Monday, October 31, 2011

Children’s Picture Book Round-Up! Fall 2011 Edition

It’s time for another peek at some of the great picture books that have arrived on my desk recently. With a wide variety of themes, you’re sure to find something that you and your child will enjoy reading together!


Sardoodledom: A Spelling Bee Tale
Author: Krishna Dalal
Illustrator: Jessica Warrick

Meet Chloe, Ryan, Juan, and Hannah -- four kids who are competing in the Jefferson Elementary School Spelling Bee. Chloe loves big words, like “sardoodledom.” Ryan loves rhyming words. Juan likes telling knock-knock jokes, and Hannah gets unnerved by homophones! How will these kids do in the spelling bee? Introduce a real bee, and you’ve suddenly got a disaster! Sardoodledom is not only highly entertaining, but introduces children to concepts like oxymorons, palindromes, homophones, and more!


Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Their New Skates
Author and Illustrator: Maj Lindman

Originally published more than 30 years ago, this re-issued book is part of a classic series by Swedish author and illustrator, Maj Lindman. In this story, sisters Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka wake up on Christmas morning to find new ice skates under the tree! Later that day, they go skating, and their dog Mike falls through the ice along with a little boy who’d been chasing him. Will the girls be able to save them? Yes! Later, the boy brings new dolls for the girls and a bone for Mike. This beautiful hardcover edition comes with a set of paper dolls and makes a fantastic holiday gift!


The Cave Monster
Authors: Thomas Weck and Peter Weck
Illustrator: Len DiSalvo

L. Joe Bean, a little red bear, has been captured by the Cave Monster! It’s up to his cousin Lima Bear and his friends -- a raccoon, an opossum, and a rabbit -- to save him. Bravely, they approach Black Cave at night and untie L. Joe Bean while the monster sleeps. But, suddenly, the monster awakes! Can the timid animals defeat the Cave Monster and get out safely? Kids will love reading how the brave friends work together to outwit the Cave Monster and save the little bear. Other books in this series include How Back-Back Got His Name and The Megasaurus!


The Story of Hanukkah Howie
Author: Jan Dalrymple
Illustrator: Bob Dalrymple

This delightful rhyming book tells the story of baby Howie, who suddenly starts sprouting spikes of hair on his head! Each day, a new spike appears, and his mother tries desperately to hide them since they can’t be combed out. After the ninth spike sprouts, they realize that Howie’s hair looks just like a menorah! After Hanukkah, the spikes disappear, but they re-appear every December. As Howie grows up, he becomes embarrassed by his hair during Hanukkah. But as a young man, Howie realizes the gift he’s been given, which can bring joy during the special season. This innovative story teaches children that it’s okay to be different and that we should seize opportunities to bring happiness to others.


I Believe in You
Author and Illustrator: Marianne Richmond

It’s not always easy being a kid, and this book lets children know that their parents are always supporting them. “Whether it’s sunny or stormy, whether you’re happy or blue, I’m here to say, without a doubt, that I believe in you!” Children are praised for their smart thinking, awesome skills, true courage, stand-up truth, quick laugh, true beauty, brave spirit, playful heart, and great attitude. Accompanied by colorful, sunny illustrations, this book will leave your children beaming with joy, knowing how much you love them!



Which Is Cuter: Puppies or Babies? Join the Discussion and Cast Your Vote!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Puppies vs. Babies for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

PvB-CuteDar-Green-300x250-Backup.jpg

Pictures of cute babies and animals are constantly circulating on the Internet and via email. People just love to look at adorable puppies, kitties and babies. Now, there’s a website that wants to know: Which is cuter -- puppies or babies? Do you drool when you see a cuddly baby photo or do you want to head to the nearest animal shelter when you see a cute puppy pic?

My vote? Well, although I think puppies are adorable, my vote would have to be cast for babies. There’s something about the sight of a bubbly baby that makes me ready to start pulling out the maternity clothes all over again! And, of course, I’m certain that my four boys were way cuter than puppies when they were babies! So, what about you? If you had to pick just one, would you vote for a cute baby or a cuddly puppy?

Here’s your chance to chime in: Visit the Puppies vs. Babies online contest and check out the photos. (Caution: They’re so cute, you may be there for hours!) Start rating your favorite photos on a scale of 1 to 10. Vote from now until November 23rd and help decide who will ultimately be the top baby or puppy! The winning puppy or baby will receive the grand prize of $5,000!

It’s Puppies vs. Babies in this unique contest. Who will win? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. And be sure to CLICK HERE to view the adorable pictures and cast your votes.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday Meet and Greet: Arizona Mama

Your name: Nancy aka fancygrlnancy

Where do you blog? Arizona Mama



How did you decide on what to name your blog? I was having a hard time with it. I asked a few bloggy friends and got some great ideas. Arizona Mama was suggested by Anna from The Baby Store Plus, and I liked it immediately. It’s simple and really identifies that I am in Arizona, and I am a mom.

Tell us a little bit about you... I am a mom to an almost three-and-a-half-year-old boy. I started my family a little later in my thirties. My wonderful husband is eight years older than me, and he has a daughter who will be twenty-four soon. We are currently TTC our second together. I work full-time in a Head Start Program. Currently, I am a curriculum training specialist, and I train the teachers and mentor them. I was a Head Start teacher in the classroom for over ten years.

Tell us five of your favorite things:
1. my son
2. my husband
3. my mom
4. chocolate
5. winning giveaways

5 of your least favorite things:
1. smokers
2. liars
3. cheaters
4. peas
5. paying bills

When and why did you start blogging? I started blogging just under two years ago. I honestly started because I was reading blogs and entering giveaways. I wanted to get all those great extra entries for having the buttons and blogging. I also wanted to keep kind of a live journal of my son’s life. I have been really bad about not writing in the baby book, so I guess my blog is kind of pieces for the baby book.

What do you blog about? I blog about my life with my son. I also do many product reviews and giveaways.

What does your family think of your blog? Do they read it? Most like the idea. My mom reads it and even stared entering giveaways. My husband reads it when it’s a personal post. I know my brother-in-law and my aunt have looked at it, but not sure how much they read it.

When do you find the time to blog? I blog in the evenings while I should be sleeping … lol! And nap time on the weekends.

What is your favorite blog post ever? I don’t know about favorite posts, but recently I started a Thursday’s Thoughts with Jayden, and I write some of the funny things my son says. He is so smart and cute. Here are a couple:
http://arizonamama-fancygrlnancy.blogspot.com/2011/10/thursdays-thoughts-with-jayden_27.html
and
http://arizonamama-fancygrlnancy.blogspot.com/2011/09/thursdays-thoughts-with-jayden.html

What is your favorite item you ever reviewed? I have reviewed some great items! Two stick out that I love for both the product and the great people who work there: Picture Keeper and Ova Cue Fertility Monitor.

What brand or product would you really like to work with/review? I would LOVE to review The Learning Tower, and I’d also like Vtech and Leap Frog.

What are your favorite blogs to read? I like and read many blogs ... Here are a couple:
The Jacobsen Family
The Mommy Times

Where can we find you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArizonaMamaBlog
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/fancygrlnancy

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jungle Speed: A Fun Card Game for the Whole Family! (GIVEAWAY)

If your family likes to play fast-paced card games, you’ll love Jungle Speed! This game has already sold more than 2 million copies in Europe, and just arrived in the United States this summer. My boys and I have been having a lot of fun playing this game. Each player has a stack of cards and flips a card over from the pile when it’s his turn. There are abstract shapes on each card, and when two identical cards are flipped up, each player makes a quick grab for the yellow totem placed in the middle. Through this process, cards get eliminated, and the first person to get rid of all of his cards wins the game! There are also “special cards” in the deck that temporarily change the play, so players have to be alert at all times!

Jungle Speed makes a great party game because up to 10 people can play. It also moves very quickly so it’s never dull. Nobody waits around while somebody decides on a move like many board games. It’s also educational for children because they learn to recognize patterns and colors, as well as respond quickly to a certain prompt. The box recommends Jungle Speed for ages 8 and up, but my 7-year-old twins can play it with no problem. It’s easy to understand by younger players, but they may get frustrated if they can’t grab the totem as quickly as older players so it’s better if they play with kids closer to their age.

Grabbing for the totem in Jungle Speed!
My family loves playing games together, but sometimes we get tired of playing the same games over and over. So, we’re excited to have a new game for Family Game Night. Jungle Speed is fun, easy to learn, and brings everyone together. What more could you ask for in a night of great entertainment?!

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive his or her own Jungle Speed game!

MANDATORY ENTRY: Leave a comment on this post with the name of your family’s favorite card game! You must do this to enter the giveaway.

After fulfilling the mandatory entry above, you can earn optional, additional entries if you:

- Follow @ParentingAuthor on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway. You may tweet up to 3x a day. (Please space them at least an hour apart.) Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (1 entry per tweet)

- Like Susan Heim on Parenting on Facebook and/or follow on Networked Blogs. (1 entry for each; leave 2 comments)

- Subscribe to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS, Google Friend Connect and/or Kindle. Leave a comment for each subscription method. (1 entry for each subscription method for up to 4 entries)

- Place a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog and/or a text link on your blog roll. Post a comment with your blog’s URL. (1 entry for button; 1 entry for text link)

- Enter another current giveaway on Susan Heim on Parenting. (1 entry per giveaway entered)

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Sunday, November 13, 2011, at 11:59 PM ET. Please leave an email address on one of your comments if it’s not available on your Blogger profile. Winner must respond to the notification email within 72 hours or another winner will be drawn. Contest is open to US residents only.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner: Jacqui Odell!



Winners for the Week of October 23, 2011

Halloween is almost here! So, it’s only fitting that the winners this week won Halloween prizes! I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween. And don’t forget to check out the current ongoing giveaways on the right sidebar!

THE GARFIELD SHOW: SPOOKY TAILS
(DVD)


Congratulations to the winner: Mary!

HALLOWEEN SCREAM GIVEAWAY: $100 PAYPAL CASH


Congratulations to the winner: Kristie Betts!

The Importance of Building Self-Esteem in Little Kids

Guest Post by Nancy Parker

Sometimes it can be hard to realize when our kids are suffering from low self-esteem. In addition to the fact that kids are growing up focusing more on the negative than the positive, and the media reinforces the stereotype that you have to look and act a certain way to be attractive or be considered “cool,” children are also growing up learning how to hide their feelings. It’s important for parents to take a leading, active role in their children’s lives to cultivate self-esteem and build it up to counteract any and all elements that are out to break it down.

So much of a person’s self-worth is determined when they are young. From early on we are inundated with what popular society deems is “perfect.” If you don’t fit into that mold -- and let’s be honest, people rarely do -- then you spend too much time viewing your perceived imperfections and dwelling on how to get rid of them. However if we, as parents, step up and actively take a role in promoting how wonderful our children are, we have a chance to put a halt to this negative self-talk that plagues everyone.

A lot of self-esteem building starts with you and your partner. It’s important to show your kids how much you appreciate your spouse so that they know what to look for in their own relationships. Kids are always watching their parents, even when you may think they don’t notice something. Giving positive feedback and constructive criticism is crucial in teaching our children what is right and wrong.

It’s also important to teach them to love themselves -- which also starts with you. Make it a point to stop negative self-talk. Instead of saying things like “I look fat,” focus on positive affirmations and say them out loud so your kids can hear. Likewise, tell your kids how great they look in outfits, how awesome their personality traits are, and reaffirm positive actions -- it all adds up. Shower them with love and affection so that they know they are valued.

Our children need to be stimulated as well. We’ve become lax in letting them watch TV and play video games all the time, when they really need to be challenged and be pushed comfortably outside of their comfort zone. We have to teach them that it’s good to take on challenges that are bearable, such as trying a new sport or taking up a new hobby. This doesn’t mean forcing them to do things that they hate, but it does mean encouraging them to branch out. It means teaching them that it’s okay to fail because we tried, but not to accept failure as the norm and expect to fail.

We have a responsibility to our children to teach them how important having a positive image is -- and not being conceited, but being confident. Our kids are slammed day in and day out with negatives, but we have the gift of being able to counteract that with positives. We are their biggest role models, and we have the gift of giving them high self-esteem … don’t waste that opportunity!

Author Bio
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny, and she loves to write about a wide range of subjects like health, parenting, child care and babysitting, find a nanny tips, etc. You can reach her at nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cookbook Review: The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book, by Camilla V. Saulsbury


I admit that I’m a lazy chef. If there are too many ingredients or too many steps, I won’t even attempt a recipe. With my busy schedule, food preparation has to be quick and easy. And, of course, delicious! Thus, I was so excited when I learned about the cookbook: The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book: More Than 375 Delectable Cookie Recipes That Begin with a Box of Cake Mix, by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Every single recipe begins with a box of cake mix. Since the flour and sugar and many other ingredients are already mixed into the cake mix, it saves so much time! Just add a few more ingredients, and you’ve got a fantastic cookie recipe.

Of course, the proof of a great cookbook is in actually using the recipes. So, I scrolled through the 375 mouth-watering choices and finally decided to make the Chai Spice Cookies. This recipe sounded intriguing because I love Chai Tea. The only ingredients are a package of spice cake mix, melted butter, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, and slivered almonds. Ready-to-spread vanilla frosting is optional.

First, I combined the ingredients.


Then I blended them for a minute.


The next step was to spoon them onto a greased cookie sheet, top them with almonds, and bake for 9-12 minutes!


They smelled heavenly as they cooked! I took them out and slid them onto waxed paper to cool after a minute. When they were completely cooled, I microwaved some vanilla frosting and drizzled it all over the cookies. They looked amazing!


And not only did they look good, but they tasted incredible, too. I can’t believe how easy this recipe was to make, and how well my cookies turned out. I can’t wait to try out another cookie recipe made from cake mix! I could spend several years just working my way through this book. Just about every single recipe sounds scrumptious to me!

The Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book is my new favorite cookbook ever. I’m already imagining the tasty cookies I’m going to bake for the holidays, bake sales, housewarming gifts, and just for fun! This book is a must-have for anyone who loves cookies, and would make an amazing holiday gift for your friends and relatives, too!





Friday, October 28, 2011

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (October 29, 2011)

I can't believe that it's time for another weekend! The weeks just fly by. I hope that everyone has a fun and safe Halloween. While you're anticipating your candy overdose this weekend, please take a few minutes to submit your giveaways in the linky below and enter to win some great prizes. I've added some new giveaways this week, too, so be sure to check them out on the right sidebar.




Product Review and Giveaway: Country Market Soaps (US/CAN)

I really love homemade soaps and have always wanted to make some. It’s one of those things I have just never gotten around to doing. So, I was very excited to learn about a local company called Country Market Soaps right here in my hometown of Yarmouth, NS, Canada. Rena Upton’s beautiful soaps smell so good that you want to eat them! Just looking at the pictures made me want to order a bunch, and I hadn’t yet smelled them or tried them out.

Rena sent over samples of her Pumpkin Pie, Hot Buttered Oatmeal with Milk and Honey, and Coconut Cream Soaps, and a Citrus Hand Scrubber (prices starting at $4). I was very happy with all of the soaps. I loved the way they lathered, the smell was perfect, and they had a nice moisturizing effect that lasted. They are very pretty to look at as well and would look lovely in a bowl or soap dish beside your sink. My favorite all-time soap scent has always been coconut, and I have been very picky about the ones I have had before. Country Market Soaps passed the test! WOOT!

The Citrus Hand Scrubber was awesome as well. It’s perfect to have by the kitchen or bathroom sink for wash-ups after coming in from outside or before preparing a meal. I love that I can now buy my soap locally, and you can get these soaps, too! Check out the Country Market Soaps Facebook page for more details and other soaps that Rena has to offer.





GIVEAWAY

Rena has generously offered to give away a basket of Country Market Soaps to one lucky winner in the United States or Canada!

MANDATORY ENTRY: To enter, just “Like” the Country Market Soaps Facebook page. Leave a comment with your Facebook name. (If you’re not on Facebook, leave a comment with a suggestion for a soap scent for Rena!)

After fulfilling the mandatory entry above, you can earn optional, additional entries if you:

- Follow @ParentingAuthor on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway. You may tweet up to 3x a day. (Please space them at least an hour apart.) Leave a separate comment with the URL of each tweet. (1 entry per tweet)

- Like Susan Heim on Parenting on Facebook and/or follow on Networked Blogs. (1 entry for each; leave 2 comments)

- Subscribe to Susan Heim on Parenting via email, RSS, Google Friend Connect and/or Kindle. Leave a comment for each subscription method. (1 entry for each subscription method for up to 4 entries)

- Place a button for Susan Heim on Parenting on your blog and/or a text link on your blog roll. Post a comment with your blog’s URL. (1 entry for button; 1 entry for text link)

- Enter another current giveaway on Susan Heim on Parenting. (1 entry per giveaway entered)

One winner will be randomly selected from the qualified comments received by Friday, November 11, 2011, at 11:59 PM ET. Please leave an email address on one of your comments if it’s not available on your Blogger profile. Winner must respond to the notification email within 72 hours or another winner will be drawn. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner: kayte71!


Tiny Prints: Beautiful Holiday Photo Cards, Plus a Photo Contest!

We have a lot of out-of-state relatives and friends, and I love to include family photos in our Christmas cards so people can see how much my boys are growing and changing. It’s always a difficult task taking a picture in which everyone looks good and getting the boys to cooperate! But one thing that’s not difficult is finding a photo card I like. At Tiny Prints, they have a huge selection of Christmas photo cards. Look at some of the beautiful cards I found on their site for this year:


I love how many of the designs come in different color options. And it’s easy to search for just the right card according to your number of photos, themes, card sizes, prices, design styles, and much more. You can also pick up some holiday address labels for your cards at Tiny Prints. I love these designs:


And don’t forget the holiday party invitations for your Christmas open house!


Personalized holiday photo cards from Tiny Prints are memorable, affordable, and unique! I’m in love with their selection and convenience. I hope you’ll visit www.tinyprints.com this season to order your cards, address labels, and invitations!

TINY PRINTS PHOTO CONTEST:

If you’ve got a family photo you love, you’ll want to enter it in the 3rd annual Tiny Prints Talent Search Contest! Enter for a chance to win the grand prize of $1,000 cash, plus a $500 Tiny Prints gift certificate! They’re looking for the cutest photos in the following categories:

• Cutest Baby (From ages of 0-24 months)
• Cutest Kid (From ages of 25 months to 10 years old)
• Cutest Family
• Cutest Couple
• Cutest Pet & Owner

After the entry period is over, the Tiny Prints Community will vote to determine the winners! Here are the key dates of the contest:

• Entry Period: 10/24/11 -11/15/11
• Community Voting: 11/16/11 - 11/28/11
• Finalist Voting Period: 12/2/11 - 12/15/11
• Winner Announcement: 12/21/12

You can also enter the Tiny Print Talent Search Contest via Facebook. For Official Rules, click here.