Wednesday, October 26, 2011

my first hands-on bible (review)

when you have kids who range in age from 9 to 19 months, it can be a little hard to find appropriate material for a family devotional time.

we spent the last few months memorizing various bits of scripture, but we also want to make sure that everyone gets a broad understanding of the bible as a whole.  i don't want my kids to grow up without knowing the various stories that are a significant part of the bible.

when i learned about my first hands-on bible, by tyndale ($16.99), i was curious how a bible designed for preschool age children would work with my older kids.  as you can see from the video, so far it has been a really big hit.

each story contains passages taken right from the new living translation of the bible.  throughout the story, there are "hand-on" moments where kids can act out part of the story, count items in a picture or engage in some other activity to help them stay focused on the story.  zoe (age 9) can tell when i skip over some of the more disruptive activities (i don't really want all the kids to get up from the table because i fear i will never get them back), and she asks if we can do all the activities every night!

at the end of the story, there are additional suggestions for crafts and activities.  we haven't done too much with this because we have enough going on right now with homework, but i could see the kids being interested in these activities during the summer when we have less to worry about.

each story comes with a "Jesus connection" that helps relate the story to what Jesus came to do for us.  i have been just a little disappointed with some of the connections that have been made here.  i recognize this bible is geared for kids in preschool but the connections are really simplistic and, occasionally, almost seem un-biblical to me.

in spite of this weakness, our whole family is enjoying this bible.  it has provided good structure for our time together as a family.  hopefully someone is learning something!  check out our experience:

i received a free copy of this bible from tyndale through mamabuzz media for the purpose of this review. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

member's mark 4x probiotic challenge

every day, at exactly the same time, nap time (of course), tate comes to find me and tell me, "i ha' go poo-poo." like clockwork, this kid.

while i find it just a little bit annoying that i can guarantee that my time to myself will be interrupted every single day, if the truth be told, i'm a little bit envious. without getting too personal, i would love to have the regularity that tate demonstrates.

to that end, i'm taking a little challenge. i'm giving member's mark 4x probiotics a try for the next two weeks. i've heard a lot about the benefits of probiotics and i've finally decided to try them out for myself and see what happens.

this challenge meant i needed to take a little shopping trip to sam's club, which for me is as much a treat as trick-or-treating is for the kids. first stop was some napkins. i was a little overwhelmed by the selection at first...thankfully lilianna was along to help me out. first we discovered the restaurant style napkins, which seemed a little fancier than what i was going for (plus i was surprised at the price. i think i would be stingier with the napkins if i ran a restaurant).

thankfully i quickly found this more affordable option across the aisle. you can see that lilianna is triumphant at our discovery.

of course, you can't go to sam's club without getting the megabox of cheerios. we go through these, we go through them really quickly at our house. i'm seriously thinking of investing in the company.
i wish sam's club were a little bit closer because i love to buy milk here.  for one thing, i think the milk jugs are so cool.  why can't all milk companies come up with this cool design for their milk jugs?

i was thankful to find the 4x probiotics so quickly and easily.  as you can see, they are in with other otc types of medicines and digestive aids.  each box comes with two packages of the probiotics (42 caplets in each), which translates to a 12 week supply total.

the member's mark version can be compared with "align," which you can see is more than 3 times the price. 
i have no idea how this is going to act in my system, but at this point, i'm willing to give anything a try.  i will let you know what happens in about two weeks.
this is the point that lilianna decided to get really crabby--even though i told her we were picking out some bread for her yummy pb&j.  some kids are just so ungrateful.

this is a compensated post as part of a social shopper insights study for collective bias and mamabzz.  the experience however is purely my own and my thoughts and opinions expressed here and in two weeks will remain my own.

chicago toy and game fair (giveaway and winners)

october is nearly over.  perhaps you are wondering how you will handle the post-halloween letdown at your house.

maybe you are an early bird, and you are already conscious that there are only a limited number of weeks until christmas (i like to finish my shopping the week of christmas, so i have no idea how many weeks are left).

either way, there is no better place to move on from halloween and look forward to christmas than the chicago toy and game fair, on november 19 and 20 at chicago's navy pier.  your christmas list will not be the same once you have attended the fair and tried all the latest and greatest toys and games for yourself.

don't forget that i have a discount here:

i am also giving away a family pass each week leading up to the big event. leave me a comment below telling me one thing that you hope santa will bring you this year! i will choose another winner on monday, october 31. last week's winner is...susan! i hope you get lots of great christmas ideas! also, the winner of the circus giveaway is...the csoras! they were the only ones who entered so that made it very, very easy! congratulations everyone! my family has received a free pass to the event, as well as passes to give away, but we had so much fun last year, we can't wait to get back this year. the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

goodnight moon, the musical!

one of my favorite books to read is goodnight moon by margaret wise brown.  you can imagine, then, how excited i was to learn that the chicago children's theatre had turned the book into a musical. 

if you recall, i attended another play at the chicago children's theatre in the spring, and it was a big hit with tate and lilianna.  now i am thrilled to be attending this play with lilianna, tate and tessa. 

i love to give as much "culture" as i can to the kids as often as i can, and i love how the chicago children's theatre caters to kids without dumbing things down for them.  they provide a very kid-friendly environment, without treating the kids like they need a lot of glitz and glamor to be impressed.

as if that weren't enough, the theatre is collecting new pajamas to the pajama program, a non-profit organization that collects pajamas and books to donate to kids in the united states who are waiting or hoping to be adopted.  for every pair of pajamas collected at this production of goodnight moon, the musical, scholastic will donate an equal number of early learning books. 

the dates of the show run from october 27 through december 23, 2011.  they are also hosting "pajama parties" where kids wear their pajamas to the show and the show is followed by a milk and cookies reception.  what could be more fun?

i received four tickets to the show, along with this information from the chicago children's theatre.  regardless, the opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

if you are in the chicago area...

i thought some of you might be interested in this...

i'm going to be checking out a special 'sneak peek' with my kids the day before. they say they are offering a completely different shopping experience. this might be a fun way to check out the store for yourself...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

jim gill music play for folks of all stripes: review and giveaway

when bill and i were in school, before we had kids, i worked at a daycare to earn a little extra money so we could actually eat real food.  since we played music all day long, i really got to know the ins and outs of kid's music.  and i definitely had my favorites.

one of my personal favorites was jim gill.  he even came and performed a concert for our daycare which further solidified my appreciation.

now that i'm a parent i try to keep a lot of jim gill cds handy for those moments when only some really good music can prevent my entire crew from melting down.  i'm not sure how many times i have popped in a jim gilll cd for us to sing at the top of our lungs for the last half hour of a trip to visit our parents.  there is something about the way he encourages kids and parents alike to cut loose and enjoy the sound of music and move one's body accordingly appeals to our whole family.  

in fact, i have since learned that "jim is on a mission to get kids and parents to enjoy music and active play together. it’s so important for a child’s development – and it’s a parent sanity booster as well."  jim gill is a child development specialist, in addition to being a great musician, and you can see (and hear) the evidence of both in his cds.

we've had a copy of his new release, music play for folks of all stripes, in our van for the last two weeks, and the songs are a hit with lilianna (19 months) who loves to clap along, all the way up to zoe (9 year) who is intrigued by the different instruments she hears as well as the renditions of some of the more classical pieces.  time and again, i hear a little voice from the back (tate or tessa) asking me to "turn it up" so they can sing along even more loudly.

music play for folks of all stripes comes with a dvd of jim gill playing his songs for a group of kids with their moms and dads.  tate was interested in a short time in watching the kids move to the music with their parents, but lilianna was absolutely entranced.  i have yet to find an affordable "music in motion" or kindermusik class for us to participate in, but i think this dvd can fill the gap for us in the meantime.  each song encourages simple actions or movements that are just perfect for lilianna and i to do together.

i highly recommend this cd, as well as any of jim gill's other cds.  they provide a great music and preschool education as well as promoting movement and encouraging silliness.

if you are in the area, jim gill will also be performing a wide variety of free concerts to celebrate the release of this album.  each concert is kid-friendly because he insists that everyone clap-along and/or sing-along while actively participating with the music.  you can check out the various tour dates (including a performance at our favorite bookamania at the harold washington library on november 19) here.

if i still haven't convinced you to make jim gill a part of your family's musical library, check out this video and tell me i'm wrong, i dare you!  (while i was looking for this video, i also saw this one--can you believe the whole song is played entirely with bottles?!  i thought for sure that they used a synthesizer for most of it!)

if this video has wet your appetite, then i'm pleased to let you know that i have a copy of the cd and dvd to give away to one of you readers.  just leave a comment below telling me your favorite song to sing with your favorite child (e.g. grandchild, nephew, niece, son, daughter, etc.).  i will choose a winner using on wednesday, october 26, 2011 (us residents only please).

i received a free copy of the cd and dvd, as well as information, from sugar mountain pr for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

chicago toy and game fair (w/giveaway)

don't let your kids make their christmas lists until they have been to the chicago toy and game fair!  there is no better way to see what the latest and greatest toys are until you have been to the fair, and, in most cases, tried out the toys for yourself.

last year our family had an opportunity to experience the chicago toy and game fair for the first time ever.  we had no idea what to expect when we showed up but we didn't want to leave once we got there.  the kids had an opportunity to try out toys like a gigantic etch-a-sketch, nerf guns, razor bikes, new games (like ninja to ninja that everybody in our family really likes).  we are already looking forward to attending this year's show and seeing all that there is to see, and even getting to try out some of this year's hottest toys for ourselves.

here are the details for the largest toy and game fair in the country:  on november 19 and 20, kids and their families have the opportunity to meet inventors of toys and games; preview, play and purchase the season's top toys and games; observe live stage entertainment, free tournaments and contests, a star wars breakfast, costumed characters roaming the Fair; and play with giant-sized interactive toys and games.

last year, bill was more excited than any of the other kids to get his picture taken with darth maul, a storm trooper and darth vader.  i'm guessing tate will have a little more interest in some of those guys this year.

if this sounds like something you would like to see, i have a coupon to get $2 off admission.  the regular price is $10 for adults and $5 for kids (3 and under are free).

you can also enter here for a chance to win a family pass for the weekend to the chicago toy and game fair.  just leave me a comment below telling me your favorite toy or game from when you were growing up.  is it still available today?  have you bought it for your kids?  i will choose a winner on saturday, october 22.  if you don't win, check back because i will be giving a family pass away each week leading up to the day of the fair.

my family will receive free passes to the fair. i received all the information, as well as the passes to give away, from the chicago toy and game media group. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

the circus is coming to town! (w/giveaway)

ringling bros and barnum and bailey present "fully charged" this year. we have attended the circus the last couple of years and it has never failed to disappoint. tate still talks about his favorite acts (the tigers, especially), and the girls are already looking forward to trying to win the drawing for the elephant painting.

this year the ukrainian strongman duo, dmitry nadolinkskiy and rusian gilmulin will impress audiences by lifting hefty telephone poles and twirl them above their heads while acrobats balance on top. the "fearless fernandez brothers" (another favorite of tate's) will perform extreme jumps and twists inside moving wheels knows as the "twin turbines of steel." brian mizer will rocket through the air from his self-made human crossbow.

of course, no circus is complete without clowns (not tate's favorite, but definitely my favorite). the clowns of "fully charged" will not fail to entertain with their silly antics and clownish comedy again this year.

you have plenty of opportunities to attend the circus this year.  the show will be at allstate arena november 3 through 13.  then the show moves to the united center  november 16 through 27 (the united center offers free parking for all shows).

if you are looking forward to the circus this year as much as we are, then you won't want to miss out on this fabulous opportunity to win a four-pack of tickets for you and your family or friends.  you will have a choice of the following shows to attend: thurs. nov. 3 @ 7:00 pm; wed. Nov. 9 @ 7:00 pm; wed. nov. 10 @ 7:00 pm; wed. nov. 16 @ 7:00 pm; thurs nov. 17 @ 7:00 pm.

just leave a comment below telling me which act you would like to be a part of if you ever "ran away to join the circus."  i think i would like being one of those elephant ladies who ride on their heads and do the "princess wave" to the audience while riding around the ring.  i'm not sure how i would look in one of those sparkly outfits, but i think it would be great to have such a close relationship with the elephants each night!

i will choose a winner using on october 24, 2011.  make sure to leave me your email address so i can get in touch with you and let you know you've won!

if you don't want to leave anything to chance, and you want to go ahead and purchase your tickets now, use the code "MOM" to get 4 tickets for $11 for weekday shows and $4 off tickets to the weekend shows.  if you would like a coloring page to help get your kids excited for the show, you can get one here.

and the winner is...

the winner of the freschetta pizza and earbuds giveaway is...
...julie!  congratulations!  i hope you enjoy your freschetta pepperoni pizza!

for the rest of you, i have a few more giveaways coming up, so check back soon!

Friday, October 7, 2011

sante nuts review

we are absolutely nuts about nuts around here.  i like to offer them to the kids along with dried fruit for an after school snack.  bill and i like to have them for those times when you know you should eat something healthy but you really just want something that tastes good. 

sante nuts are a great way to satisfy cravings for both sweet and savory snacks.  since i always want something sweet, i have two favorite flavors of sante nuts:  the candied pecans and the candied walnuts are perfect.  they have just a hint of sweetness so i can satisfy that craving without feeling like i'm overloading on sugar.

bill and i both like the roasted salted pecans.  they do not taste oily or greasy like other roasted nuts we have tried.  the nuts are made in an artisan roaster using organic canola oil and high quality nuts, many of which come from family farms.  this makes me feel good about eating them myself as well as serving them to my kids.

while i like the garlic almonds okay, bill loves them.  he is much more likely to reach for a savory snack that i am, so these were a really big hit with him.  they were slightly spicy for the kids, but they were happy to eat them whenever they saw bill eating them!

the story behind the nuts is a good one.  six years ago, sara became a single mom and realized she needed to come up with a way to support her family financially.  her son came up with the idea of selling the nuts that she had always made for her kids, to their great delight.  she began by roasting the nuts in her own kitchen and soon she was able to grow the company.  they still use the roasting technique that sara learned from her grandmother and make the nuts in small batches with high-quality ingredients.

i can honestly say i liked these nuts better than any that i've bought at a store.  i think the price is reasonable for the incredibly quality that you get ($4.29 to $5.99 for 4 or 5 oz. packages).  my only issue is that at this point in time, they are only available online. i have a hard time picturing myself ordering nuts online very often.  if they start showing up in stores, i will definitely buy them on a regular basis! 

if you want to give them a try for yourself, you can get 25% off your first order.  just use the code 2011-Blog-022 when you check out at

i received a free sample pack of nuts from sante for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

freschetta pizza goes pink (with giveaway)

i have to admit that when we finally reach the weekend, i'm ready to think more along the lines of "frozen pizza" than "homemade meal."  thankfully, my kids never complain too much!

this month, i can feel even better about frozen pizza dinners because freschetta pizza is supporting research for breast cancer in honor of breast cancer awareness month.

each pizza you buy during the month of october will come with a code that you can enter at their website,  each code that you enter will be add $1 to the fund to support breast cancer research, up to $50,000.

in addition, each time you input a code, you can be entered to win a pink ipod shuffle.  they are giving away fifty ipod shuffles a week, in addition to donating 50 ipod shuffles each week to four different cancer centers.

to help you get started, i have the opportunity to offer to you a coupon for a freschetta pizza, as well as two sets of pink ear buds, one for you to keep and one for you to give to a family member or friend.  just leave me a comment below, telling me your favorite kind of freschetta pizza (usa residents only).  personally, i love the naturally rising cheese pizza, and my kids do too.  you can leave a second comment if you are subscriber to this blog.  i will choose a winner on october 14, 2011.

i received this information, a coupon and 2 sets of pink earbuds from freschetta for the purpose of this giveaway.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

and the winner is...

these were some pretty popular giveaways this round...if you didn't win, i have a new giveaway coming today or tomorrow.  if you like pizza, you will want to enter!

the winner of the sam's club gift card is...

...lili! you should be able to buy lots of milk with this gift card! (maybe you can splurge and buy something for yourself for a change!)

the winner of the hearts for hearts doll is...
...angie!  i hope you learn a lot about laos when you receive tipi in the mail!  the nice thing about the dolls (if you didn't win) is that they really don't cost that much, so you can still feel good about purchasing one yourself!

congratulations, winners!  and thank you everyone else for the all the lovely comments.

you can also find me here

some other groups i've joined


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