Monday, January 26, 2015


Hope everyone had a great weekend!  It's been awhile since I sat down to blog and I've truly missed it. 

Last year was such a big year for our family, with both good and a few not so good events which led to several long breaks in between posts. However, I hope to change that very soon and I do have some big plans to share with you.

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Until then, here's what we've been up to.  Kaitlyn recently turned 10 months old and is on the move.  She loves following Abby and Summer all over the house and she's such a funny, sweet little girl.  Summer (2) has grown up so much in the last few months.  She's full of spunk and has grown her vocabulary SO MUCH!  Being able to communicate with her has helped on so many levels and it's just incredible to hear all she has to say...which is ALOT!  And, Abby (6) is currently in the first grade.  We are still homeschooling which I love!  In October, she began participating in a homeschool gym/swim group through the YMCA and last week she began a monthly class at a local nature preserve.  She is having a lot of fun this year!

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I can't wait to see where 2015 takes our family and while I'm a few weeks late...better late than never. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

VTech Bundle Pack Review and Giveaway

With Christmas right around the corner, I know many of you with young children will appreciate this post.  Over a month ago, we received a generous bundle courtesy of VTech to review with not one, but four exciting products from their line of fun interactive toys for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.  Here's a look at what's included:  VTech® Chomp & Count Dino™, Sit-to-Stand Smart Cruiser™, Grow-Along Music Center™, and Smart Shots Sports Center™!   
Best of all, one of my readers will have the chance to win their own bundle set below.

Disclaimer:  All products, product information and giveaway items are courtesy of VTech.

The Chomp & Count Dino is the perfect learning toy for toddlers and preschoolers.  Children have the opportunity to learn about colors, numbers, and shapes with the various features including the spin wheel and numbered buttons.  It's fun to note the Dino recognizes the eight brightly-colored "food" pieces as it's being fed.  The shapes land in the tummy which also acts as a storage area for easy clean up!  I love that VTech makes the "food" pieces just the right size for small hands while also being large enough to not pose a choking risk to younger children or babies.  The Dino also has a question button at the top of its head which gives your child the chance to answer a question using the buttons to see what he/she has learned.  My toddler loves pulling the Dino around with the attached string wherever she goes and listening to the fun melodies.  The Chomp & Count Dino target age range is 12-36 months and retails for $19.99, which is a great value!

VTech's Sit to Stand Smart Cruiser has been a favorite among all my girls!  While the target age range is 6 to 36 months, my 6 year old has equally as much fun.  The cruiser includes a fully interactive learning wheel with several modes and is packed with more than 80 songs and tons of features.  My girls love singing along and interacting!  The wheel sends your child on multiple locations while also teaching directions and the attached gear shift and horn offer a realistic effect for even more fun play.  My favorite aspect about this toy is the removable wheel!  It simply clicks in and out of place. While my toddler (or 6 year old for that matter) rides around the house, the baby can enjoy her own interactive experience with the fun wheel!  Another great feature of the cruiser is the easy lift seat which raises to allow your child to stand and also for toy storage on-the-go.  This toy does require assembly and my husband noted the screws seemed to strip easily, but said it could also have been him and wasn't a big deal.  VTech's Sit to Stand Smart Cruiser retails for $39.99.

Next, we have the Grow Along Music Center which has a target age range of 12-36 months and retails for $29.99.  My 6 year old was so excited to get her hands on this one!  We waited for my husband to assemble it one evening and they play with it often.  The adjustable base is great for multiple ages.  The toy is fully interactive featuring bright colors, catchy melodies and flashing lights.  The toy also features a microphone and wacky voice change option.  Like most VTech toys, this one includes various modes for learning and sing-along that your child can easily alternate between with the flip of a button.  I will say the child has to be very close to the microphone to hear any type of effect, but my girls do not seem to mind at all.

I saved the best for last!  The Smart Shots Sports Center has become a family favorite.  The 2-in-1 electronic sports center features both a basketball hoop and soccer goal along with a basketball and soccer ball.  Assembly was very quick, just click a few pieces together and you are done.  The magic sensor and screen provide fun encouragement, praise, lights, sounds and music.  I appreciate the fact the balls are small enough for my toddler to easily handle and are made out of a rubbery plastic material that will not pose a risk to our 8 month old, but is light enough for indoor play.  The sports center also includes buttons to help your child learn shapes, opposites, numbers, colorful gear shapes to move and more.  The target age range is 12-36 months and retails for $39.99.  The whole family can join in and this is by far the most used, especially by my two year old who loves kicking the ball.

Ready for a chance to win a bundle set
 courtesy of VTech?  Enter below...

Monday, October 06, 2014

Tot School- D is for Duck

Summer is 26 months old.

Summer is loving her 'cool' time!  It's been a good way for us to spend some quality time together and she's so eager to participate, reminding me occasionally if our normal routine gets off track.


Our focus this week was D is for Duck and a bird theme.  Here's her setup...

Top: Rice Sensory Bin, Books, Themed Animals
Top Left to Right: Stacking cups, Pom pom transfer to colored containers, Alphabet letter match
Bottom Left to Right:  Shape match to go along with sensory bin, Bristle blocks, Tot School Printables with dot markers

She started off the beginning of the week using her hands to transfer the pom poms into the matching colored containers.


Towards the end of the week, I added some tongs.  She mostly played with them...


Then, she figured it out.



Building towers with her stacking cups...


The rice bin was a fun experience!  She added in her yellow ducks and played for awhile.

I love the bright, bold color of the rice.  Here's how we made it!  

Bright Rice words

Then, she wanted her stacking cups for pouring.


I hid a few shape cutouts in the rice bin for her to search for and match with another set on her tray.  She wasn't too interested in that idea.


She also wanted to paint during art time...ALOT!  My oldest is currently using Home Art Studio: First Grade.  You can read more about the curriculum here.


And, she spent time playing with some toys we are reviewing.  You can read more about them here and enter for a chance to win a bundle pack of 4 VTech toys!

Looking for Summer's previous weeks of Tot School?

A is for Apple
B is for Ball
C is for Cat

Items We Used This Week

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tot School- C is for Cat

Summer is 26 months old.

This week was a turning point with Summer in regards to the Tot School Printables.  Up to this point, she's shown some interest, but hasn't been overly enthusiastic.  The past two weeks, she would say "no" to most pages I introduced and we would then move on to another activity.  Not a big deal, but a little disappointing.  However, this week she was all for them!

I started off by introducing her to the pet cards.  I cut them apart and spread them out.  We worked on finding the animals she knew, then played a few games to learn a few of the ones she didn't know.  She loved this activity and asked to do it again...a lot!

She was also into the shadow matching.  Another activity she asked to do several times.

This week's color focus was blue...which she has down pretty well.  I gave her a blue dot marker to use in locating the cats.  She quickly dabbed them and was ready to move on!

She liked the coloring sheet and had a little help from Abby.

She used her stuffed kittens to find a few shapes.

I didn't prepare any trays for Summer this time around, but she had a lot of fun playing with this zoo playset we were reviewing.

 And, we read The Three Little Kittens book quite a bit this week.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorers Playset Review & Giveaway

Interactive toys are always a hit around our house!  My girls love the lights and fun music which can keep them entertained for quite a while.  They are especially attracted to animals.  As a parent, I prefer toys that combine fun and education.  VTech makes that easy with the Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorers Playset!

Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Playset, information and additional playset giveaway item were provided courtesy of VTech, in exchange for my honest opinion.  You can review my full disclosure policy at the bottom of the page.


The VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorers Playset is bright and inviting with colorful tracks that can be configured or connected to other Go! Go! Smart Animals or Go! Go! Smart Wheels playsets, sold separately. This encourages your child's creativity and allows them to create something unique.  The playset includes a SmartPoint rhino who takes your child on a tour through the zoo responding to seven SmartPoint locations with different phrases, music and fun sounds.


Your child can strengthen their motor skills with eight manipulative features including a turning gate, spinning water tank and sliding elevator, which my kids love!


The zoo also features an electronic entrance that teaches animal names, animal traits, letter, colors, plays music and lights up.


The target age range for the playset is ages 1-5 and retails for $39.99, but my 6 year old has equally as much fun as my 2 year old.  She loves manipulating the tracks and forming her own creative routes.  Assembly of the playset is quick and easy, allowing kids to play within minutes of opening the box.  Always a plus!  My girls have played with the zoo every day upon arrival (over a month ago) which doesn't happen often.  My 6 month old joins in periodically for playtime and I don't have to worry with small pieces or sharp corners.  She can easily grasp the large objects and enjoys the sounds and lights of the different objects. The zoo playset is fun and engaging allowing them to use their imagination, which I highly encourage.



As a bonus, one of my readers will have a chance to win a Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorers Playset, courtesy of VTech!  It's simple just enter below for your chance to win.  There are several ways to earn an entry, you can choose one or all!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tot School: B is for Ball

Summer is 25.5 months.

For our second week of Tot School Printables, we focused on B is for Ball.  I love having an item of focus to help Summer with her growing vocabulary.  She picked up on the weekly word rather quickly again!  However, she wasn't as interested in the printables this time around.  

To build her interest, I looked for new ways to incorporate the printables.  For this particular activity, I thought she might enjoy painting....and she did!


I also cut the coloring sheet apart and she surprised me by coloring each ball in one sitting.


One of her favorite activities was this shape and color sorting activity!


We played several different ways.  At first, she would pick up a shape and I would say for instance,  "Where does the green star go?"  As she became more familiar with the shapes and colors, I would ask her to choose a certain colored shape.  Eventually, she wanted to sort each shape by color and then dump the remaining shapes into the correct space.


She played with playdough...


Looked through her favorite book quite a bit...


And, she finger painted...



She played with several balls I rounded up from around the house.  She loved playing catch, kicking and rolling them.


My favorite part of the whole week was going for a nice walk together on a crisp evening.  


Kaitlyn joined in a few times, as well.  Summer had a bit of fun rolling the ball to her.



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