeth, inside of the lower teeth, outside of the upper teeth, and inside of the upper teeth. There's no place left for germs to hide!

I was impressed to see that the Sonicare for Kids brush has 2 different modes. The low mode is for ages 4 and up while the high mode is for ages 7 and up. My almost-but-not-quite 7-year old was proud to use the high mode while his younger brother used the low mode. In addition, they each had their own brush heads-one for younger kids and one for older kids. My only complaint is that the set only comes with 2 brush heads (one of each) with no room on the charging base to add more. With 6 kids to brush, we will need more in another few months!

My sons both love their new Sonicare brush and it shows. Their teeth have been perfectly clean since the brush arrived! The brush appeals to kids with 3 different, funky faceplates that can be changed as desired. My kids actually want to brush their teeth now. I feel good knowing that they are doing a good job and I have more time to take care of their twin brothers and twin sisters. We all win!



Would like to try a Sonicare for Kids toothbrush? (You know you would!) BlogHer is giving away a $100 Visa gift card for one of my lucky readers. You have a total of 10 chances to win a $100 Visa gift card from BlogHer Reviewers, plus the chance to win a Sonicare prize pack on the BlogHer.com special offers page!

To enter, leave me a comment below and tell me:
How do you handle your kids' dental hygiene?
or leave a link to your post on your own blog in the comments below.

The contest will begin at 9:00 a.m. (PST) on 10/15/2009 and will end at 5 p.m. (PST) on 11/15/2009. Make sure that the email address you leave is correct.

Rules:

  • No duplicate comments.
  • You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
  • You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
  • This giveaway is open to US-residents, 18 years of age or older
  • Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by e-mail.
  • You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
  • Please see the official rules here: http://www.blogher.com/sonicare-kids-sweepstakes-official-rules"; target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Official rules

Official site



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Secrets of the Sea

Picking toys is not easy and there is a toy website called ebeanstalk that is dedicated to selecting good, safe learning toys. They need help from moms (like me!) to help pick the toys. We recently received a game from ebeanstalk for Matthew (age 6) and Joshua (age 5) to review. My boys absolutely love board games and we have quite a collection of them. They were both very excited to try out a new game! The game they sent is called Secrets of the Sea from Playroom Entertainment, who makes great educational toys.

As with any new game, I spent several minutes reading the directions while the boys frantically set up the game pieces. There are a lot of small tiles that are placed on the game board but the set up is simple enough that the kids can do it themselves. There is a game piece that requires the installation of a battery (included) so I had to do that for them.

The theme of Secrets of the Sea is a deep sea dive. The object of the game is to dive to the bottom of the sea and earn points along the way by collecting treasure, battling sea monsters, and earning rewards. The game seems a bit complicated at first and my boys were more interested in using the "mystery light" than listening to me read instructions. Once we played one game together, they were experts. They spent an entire afternoon playing together. Two boys playing quietly together? Unbelievable.
The best part of this game, according to Matthew and Joshua, is the mystery light. Each player begins their "dive" at the top of the game board. They roll the dice to determine how deep they can dive and then choose a tile accordingly. Once they pick a tile, they shine the mystery light on the blue surface of the tile to reveal a secret picture. In the words of my 6-year old son, it is "awesome!"
Each player takes turns diving and collecting tiles. There are rewards (treasure chests, gold, etc.) and there are even sea monsters that must be defeated. The players keep diving until they reach the shipwreck at the bottom of the game board or until all of the tiles are gone from the board. The winner of the game is determined by who has the most points, based on the tiles collected.

Secrets of the Sea is a unique board game because of the very cool mystery light. The concept of the game is easy to grasp and appealing to school-age children. The game is intended for children ages 5 and up. I have to admit, I even enjoyed it myself! Up to 4 players can play together, but only 2 are required. This makes it a perfect "quiet time" game for the big kids while I'm taking care of the little kids.

I think Secrets of the Sea even appeals to children who don't typically like board games because the mystery light makes even more interesting than the usual roll-dice-move-peg type games. I love to give (and receive!) board games as Christmas gifts and this is one that I would definitely recommend. My 6-year old and 5-year old loved this game and ebeanstalk has a large selection of 5 year old toys and games. Check out ebeanstalk for more educational toys and games for all ages.

I was given the Secrets of the Sea game in exchange for offering an honest review for ebeanstalk. No other compensation was received.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dad's Wooden Toys

I've been meaning to write about the great baby teethers that I purchased from Dad's Wooden Toys. I found out about this shop because the toys are made by a father of twins. All of the toys in his Etsy shop are plain wood with no chemicals, dyes, or toxic finishes. I love that the toys leave so much to the imagination and are safe even for young infants!

I bought Nathan & Ryan each a pair of teethers. It was hard to choose which ones to get but in the end I picked the turtle, car, snail, and frog. Each teether has soft, rounded edges and they are very easy for even the tiniest fingers to grasp. An added bonus-those razor sharp first teeth can sink into the soft wood instead of my arm!

The toys from Dad's Wooden Toys are high-quality and I love the fact that they are handmade and not mass-produced in a factory. I'd rather support a family like mine than some faceless corporation. Basically, these are toys I can feel good about and I can feel safe giving them to my children as well.
Besides wooden teethers, Dad's Wooden Toys also offers adorable wooden animals and figurines, heirloom oak building blocks, and interchangeable puzzle piece animal sets. There are toys for children of all ages. I know I'll be buying some of the animals for my children this Christmas. You are never to old for some great imaginative play!


I did not receive any compensation for this review. I just loved the products so much that I wanted to share!