Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: Superman Costumes at Costume Discounters

Pros: Fast service, nice quality costume, true to size, good value.

Cons:  This costume is so neat that now the little brother wants one too! :)

Summary: If you are looking for nice quality costumes in any size with lots of accessories to choose from, check out Costume Discounters!

My son chose this costume because his little sister begged him to; she wants him to wear it when she wears her Supergirl costume!  What a good big brother he is!

Our Deluxe Light-Up Superman costume came in the mail today, only three business days after we ordered it from Costume Discounters! Although the package was very small and light-weight, the costume seems very well made.  This Man of Steel costume includes the one piece body suit (including huge muscles) and a detachable cape.  The Superman emblem on the front of the costume lights up, which my kids thought was really cool! :)

The length and fit of the costume seemed true to the sizing chart offered on the site.  Since K usually wears slims, the costume fits over clothes, which is better on a cool fall day anyway. 

Another great feature about this company: Costume Discounters guarantees the lowest price on the web, or they will match the price and also give you 20% off. They also offer free shipping on exchanges, allowing you to try their costumes risk free!

Disclosure: We received the Superman Costume mentioned above  for  review. The opinions we have expressed are honest opinions and have not been influenced by the companies providing the product. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Time4Writing Review: Extreme Paragraphs

Pros: Small time commitment,personally coached by individual teacher, simple way to develop practical skills

Cons: Small icons were at first confusing to navigate after logging in, would love to see more teaching videos, animations to teach writing concepts, or interactive lessons like Time4Learning.

Summary: Overall a great little course with lots of helpful writing tools. My daughter was able to finish with minimal time commitment. Writing teacher was helpful and kind. She usually graded assignments within a 24 hours. Instructions were simple to follow and explained well. I feel that my daughter learned some useful information and had fun using her imagination to write paragraphs.

Full Review: After reading the parent info on the site, we decided that the "Extreme Paragraph" course looked like the right level for our 8 year old. J started off her writing course introducing herself to her teacher Mrs. Jennifer. The course began slowly with exercises and assignments to practice writing all the parts of a paragraph, beginning with topic sentences. 

Each lesson began with a short video clip that explained the concept that she would be learning. Then practice activities and quizzes came before the assignment. After completing her assignments, J's kind writing teacher, Mrs. Jennifer graded her writing and left a grade and helpful feedback to either correct the assignment, or to move on to the next lesson.

J seemed to fly through the lessons and quizzes with ease, but took a lot longer finishing the writing assignments. Once she was finished she was proud of her accomplishment and very excited to get feedback from Mrs. Jennifer.

Overall we thought the course had a lot of useful writing tools and clear instructions. My daughter learned some useful information and had fun using her imagination to write paragraphs. She seems a little more confident and has even expressed an interest in writing a book someday. :)  At the end of the course, J earned an Extreme Paragraph writing certificate. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

About Time4Writing...

My third grade writer is now more than half way through her "Extreme Paragraphs" course on Time4Writing! So far she likes it and has been able to fly through and stay on track even though we took a few days off while we were out of town. Her kind teacher, Mrs. Jennifer,  has offered good feedback to help J write the best paragraphs.  So far she's practiced writing topic sentences, supporting details, and  closing sentences. She has also learned about using good sentence structure, transition words and adjectives.  Her favorite thing to do is write stories from her imagination. Stay tuned for the full review as soon as she's finished!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Teaching your kids to ride a bike...the easy (and cheap) way.

So after having tried all kinds of methods and after many tears and crashes, training wheels, no training wheels, running with little biker,etc...we've finally learned the secret! 

I was recently searching on line for the best ways to teach children to ride on two wheels and learned that bikes with no pedals, which are often quite pricey, work amazingly well. My hubby also heard that the best way to teach adults and kids with special needs is to just take all the pedals and training wheels off. 

We had kids "bike" by pushing with their feet in big "walking on the moon" steps. We made it a game to see how long they could balance without touching their feet to the ground. A few short weeks of practicing and they were balancing for about 10-20 seconds without touching the ground.
We put the pedals back on, and just like magic they all took off riding!

*Note:When removing the pedals, the left pedal is usually threaded differently than the right pedal to avoid unintentional unscrewing during riding. The LEFT pedal is RIGHTY-LOOSEY (clockwise), LEFTY-TIGHTY (counter-clockwise). 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Coming Soon: A Review of Time4Writing

We will be using Time4Writing as a summer writing program for the next couple of months.  We are excited to get started with the interactive lessons.  Our online tutor will correct our work and give us writing tips on how to sharpen our writing skills.  Come visit in a few weeks to see how we like it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: Time4Learning

  • Fun lessons cover lots of material in small amounts of time. 
  • Animations, colorful graphics, and interactive funny dialog keep kids engaged. 
  • Clear explanations and feedback for right and wrong answers. 
  • Parent access to quizes and grades, easily printed for record keeping.  
  • Clutter free schoolwork, great for big families or small living spaces.  

  • Using Time4Learning on a tablet is a little tricky and can be slow.  
  • Parental controls do not include the ability to digitally assign specific lessons or assignments.

If you are a busy parent and looking for an effective educational tool that your children will love to use either as a curriculum, supplement, or tutoring alternative for preschool through 12th grade...Time4Learning is a excellent resource!  

Try it:  

There are many things to love about time4learning...but I will keep it simple and just name a few.

1. Effective teaching tool
Time4Learning is both fun and really great at teaching concepts and skills to a large spectrum of learning styles.  The lessons are very well written and designed to help children learn and retain the material. We were pleased with how well our kids did on standardized tests this year.

2. Makes life easier
I don't know about you...but as a homeschooling mama of four, it's hard to juggle everyone's schedule some days. This program is kid and parent user friendly and keeps track of where everyone is at. If a subject comes easy for your child, they can fly through...if its more difficult, they can watch the lesson again until they get the concepts.  Work that is finished and graded for you is easily printable for record keeping and reporting.

3. Stuff Free!
Having had a child in public school, I was amazed at the volume of paper that came through the door! It was a constant battle to stay on top of it all and I found myself having to recycle 99% of it to reclaim the space it took up in our house!  Although Time4Learning has optional printable supplements to go with lessons, the work is almost completely digital. It is an ideal curriculum for families living in small spaces as it eliminates the need for many text books. It's also great for traveling as all you need is a computer (or tablet) and an Internet connection. 

Overall we really love this program (we have been using it for years) and we are excited that Time4Learning is launching their new high school program this fall! We hope Time4Learning will become more iPad friendly in the future.  

Disclosure: The opinions we have expressed are honest opinions and have not been influenced by Time4Learning. Compensation was received for this review.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Make your own ketchup

When I use to teach preschool, as far as the kids were concerned, there were the 4 basic food groups...and one of them had to be ketchup! We decided to make homemade ketchup and we really liked it! No chemicals or corn syrup like the store bought brands and the kids still love it! :)

Ketchup Recipe

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic

Blend all ingredients together well and pour into empty ketchup bottle and refrigerate.  :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: Pajaminals Storybook Nap Mat and Cowbella plush toy

We received a Pajaminals storybook nap mat and a Cowbella plush animal for review. 

Pros: Fun, colorful, foldable mat for naptime, great for sending to daycare or preschool to use on top of cots, with babysitter, or to keep at Grandma's. Super soft, cuddly characters that encourage happy napping are always a plus!

Cons: The "storybook pillow" may at first be a bit exciting to "read" when trying to go to sleep. :)

Summary: If you are looking for a great cot-liner or sleeping mat for the babysitter or to keep at Grandma's, this is a great naptime product to have on hand!

Purchase: In most department stores and online. Prices vary.

Full Review:
If you haven't seen the new Jim Henson show called "Pajaminals" aimed at toddlers-preschoolers yet, it is showing on Sprout and NBC Saturday mornings. This show focuses on promoting preschool skills to help their days run smoothly. As a parent, foster parent, and teacher I can especially appreciate the part where they teach healthy sleep and naptime habits!

Along with this show, there is a new line of Pajaminal toys and products.

We loved the snuggle up story mat. It is made with premium fleece material and includes a plush book (all attached) that transforms to a pillow at the top.  Kids can use their imagination to tell stories about the pictures which could help with transitioning from play time to sleepy time. 

A soft blanket is attached at the side of the mat with colorful characters printed all over it. This mat is sized perfectly to fit on top of a nap cot or to use on the floor at babysitters house or at grandma's. The mat folds and velcros shut for easy storage. It is sized for a preschooler up to about age 5.

There is also a collection of Pajanimals plush toys (in 2 sizes) includes the characters: Apollo, Squacky, Cowbella and Sweet Pea Sue inspired by the TV series. We received Cowbella, who is made of soft fleecy fabric that is trimmed with silky ribbons.  These would make a great birthday presents for toddlers or preschoolers!
Disclosure: We received the  Pajaminals storybook nap mat and a Cowbella plush animal  to  review. The opinions we have expressed are honest opinions and have not been influenced by the companies providing the product. No other compensation was received.

Monday, April 1, 2013

JourneyBee Travel Crib Review and Coupon Code

Pros: Very light weight, quick pop-up assembly, folds flat for easy storage or transport.

Cons: Does not come with a bassinet/changing table feature that some travel cribs include.

Summary: If you are looking for a great travel crib that is soooo easy to set up, is lightweight, stores and travels easily ...JourneyBee is the way to go! This would be a great item to keep at Grandma's house or to have on hand for visiting guests with babies and toddlers!

Purchase it at and use coupon code: H5ezWmQ6 to get 10% off your purchase!

Full Review:
Okay, there are quite a few great things to say about this product! It arrived in a zippered storage bag with a shoulder strap and 2 smaller handles. The bag also contains a front zippered compartment which would be convenient to store toys, blankets or diapers in..

Take out the travel crib and it will gently pop open with no tricky assembly, and no trouble getting it to stay open. The mattress pad easily slides into a pocket at the base of the crib to make the bed cushiony. The JourneyBee comes with a soft fleecy sheet that attaches and lines the inside of the crib and can be removed and washed easily. Assembling and breaking down this crib was so easy it reminds me of the pop-up play tents and tunnels my kids have. This crib folds so flat that it could be stored under a bed or behind a couch.

Thinking back on the other travel cribs we have owned, I'm sure that they weighed at least twice as much as this one, were tricky and took a significant amount of time to set up and break down, and were annoying to store and travel with.

Below is a video of the first time we set up and broke down the crib...we didn't even have to read the directions... :)
The only feature I miss with this travel crib is an adjustable bassinet/ changing table feature that some travel cribs have.. However, the detachable mattress part of the crib could be easily used as a changing mat.

Overall we loved this product!

Find more info about this travel crib at or follow them on Facebook or on Twitter.

Disclosure: We received a JourneyBee travel crib  to  review. The opinions we have expressed are honest opinions and have not been influenced by the companies providing the product. No other compensation was received.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Coming soon: Journey Bee Review and Coupon Code!

Be watching for an upcoming review of JourneyBee- a brand new pop-open portable travel crib created by ParentLab!

In the mean time, head over to the The ParentLab site and check them out..  You can use the coupon code: H5ezWmQ6 to get 10% off of your purchase!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Meaningful Easter Gift

I've been on the look out for meaningful gifts and activities to do on Easter... To be honest, I'm really tired of the typical Easter basket fillers, and I'm overwhelmed at the colossal amount of candy and junk that goes through our house all the time! In the process, I found this lovely little book:

The Jesus Storybook: Every Story Whispers His Name...  The wording in this little book is so beautifully written and I love the way the heart of the story shines through in such a kid friendly way! I chose the deluxe edition which comes with 3 audio cd's of the entire book which is so pleasantly spoken.

Here is an example:

I'm looking forward to listening to this on long car rides, putting it on my kids mp3 players, and playing it at bedtime when my little people are falling asleep!
Disclosure: The opinions we have expressed are honest opinions and have not been influenced by the companies of the product. No compensation was received.

Monday, March 18, 2013

New ChicoBag and Coupon Code

Check out the new sidekick Cross Body Tote by ChicoBag!  You can get 10% off your purchase ordered by by using the coupon code: SIDEKICK
Coupon offer is good till 4/15/13