Thursday, September 15, 2016

Toddler/Preschooler Christmas wish list (technology free)

I don't know about you, but sometimes it's hard to answer the question "what does (insert your kid(s) name here) want for Christmas???"! I'm sure there are lots of things they "want", but a lot of that stuff is just junk that piles up! I want to buy practical items my kids will actually use, not just be excited about in the moment and discard later, or said item fall apart 10 seconds after using it.
I also have became a bit anti-technology for least until they hit school age. (that is a whole other article and subject I could get rolling on about, but I will digress). You won't find any tablets, i-phones, or leappads in this post!

So, without further rambling, here is my suggestions for a magical and useful gift giving season.

There are Amazon affiliate links in this article.

1. TOMY Little Chirpers
These may look like a mess waiting to happen to you, but trust me, they are awesome.  The bottoms of these eggs have shapes on them and your toddler will need to match it to the same shape on the carton. My twins love these! They loved just putting the tops on and squeaking the eggs at first, but have gotten into sorting the shapes and telling The colors of each chick. 

2.  Skoolzy Peg Board set 
Ok, I know...small pieces...mess.... Bear with me here. These are phenomenal learning toys; stacking, coloring sorting, counting, hand-eye coordination, etc. Bonus points for me, multiple kids can use at the same time. Mine came with a bag to put them in, which helps us keep it all together! 

3. Radio Flyer Red Rider Trike
This has to be the epitome of toddler-hood right?!?!? This is a perfect under the tree gift-if you catch my drift. These bad boys are extremely durable and are a great grow into toy.

4.  Dear Zoo-Lift the Flap Book
This is a classic that children still love. I'm a firm believer in the philosophy of one can never have too many books.  

I also suggest picking up The Polar Express and reading it every year as a family tradition. Also, I'm not sure about other areas, but I know North Carolina and Tennessee have some Polar Express Train rides you can enjoy. It's a great time. 

5.  Leap Frog Count Along Cash Register
This is so cute and fun, but it also teaches a good deal. My girls love the songs. (They may drive you, the parent, nuts though) They love playing with the Cash Register and their play kitchen (see below) together. They pretend to go to the store. It's cute. 

If you happen to be feeling extremely brave and want to teach the money values this is a great set! (Suggest for preschool age) 

6. Little Tikes Super Chef Kitchen
I don't know about you, but I did not want a ginormous play kitchen. This was a happy medium for our family. It does make cooking sounds when turned on.  This is also another great under the tree (HO HO HO) gift. 

I would suggest buying a play food set as well, as this only comes with a few dishes.

Also, do yourself a favor and pick-up something to store this in. The food will be EVERYWHERE if you do not!

7. Train Table + Trains
Some of you with girls might be thinking, nah....but, most of the girls I know really enjoy playing trains. They may not become obsessed  with the show and characters the way my oldest son did, but they do like them. My girls love loading the freight cars with treasures and making the trains crash. They also make wooden Cars and tractors that work on these tracks!  We have also used the table for Legos and put away the train stuff when we need a change. 


8. Step2 playhouse
This is the exact one that my twins have. I really like it because it is large enough that both my girls (and sometimes my 9 year old) can fit in there! We use it outside on our deck, but if would be great in a gameroom as well....we have just ran out of room!! My girls love "painting" their house and washing it when it's warm. And, they like to play house with their stuffed animals in there as well. It's been well worth the money. 

9.  Step2 Art Easel + paints 
I chose this particular easel because it is double sided and has clips on both sides, so my girls can be painting/drawing at the same time. It also has good size trays to hold paint, chalk, brushes, etc. in. Also, it has a magnetic expo board on one side and a chalk board on the other.  When purchasing, do not forget to buy the extra paint because this does not include any art supplies. 

10. B Dr. Doctor 
This is a great kit, especially if you're not into the McStuffins variety! Do yourself a favor and hide the play scissors though!!!  

(Bonus)11. Fisher Price Think & Learn Caterpillar
This is the one item we do not personally have, but I think it's going to be a huge hit! The only complaint I have noticed is it needs more of the pieces....but, Fisher Price does sell the expansion packs.  

Hopefully, this list helped you out! Any must-have toys I forgot?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Court of Thorns and Roses Review

I wanted to love this book.... I mean, I seriously wanted to have the mother of all gush fests! This book (s) have such a strong following, so many people just eat them up.

For me, unfortunately, the beginning is so darn slow, it took forever to get to the "story". I didn't really get caught up until somewhere after chapter 16. With that being said, when I did get invested, I was HOOKED! Like, can't put it down hooked!
I haven't always had the best of luck with retellings-this is a lose retelling of "Beauty and the Beast"- but, I like the subtle throwbacks to it.

Brief Synopsis:
Feyre's village is poor, she has resorted to hunting to keep her family fed, selling the furs for little money. One day she is hunting and spots a deer, as she is going for the shot, she notices a wolf. She is undecided, kill or not; fairy or not. She goes for it. She kills it. After this, a whirlwind of events happen that result her into going into a new world, a fairy world. She is to live with Tamlin, a hard, cold fairy. But, at times, his humanity shines through. Something seems to shift. There is something wicked brewing throughout the and, and Feyre ends up in the middle of it. She is needed. Her task is simple, save this fairy world and her own human one.

Spoilers from here on:

I liked Tamlin, pretty much instantly, Feyre was kind of whiny and bratty to me. I understand she was not happy about leaving her family behind, but Tamlin took very good care of them and told her so. He was very good to her, she was treated like a royal guest instead of a captive. I guess I wish she had let him in sooner. Amarantha was one freaky, mean-a$$ chick. Feyre was so brave when it came to her "challenges". I think i would have just died from fear (Is that possible?!?!!? LOL)
I have a feeling Rhysand is going to become a very important a point, I wonder if he will become a love interest?!?!?!?!? Feyre clearly has some sort of feeling for him...not sure what exactly they are, but there is something there.
I am also curious if any of her sisters will cross over into the fairy world? Or will Alis end up going to the human world?? I just feel like we are headed for some sort of fairy-human world mash up.

At the end of the day, I would like to read the next book, but I'm not just chomping at the bit either. I wonder if this is one of those series' that the books just get better as we progress????
And, please try this one out! I am clearly in the minority, most readers seem to be REALLY into this!!!!

3.75 stars for me.

This review contains Amazon Affiliate links:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

DIY Faux Cotton Stems

DIY Faux Cotton Stems

Materials need:
  • Large cotton ball
  • Pine-cones
  • Tree Branches
  • Glue gun
  • Glue Sticks

Most of us will find some cottons balls in a bathroom drawer or under the sink. For the tree branches; I just took a walk around my yard and picked-up a few branches that had fallen out of my trees.  You will need a branch with many branches on it. You will have more cotton stems with the branches that branch out. I have some from oaks, pines and maple trees.  You only need 2 or 3 pine-cones. If you do not have trees; you can us faux flower stems. 


 I stretched some of the cotton balls out a little flat and some I formed a little nest. Apply a dollop of glue to the middle of the cotton ball. Also, I found that if you cover the top of the stem with cotton ball it’s much easier. Just press down around the stem very carefully so as not to burn your fingers from the hot glue. (I now have bandages on a couple of fingers.)

Next, apply hot glue to the outside of the pine cone scale that you have removed from the cone, the pieces will need to curl around the cotton balls. Again, be very careful that the hot glue doesn’t burn your fingers while pressing to the cotton ball. When applying to the cotton, make sure to secure it at the base where the cotton meets the branch. You will need three pieces of the cone for each cotton ball.

You may also pull the cotton ball in half if they are too close together on the branch. By doing this, you will end up with different size cotton balls which will look more natural.

I hope you enjoy making these cotton stems as much as we did. SUPER easy project… you just need to be SUPER careful with the hot glue. We would love to see photos of your finished project.