Friday, November 19, 2010

Kids' Wish List

Today I was going to post a wish list for kids' products. I decided to let the kids help with this by writing about what they are thankful for. You can check out my motivation over on The Traveling Circus today. Check back Monday for shopping ideas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Thankful Holiday Wish List

At this time of year a lot of people put out holiday wish lists. We did it over at Chic Critique and I've seen countless ones go up in the last few days. Here, I decided in the spirit of Thanks, instead of wishes I'd write an I'm glad I have it list. Just for the sake of truth, I either bought or was handed down all but one of the items below so as always these opinions are mine and not influenced in any way.
Here we go:
The Traveling Circus Reviews' I love it so Much You Will Too Holiday List 2010
  1. Hamilton Beach Brew Station Coffee Maker: I went in search of a thermal coffee pot again after breaking my fourth glass carafe. I figured thermal would be more cost effective than continuing to replace glass. When my shopping partner and I stumbled on this, we fell in love with the idea of a fresh cup of coffee at any time of day. The coffee is hot for The Husband who leaves the house when it's still dark and for me when I finally get to coffee (usually 10 in the morning) after shuttling to and fro. Genius! And at a price that's cheaper than most thermal versions, it's a two-fer! 
  2. Breadman Breadmaker: Now this was a hand me down from my sister so there are fancier versions available but I have to say mine does the trick. If you've read The Traveling Circus lately you are familiar with my love affair with freshly baked bread. I couldn't do it without my Breadman.
  3. Barnes and Noble NOOK E-Reader: I know, I know. A year ago I went on a tirade when my husband asked for a Kindle. I was all, "the crack of the spine, the smell of the memories, the feel of the paper between my fingers, blah, blah, blah." Then I had to travel to California right at the time I was about to start a 500+ page book. The thought of carrying that thing through security, or even worse, having to pay extra because it weighed down my checked luggage was enough to compel me to the book store. You'll notice I'm using Amazon links for most of my list and I will say my husband loves his Kindle. But I'm a sucker for the Barnes and Noble's Marketing and thus, their product.  (It didn't hurt that they were the cheapest at the time either.) They aimed their ads at people like me-readers who love the book almost as much as the story. The didn't go after techies but instead to those of us who want our book friends with us everywhere. They sold me and now I can't imagine my life without my Nook. I still browse bookstores for hours on end, but then I go home and download my picks for half the cost and without the worry of where to store or donate them when I'm finished. And of course, it's so much easier to read in bed than a 20 pound novel!
  4. Leggings: I mean what is there to say? I get to dress like I wish I could (in sweatpants) and still be fashionable. I love my Simply Vera version from Khols. For $20 they are the perfect length and weight. Throw them on with a long sweater and riding boots and you're the hippest and most comfortable mom at pickup.
  5. MyTouch 3G: This one I have to tell you I didn't buy. I won this phone from TMobile, but I was already a TMobile Customer and previously purchased the G1 Phone which I was also mildly obsessed with. I have tried just about every phone short of iPhone and this one is my favorite because it does everything. I have all my contacts that I already have in Google. The data is all saved on that server, so I never lose my stuff even when I upgrade phones. I can also link my emails, (both gmail and Yahoo!) my calendar and there are apps for tracking my food intake, exercise, budget, coupons and grocery lists as well as music for me and games to keep the kids occupied during doctor's appointments. And of course, I have access to Twitter 24 hours a day! It's amazing. It acts like a computer in all ways except the obnoxious freezing and shutting down. It rivals the bread maker for the love of my life.
There you go-products I love that you should wish for! Tomorrow I'll do a kid version so check back to update those holiday shopping lists. I listed links here for you to check products out, but I will say don't forget FreeCycle, ebay Classifieds and Craigslist as places to look first. Because, for every one of me that loves these things, there are at least 5 people who are ready to get rid of theirs. You'll save yourself some dough and save the earth from one more Breadman in the landfill! 
Happy Holidays!

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    "My Mickey Mote"

    The one drawback to having three kids is that the youngest ends up growing up too fast. When his brother and sister moved from preschool shows to "big kid" shows, so did he. As much as I tried to encourage age appropriate viewing, he wanted what his siblings wanted-because that's what he thought was cool.  I have to admit that I started to miss Mickey, Manny and Quincy around here when they were replaced with Hannah, Phineus and Ferb.
    So it was with great delight that I welcomed the Mickey Mote into our home. According to the literature I received with it, the Mickey Mote is, "a one-of-a-kind, child friendly hand held remote control, shaped like Mickey ears, that provides children with an engaging interaction with their favorite Disney Preschool DVDs."
    According to my preschooler it's, "cool and super good."
    According to me, it's the magic that brought back Mickey and Manny.
    The Mickey Mote works with (and will be available for purchase with) certain Disney DVDs in Discovery Mode. It is basically a tactile way for your kids to engage with the shows they may already love to be engaged with. Instead of just yelling answers at the television, they get to feel like the are making the choices right there with Mickey and Manny. When Mickey needs to count or Manny needs to choose a tool, your kid gets to choose the answer using the Mickey Mote. It's pretty great for them to feel connected and for my little guy he gets to be the cool one in the house. In fact, his older siblings have been begging for days to share the Mickey Mote. It seems when there is a remote involved, they forget they're watching "baby shows" and we've had a house full of Playhouse Disney for days.
    Welcome back old friends. Thanks Mickey Mote.
    *For more information or to see a video trailer of the Mickey Mote, click here.

    Here's the preschooler-in his own words. I tried to film him using the Mickey Mote, but he was so mesmerized it didn't make for very entertaining video.:)

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Kid Fresh gets the Kid Test

    My kids beg for frozen meals all the time. They never get them. When I have a sitter, I rely on chicken nuggets or Annie's mac & cheese and frozen broccoli as my go to meals. There is too much sugar and salt and quite frankly many other ingredients I don't recognize in those frozen selections. Until now when Kid Fresh hits the scene as a brand that's trying to change all that. The meals have very few ingredients and all are natural and recognizable! They are also made in BPA and Phalate free bowls so no fear of toxic- microwaving. Of course the packaging is eco-friendly recyclable cardboard.  I have to admit natural and frozen sometimes means gross, so while I was pleased at the efforts, I was skeptical about taste. I decided to put the meals to the true test: my kids. The following is the edited version of our taste tests which were fun and lasted way longer than three minutes. There aren't a ton of choices for meals so far and some that are available could just as easily be made in  your own kitchen probably as quickly as in your microwave. But I will say for when you're in a super hurry or not home at all these seem near perfect. Add that to the novelty  of a frozen meal for my kids and Kid Fresh suddenly becomes even more desirable. If I could suggest one thing-I'd sell bags of their frozen meatballs. They tasted great and I've never seen a frozen meatball with so few ingredients.
    Overall, Kid Fresh gets a thumbs up from some pretty tough testers.:)Check out their website to find out where you can get your own Kid Fresh meals.I'd love to hear what your kids think!

    * I was provided with coupons for free Kid Fresh meals in exchange for this taste test however everything said by my kids and I is an honest assessment of the product. 

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Muffin Top Secrets

    Gap at ShopStyle
    I think the hardest part (ok maybe not the hardest but you know what I mean) to being a mom is the fashion part. I haven't forgotten who I was, someone with style. Before kids I used to love to shop and I used to love to dress. It has become more and more of a hassle these days because my body doesn't look like what I need it to in order to pull off the fashion that I love. Well, enter the tunic top. Thank goodness for this new little work horse because it has saved me at many an event. My uniform of late is an assortment of these loose waisted numbers with skinny jeans, black pants or leggings and boots. I can look fashion forward and still hide the years of wear and tear. 
    The key to tunics is that you need tops that are loose through the middle to cover the result of your sins (in my case babies and beer) but not too loose that you just look twenty pounds heavier. Also, you have to be wary of the empire waist because if you've ever worn maternity tops you never want to go back.
    Up top is one of my favorites from the Gap. It's reasonable priced and can be dressed up or dressed down. There are tons more at Shopstyle-more than I could pick to show you actually. So just click above to see the multitude of offerings that compose the wonder of the muffin covering tunic.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Netflix for Kids' Books with a discount to boot!

    We love the library around here. We go pretty often and each kid gets to check out whatever they want and everyone leaves happy. What I don't love are the times when I rack up $40 in fees because I didn't know the movies were due earlier than the books or when the system says a book is out and I am CERTAIN I returned it. Also, two weeks is never enough time and I almost always forget to renew.
    Enter Book Pig-a netflix like program for kids books. I haven't tried it yet because I just heard about it yesterday. Savvy Source is offering a huge discount on memberships that I intend to take full advantage of.
    If you're unfamiliar with this type of service, I'll tell you that each kid can get their own queue of books (that's list for all of you non-British folks) and then they get a shipment every month delivered to your door with a paid return shipping option.
    No late fees. No racing to the drop off box in the pouring rain. No renewal stress and the kids get mail! What more could a family need.
    Book Pig offers various price options starting at $11.95/month for five books and topping off at $32.95 for 18 books a month.  The Savvy Source listed price is $19 and it gives you a $50 coupon to use toward any subscription. The coupon must be used by April 15, 2011. You should also know the Savvy Source/Savvy Savings program offers 5% of its proceeds to scholarships for kids to attend preschool and you can get further discounts by referring your friends to the deals. Please read more about it here. You get a deal and you give back. That's my kind of savings. The deal is a group deal so a certain number of people need to sign up in order to get the discount.  I'm going to. Hope you will too. Just go here to sign up: The Savvy Source Deals

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    A Dream Vacay-They Don't Call it Dreaming for Nothin'

    Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine, Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.

    I love travel. I don't just mean vacations, (Who doesn't love those?) I mean actual travel. I love planes and cars and trains and boats. There isn't a trip tic I've met that I haven't loved. My favorite part is simply the experience of living somewhere else for a bit. This is evidenced by the fact that I never have too many plans for when I get somewhere. I plan like crazy for the departure. There are packing lists and snack bags, reading and (of course!) music downloaded  and outfits and toiletries sorted and packed for five people. During prep time, I am a Ellie Efficient but then I usually just head off and figure out what to do with my days when I get where I'm going. I've taught my kids the same thing. Wherever we've been, we just are. For however long we stay somewhere we live as natives until it's time to pack and go home. We've never had a trip that we didn't love, so it must be working so far.
    Because I love travel so much, it's hard to name just one dream vacation. When asked, my first thought is a trip to Italy with my husband but that is mostly because we spend so little time together that the word vacation immediately brings up visions of alone time on a romantic canal sipping red wine. But just as quickly I think of taking my kids to Disney or showing them Spain or experiencing Australia with them and that, I think is really the dream. Then I realize there is a trip that keeps coming up. The Trailer Trip. I have such a burning desire to have my kids meet my cousins' kids that I have it all worked out. We'll hop in our rented mobile home in Jersey and warm up with a stop in PA for an Austin and Joe family BBQ. Next we'll  visit Aunt Mimi in Ohio. From there we'll hit the open road and stop in as many Mel's Diners as we can on the way to Minnesota for Jannell and Tracy and their crew. We'll head west to northern California where we'll hang with the Bakers who either live there or have made the trek from L.A. to join us in a game of pool at Helen's humble beach palace while Faith and Ava fall in love and share a girl crush on cousin Jacqui.  Dan and Griff of course will hang with Jesse and Jack either tearing up the house and yard as only boys can do or maybe even surf  a while. After all, they're- each one- a coastal kid. We'll visit my mom's childhood house and and hopefully get some history from Aunt Jan and Uncle Jack.
    The leaving is the worst part but leave we must because finally we'll hit the gas on up through Canada and over to our last stop-the wilds of Wasilla where my three finally get to hang with Roxie's two. If she can convince her brother to visit we'll get his four as well. We may rest in Alaska a while. By then the drive might have done me in and who knows, I might just want to see Russia from her house.
    I guess it's clear to me now, my dream family vacation only needs one thing: family. The more that I can get in to one trip the better. It's the family that makes the vacation a dream. 

    Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.