Lost Puppies

The neighborhood puppies have wandered away from home & now they need your help!

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  Lost Puppies by Canadian company Family Pastimes is a board game unlike any I’ve played before. The emphasis is on cooperation, instead of competition. Strategy & teamwork are essential to success.

A very welcome alternative to traditional competitive games, children can easily play without needing Mom to step in to referee any disagreements. It brings a smile to my face hearing the kids work out how to solve the problem before them, and warms my heart knowing they are bonding in a friendly, fun manner.  It has quickly become my daughter’s favorite game & she loves to share it with all her little friends.

The cute that appears to be hand-illustrated. It is 12 x 12″, folding neatly into a smaller than typical box,  making it perfect for carrying along to a friend’s house or while camping. img_0918

Cardboard tokens are easy to punch out & have held up well. The instructions are very detailed as to the purpose of each piece, which made explaining to our youngest painless.

Small details, like the shape of the tags on the puppies’ collars, strengthen my preschooler’s shape, color, & number recognition.img_0921

The basic gameplay is fairly simple & well suited for young children, but variations are provided that increase difficulty. I had to read the directions twice to understand them, but it’s pretty straightforward. My children love the “all colors” variation, which is a little too tricky for the youngest when playing solo, but with the help of her older brother they get along just fine.

The games are safety tested & made using all eco-friendly materials; 100% recycled pasteboard, water based glues, non-toxic paints on wooden pieces, soy-based and latex inks on recycled papers, corrugated containers from recycled papers, and recyclable shrink film. Eco-consciousness is something I highly value in a company, as well as the product.

I am glad to have Lost Puppies to occupy the children while I prepare dinner this upcoming Thanksgiving.

Recommended ages 5-7, but we played with a 4 & 8 year old & they both enjoyed it.

Players 1-8  I love that this is a game the kids can easily play with several of their friends! Great for play dates, holiday gatherings, & sleepovers!

Lost Puppies would be a great gift for a family with young children this holiday season!

 

 

I received this product to facilitate an honest review. All thoughts & opinions expressed are my own.

Are you raising kind kids?

Bullying- it’s a huge problem in our schools. An epidemic. Many schools have implemented anti-bullying policies, but to what avail? These policies are reactive, after the fact, and do nothing to address the cause of the behavior, nor do they equip children with the tools they need to handle these situations. These reactive ‘solutions’ are ineffective, but what’s a parent to do?

My kids fall into both categories, the bullied & the bully.  My boy, with his coke-bottle glasses & caring, sensitive disposition would be an easy target for bullies, and he indeed had one. He wouldn’t harm a fly, but my daughter? She could be the Queen of Mean. Lemme tell you how we turned that around.

  Cool Kind Kid– is an educational curricula that can be used by schools or at home. Cool Kind Kid is a proactive solution to bullying. The program teaches kids the social skills they need to combat bullying in a fun & easy way. It’s great for young children, recommended ages 4-9. My children, 4 & 8, really enjoyed and benefitted from it. Books, music, flash cards- no matter your child’s learning style there is a solution for you! Progress charts motivate your children, placemats serve as a gentle reminder to mind your manners at the table,  & bracelets are a fun visual cue that can go everywhere with them.

The kids love the book  Tanner Wants to be COOL! [Book 1]The style is reminiscent of a comic. Bright colors grab their attention, and large print makes it easy for them to read. The kids love Tanner, and I love that as Tanner navigates what it is to be “cool,” my kids learn right along with him that kind, caring, & respectful behavior is cool, while bullying is the ultimate in uncool.

The Bullying Prevention Cool Kind Kid Handbook [Book 1] & Bullying Prevention Tips- Raising a Cool Kind Kid book are invaluable. I like to go over it a little each day. Of course the bookmarks come in handy here! The solutions are delivered in a way children understand & are easy for them to implement into their everyday lives. My kids loved the pages for brainstorming in Bullying Prevention Tips. They really liked the idea of making a plan & putting it into action. Here’s my youngest doing an activity out of the Handbook. We all appreciated the inclusion of fun little activities that didn’t require a ton of time or special equipment & cute.

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The Flashcards are a fun & convenient alternative to the handbook activities. They are large, sturdy, & brightly colored. I like to use them as redirection when the kids are getting antsy (it’s been raining here in the PNW. A lot).

The  award-winning Cool Kind Kid CD gets my kids moving & grooving, while reinforcing positive social behaviors. The songs are relatively short & serve as the perfect “wiggle break” in class. The songs cute, catchy, & upbeat. The lyrics are provided, making it easy to sing along. We enjoy all of the songs, but I am particularly fond of Dan’s Disastrous Dining Dilemma.

I’ve got to say, I love the laminated placemats. The kids enjoy coloring them while waiting for dinner to be served (we use washable markers), so no more asking every 13 seconds whether dinner is done. Best Part? So less mess for Mom (me) to clean after dinner! Before, my kids were much more sloppy eaters, but now that they are being more mindful of their manners, they are also more mindful of where that spaghetti-laden fork is hovering & are eager to help me wipe the table or rinse the dishes. It has been a very pleasant surprise!

Barbara Gilmore, the CEO, is clearly passionate & knowledgable about manners and bullying. She was an absolute pleasure to talk with & very helpful!

My children are able to resolve conflicts that before would have resulted in a squabble & whining. They just remind each other of what a Cool Kind Kid does. That’s it, that simple! My mind is kind of blown.

I have seen a remarkable improvement in my children’s behavior, and they were already well behaved (for the most part)! They  know that “The KIND kid is the COOL kid, not the bully.”™

I highly recommend  the Bullying Prevention Parent /Child Resource Kit which has everything you need to get started. The bundle is a great value. All young children should be taught these skills & tools!

 

Follow Cool Kind Kid on TwitterFacebook, & Instagram

 

I received Cool Kind Kid’s Bullying Prevention Parent/Child Resource Kit free of charge in order to facilitate a review. As always all thoughts expressed are my true opinion.

 

Aromatherapy Shower Melts

Well, the cold & rainy weather has arrived in Oregon, and with it came some kind of virus. Both the guys in my house are sick with a cold, so I get to play nursemaid.

Thankfully, I was prepared! I had everything I needed to make a batch of chicken soup and some  congestion-busting aromatherapy tablets.

These tablets are so quick, easy, cheap, and work so well. They’re nothing more than a baking soda disc with a few drops of essential oil that you place on the floor of your shower, but they work! As the hot water dissolves the tablet the scent of the essential oil is released, adding a boost to the steam for loosening & clearing your airways (with the bonus of helping deodorize your drains, lol). I used this recipe by Patricia Pan on PopSugar, with a little variation (I used Breathe Again Essential Oils Blend by Aviano Botanicals). If you use essential oils for anything, you should do some research to ensure you’re using them in a safe manner. Not all essential oils are safe for use on children or around cats. For instance, this blend contains eucalyptus & rosemary, so it would not be appropriate to use for my children.

Now, you can find many recipes online, including the one I used, that say you can use a normal baking pan & paper cupcake liners. While yes, you can make the tablets that way, I cannot EVER get the paper liner off the discs using that method. Ever. I have used the foil liners with more luck, but even then they stick like mad. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to pick soggy shreds of cupcake liner out of my drain. I also find that allowing the tablets to air dry for 24-48 hours, as opposed to baking them, results in a firmer, much less crumbly disc. I prefer that method, myself. If you do it that way, add the essential oils after the drying time. I baked the melts because the boys are already ill & I finally got a silicone cupcake pan, so now there aren’t any cupcake liners to mess with!

I used this Keliwa 12 Cup Silicone Muffin & Cupcake Baking Pan. It says it’s dishwasher & microwave safe, but I don’t have either of those appliances to put that to the test. It also says it can be used up to 450 degrees, but the recipe above only goes to 350. I was worried about fumes & odors while baking, but I didn’t smell anything from the pan- not even when I pulled it out of the oven & leaned in to sniff the silicone itself. The pan is very flexible, you do need to use a baking sheet under it. It was very easy to remove the tablets (which did not crumble). I think if I were to bake muffins or eggs in it, it would be easy to push them out from the bottom. It certainly beats my little 6 cup metal muffin pan as far as convenience goes, but the cups are a tad more shallow. The entire shower melt recipe fit perfectly in the cups, with no empty cups or leftover mix.

 

I received both the baking sheet & essential oil blend free of charge/discounted in order to facilitate a review. The opinions expressed on my blog are based on my own thoughts, knowledge, and experiences. Please remember that I am not a health professional. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, health, or other applicable areas.

If You Were Me and Lived In…

I am thrilled to review If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England  and  If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America, both authored by Carole P. Roman.  This series, An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Timehas been on my wishlist!

Carole P. Roman has found a way to make history real & relatable to the kids. The series really immerses a child in history by presenting an easy to understand but informative story, told from a child’s perspective. Your child becomes the “you” in the story!

Each book has prompts in the story that made it incredibly easy to engage the children in discussion, as well as a glossary in back with word definitions and notable people of the time period. There are easy to use pronunciation guides in the text for kids encountering new or difficult vocabulary words- my son thought this was genius, as he wouldn’t have to flip to the glossary & risk losing his place in the story.

If You Were Me and Lived In… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time Book 3) img_0876

I have always been fascinated by the Tudors, though I tend to favor the Middle Ages over Renaissance era when it comes to reading history for pleasure. As such, there was some information within this book that my children already knew- that Henry VIII divorced Catherine in an effort to have a male heir,  the religious turmoil which is lightly touched upon, that meats were stewed with fruit (we’ve even made some period recipes, slightly adjusted for modern convenience/availability of ingredients).  Topics such as the rise of what we now call the middle class, education inequality, the habit of putting straw down inside the house, and detachable sleeves were new for them.

My son, having the typical 8 yr old humor, was both disgusted and strangely delighted with the illustration and text telling of the unsanitary street conditions in London. This provided a great jumping off point into  a conversation about the role of cities in epidemics like Bubonic Plague, Sweating Sickness, etc, and how the fear of these things affected King Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s father.

They were shocked to learn how differently boys & girls were educated, especially because they themselves sit side by side for school every day, & horrified at the thought of an 8 year old with a job, though also in awe over how accomplished a 12 year old could be.

The illustrations in this book are less cartoonish, and detailed- plenty of stuff for your child to look at and talk about- something that is encouraged right at the start of the book.

My kids have been inspired to learn more about #Elizabethan England, and Elizabeth I herself, which makes this book a winner as far as I’m concerned!

If You Were Me and Lived in …Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time Book 4).img_0880

My kids & I actually read this one first. My youngest, soon to be 5 and at the pseudo reading/pre-reading stage, expressed a lot of interest and sat flipping through the book for quite awhile, talking about what she spotted in the illustrations. Clearly she was already taken with the colorful pictures!

This tells the story of the early stages of how America came to be. Everything from why the Puritan settlers left England, travel on the Mayflower, the hardship of starting life anew, how the settlements were built, the clothing they wore, the food they ate, the help received  from natives, and what games they played are touched on.

As a homeschooler, I am in the habit of trying to engage my children in active listening/reading with questions and predictions while reading, but I have to say, one of the discussion prompts in this story made quite the impression! What do names such as Mercy, Patience, Abraham, and Comfort tell you about the society (paraphrased)? It wouldn’t have occurred to me to use the names to think about the society itself with children so young (4 & 8) by myself. I love it! My kids enjoyed stopping to think of the meaning behind each name and what that indicated about the time and people.

My children got a kick out of new-to-them words like jerkin & wattle. They thought it would be kind of fun to patch your walls with mud, and speculated how annoying it might be if your socks were to come untied. And boy howdy, the work kids had back then! My kids could not fathom having so many chores. Maybe now they’ll appreciate how good they have it and pick up their bedroom without a fight.

Is this the full history of the founding of what is now the United States of America? Of course not. Is it a great introduction to the subject for elementary aged children? Yes!

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I was already interested in purchasing the entire series, but now I know that I absolutely must! I would recommend these books to any elementary aged child.

I received these books free of charge in order to facilitate a review. As always, all thoughts & opinions expressed are my own.

Fitness Challenge Completed

This is it, the last day of the fitness challenge. To wrap it up I decided to sit down with some tea and reflect on the last month.

Did I work out regularly before the challenge? No, no I did not.

Are there any changes I’ve noticed? My pushups have definitely improved! My abs seem slightly stronger. My husband also says my attitude is better, so that’s great!

What part of the challenge did I most like? The end, lol. Just kidding. I liked feeling that I accomplished something good for me every day.

What part of the challenge was most difficult? A little more than halfway through the numbers began to get pretty intimidating, and my legs were just *so* tired, that I found it difficult to start the daily exercises.

What helped me persevere? Knowing that I had a FB group to lead & encourage kept me going. How could I expect other members to do what I would not?

Did I feel supported and encouraged within my group? Absolutely! My gals are spectacular! They encouraged me to keep on going when I just couldn’t find the motivation within myself.

What would I have changed, if anything? I would probably add a little more upper body and certainly some cardio. Maybe ease up on the squats a bit, or at the very least implement a total rest day for the lower body. It’s still a good challenge for beginners but…ugggggghhhh, so many, many squats. I’d also do before/after pics or measurements next time.

Do I think that I will continue making fitness a part of my daily routine now that the challenge is over? I absolutely do!  For now, I think dedicating 30 minutes a day is a good place to start until working out becomes more of a habit.

And now, to my next challenge- discovering my city!

Scratch-Off Interactive World Map

I am so excited to review the Scratch-Off Interactive World Map by Info-Globes

You read that right, a scratch off -like a lottery ticket- map. What a nifty idea.

This map came very well packaged, rolled in a sturdy poster tube with a sheet of tissue paper to protect the surface from scratches. The map within was in perfect condition, without any creases.

The map is black with gold foil coating the land masses, and measures about 32″x 23″(measure yourself before buying a frame! I hung it BEFORE I measured & my measurements are more of a ballpark figure). It’s a great size- not so large than you need to dedicate an entire wall to it, but not so small that you can’t fully appreciate it from across a room. The US states & Canadian provinces are not outlined as the map shows the world’s countries. At the bottom of the map there is some infographics, which I found to be a neat touch.  You can scratch off the gold foil with the tool provided to reveal colors beneath! Or leave the gold foil intact to match your decor. The map also came with a simple, but cute compass. I think that’s more for a decorative touch, because the compass seems a little bit flimsy, and was dented, but the map itself is quality.

What a fun way to keep track of the countries you’ve visited! My husband could scratch a few off, but I’ve never been outside of the US, so… It’s marketed as a great gift for travelers & while that’s  true, I think it would be great in the classroom & that’s how we are going to use it. We do cultural studies along with geography, and as we learn about each region we’ll be scratching it off to reveal the colors beneath. My kids are very excited about it! We haven’t done much scratching yet, but you can see the range of colors beneath the gold foil on the product page.

Unfortunately I didn’t see a USA version of this map, but  I’m off to look for one.

I would recommend Scratch-Off Interactive World Map by Info-Globes to anyone who enjoys travelling, wants a fun way to reinforce studies,  or who would just like a map for decor.

I received this product for free/discount for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saucy!

We eat a lot of pizza. A couple of times a month. Okay, more like once a week. Believe me when I say no delivery place can beat the taste, or cost, of homemade.

Tonight I experimented with homemade pizza sauce, with NO cans of anything, for the first time ever. I am not a fan of most tomato sauces because they are too sweet for my tastes, which plays into why I have avoided trying to make my own sauce for so long. Guys, it was so easy! And about a thousand times better than the jarred brand I normally use. Tangy, fresh tomato flavor with just a hint of sweetness and perfectly seasoned. And you can customize the ingredients to suit your taste. I think next time I will play around with adding mushroom to the sauce. You can check out that recipe towards the bottom of the post 😉

For several years we’ve had a wooden pizza peel but found it difficult to use due to the thickness of the thing. The edge is quite thick and barely tapered. Now the design flaw is obvious, but I failed to consider that aspect when I purchased it. I think I was blinded by my love of wooden kitchen utensils. I pretty much threw $30 in the trash when I bought this thing.

Enter the Tesion 12-Inch x 14-Inch Aluminum Pizza Peel with Wood Handle. This 26″ long pizza peel boasts a natural wood handle, 8″ long, to protect your hands from heat (and as you will come to see as you read my blog, I am prone to accidents like burning myself, so something that keeps my hands out of the oven is a good thing). The handle is smooth and without splinters, and well attached, no wiggling or looseness at the base where the handle meets the head.

The 12″x14″ aluminum head is large enough to adequately hold a good sized pizza. It’s thin, but sturdy enough that weight of a fully loaded pizza posed no problem at all. But the best part? A thin edge!!!  It’s like a giant spatula! It is so easy to transfer baked pizzas out of the oven now! However, getting the uncooked dough onto & off of the peel wasn’t very easy, even with cornmeal. This might have something to do with our method, more than the peel itself. I did notice that the aluminum scuffs easily, but clean up is a breeze.

In the end this pizza peel is still  much more user friendly than my short handled, thick wooden one. If only I had known before, I could have saved myself some dough (see what I did there? Lol).

Pizza Sauce: 

  • Approx 5 lb Roma tomatoes
  • 1 c water
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1/4 c celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 T grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 t basil, dried
  • 1 t oregano, dried
  • 1/2 t thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary, dried
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed (you can use the back of a spoon)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • a dash cayenne pepper
  • bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar- if you like it sweet just add more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  1. Blanche the tomatoes- this makes the skin slide right off. Peel & chop, reserving any juices.
  2. Heat the oil/melt the butter in a saucepan. Add onion ,garlic, and celery, cooking until translucent. Add the seasonings* (not the cheese, bay leaf, sugar, or salt) & cook about 30 seconds more. Remove from heat
  3. Add your tomatoes and onion mixture to blender. Blend until smooth. Return to pot.
  4.  Stir in rest of ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat & simmer about 2 hours, until thickened, stirring occasionally.

*I like to crumble my dry seasonings in by hand, rubbing them between my palms, to release their fragrance. Smells heavenly.

 

We made a supreme pizza because my husband likes them, but personally, I love a crispy thin crust pepperoni loaded with jalapenos.

What pizza toppings are your favorite?

 

I received a Tesion pizza peel at free or reduced cost in trade for my honest review. As always, the thought & opinions expressed are my own.