Thursday, July 23, 2015

LeapFrog Product Review: LeapPad Platinum and Imagicard

Disclosure - I received these products for review by LeapFrog.  However, all opinions expressed and given in this blog post are entirely mine!

Wifi for my kids on thier LeapPAD, what?!?!?!?  I was nervous.  The internet is a bit of a difficult thing for me as a parent.  I want the kids to know how to use technology, so I am not about to bury my head in the sand and assume that they will learn on their own.  Guidance it key in this, and even though it is a difficult job keeping on top internet safety and proper usage for young kids.  With a house full of kids at various ages from 14 to 18 months, I sometimes feel exhausted in this never ending job.  It is our job to know and stay on top of the latest and greatest apps and trends.  The LeapPAD Platinum makes this easy for parents with the ability to allow limited browsing abilities for children to watch appropriate videos read new articles and play learning related internet games.  There are several different categories of exploration that is sure to intrigue all different children (and maybe even the adults in your house).

The WiFi feature eliminates the need to connect to the computer, but allows a parent to directly interface with LeapFrog to add content to the device.  This makes my life way easier, as I am often too lazy to find a cord and log on through my computer; yes, I am that parent!

I love the easy to find time limit settings that allow electronic play for 1 hour and then require a 4 hour break for the device.  It moves the timer from my kitchen counter to the device itself.

The rest of the LeapPAD Platinum’s functionality is very similar to the previous versions of the LeapPAD.  The new screen design is closer to that of "adult" tablets, and I hope it is more durable than the last model, as my previous one ended up with a crushed screen, and was unusable.

LeapFrog Imagicard Review:

This LeapFrog product brings characters to life by scanning a card.  This is an introduction to the picture-scanning concept at a young age, plus the tactile experience that takes you away from an actual screen.

My kids had a great time watching their PAWs friends “come to life” with the snapping of a photo, the characters help them with math concepts and logical reasoning.  I love the phonic and word recognition curriculum that comes with the Letter Factory Carnival cards.  It is amazing to see my 5 year old learning to read before he even starts kindergarten. 

The ability to “hide” educational information in a card takes the LeapFrog concept and expands it even further. Imagicard takes educational information and presents it to the kids in a way that is fun and interactive.  Every parent loves some down time that screens and electronics provide, but we also worry about how much is too much and trying to limit the time spent plugged in when the weather is great!  I love that LeapFrog keeps working to create things for kids to do that are tactile in conjunction with the electronics.

I would recommend these products to all parents looking for educational screen time.  The time limits are the best feature in my mind!  Have fun and watch the learning take place under your own eyes.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Circle Skirt Instructions

Skirts are fun projects to create for people of all ages, but little girls skirts are pure magic!  They take up minimal fabric and take less than 1 hour to make.  My sister wanted to make a skirt for her girls - something fun and kind of fancy.  Initially when she was describing it to me I was thinking a skirt out of a rectangular piece of fabric with gathers around to create a fullness to the skirt.  I am so glad that she sent me this picture as an inspiration:
From delia creates
With that I realized that what she wanted was a circle skirt.  So I decided to make my little princess (who happens to be only 6 hours older than one of the little ladies for whom she was making the skirts).  Initially I was thinking that I was only going to make a single layered skirt, but after browsing my stash and finding fabric for the skirt, I had a perfect match for the bottom in some gold chiffon-like material.
Here is what I sent to her as my instructions:
  1. Out of all layers of the skirt – outer fabric, tulle, chiffon, lining, etc.: Cut out 2 concentric circles.  For size 3T (ish): the big circle is 15.5” in diameter.  The little one is 3.5” in diameter. If you want the skirt to fall a little shorter, make the outer circle smaller.  I folded the fabric twice and set the corner as the center of my circles, so I was cutting a ¼ of a circle through 4 layers of fabric - for each layer.
  2. Baste all layers of the skirt together at the inner circle.
  3.  Cut a 24” x 3” strip of fabric for the waistband/elastic casing. Leave yourself a 2” ‘tail’ in the beginning, sew the waistband to the inside of the skirt – wrong side of skirt layers to right side of the waistband (you will fold it around the layers to finish it so that the right side is also showing in the front).
  4. As you come to the beginning of the waistband, you will need to sew the 2 short ends together to form a circle. (That is why you left 2” in the beginning.  It should be easy to sew those 2” to the end of the waistband)
  5. Flip the band over the top of the skirt, fold ½”  under and top stitch around the front of the skirt – leave a 1” opening for the elastic at the back of the skirt.
  6. Measure the waist of the girl – add 1” and cut elastic.  Feed elastic through the casing, overlap 1” and sew ends together with zig-zag stitches.
  7. Close opening by top stitching casing closed.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Cyber Monday - Etsy Holiday Gift Guide

When I participated in the Etsy Holiday Gift Guide, there was a guide that went along with it.  However, being that I was still prepping for our Thanksgiving trip, I was not quite in the gifting mood.
Because today is Cyber Monday, I figured it would be a good time to share the gift guide.  Click on the link for the guide.  I will be visiting most of these shops today as I look to support small businesses and find unique hand crafted items for the people on my list.
I have also added several items to my Etsy shop this weekend.
Thank you for taking the time to look.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

LeapTV Product Review {Promotional Post}

Note: I was provided with the LeapTV product, loaded game content, and an extra controller to review and keep for my use.  All opinions expressed here are my own and in no way influenced by those providing the LeapFrog materials.

Photo curtesy of LeapFrog
I had a great opportunity to use and review the latest product from LeapFrog.  LeapTV is an interactive gaming system geared toward a young audience, ages 3-8 years.  Generally, I hand over the LeapFrog products to my kids and let them go to town, and then provide you with a review of the materials as an observer.  I do often get in and use the products myself or let the kids show me how things work.  Today, I decided to go about this a little differently; my husband and I went to take the first test drive of the LeapTV gaming system, and here are our thoughts:

Pros:
  • As with all LeapFrog products, you can set different users to have different difficulty levels, which while playing together as a large group allows the younger kids to have the Pre-School questions while the older one have the Elementary school based questions. 
  • A large variety of games are available for LeapTV, filling interests in many categories; there is something for everyone.  And many of your favorite LeapFrog Characters make appearances in the games.
  • The camera picks up details of movement extremely well when using your body as a controller, as long as there is not a lot of clutter in the background.


Cons:
  •  The game controllers are a bit difficult to maneuver.  The post controller is at an angle, so occasionally when I felt like I was moving left or right, I ended up crouching or not jumping high enough – this occurred especially in the Spiderman game
  • Some navigation on screen when exiting games was confusing – I thought I was quitting games and ended up circling back and forth a few times before getting where I wanted.
  • There were also a few times that the controllers became disconnected in the middle of a game, while we were using them, causing a disruption in our play.  And when they seemed to interfere with the camera/body control.


When trying out the system, we played the following games:
  1. LeapFrog Kart Racing: Supercharged!: Initially, I bounced from walls to walls, but by the 3rd lap, I was starting to get the hang of it.  I am sure that the kids will have the racing mastered in no time, but I am glad that we played the middle level of difficulty.
  2. LeapFrog Dance & Learn: We did the jungle jam.  The sounding out of words was a bit difficult to hear, and there were times that a repeat would have been nice.  It was great to bounce around and grab the stars for extra points.
  3. Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man: There is so much to do on each of these levels – collecting pictures, defeating ‘bad guys,’ navigating through stages by crawling on walls, ceilings and jumping over holes.  This game is enjoyed by my older kids, as well.  The pointer play is great fun as you fling webs at the Octobots and cruise through the city like Spider-Man swinging from building to building.
  4. LeapFrog Sports:
    • Baseball, Home run Derby: After super charging your bat with math problems, each player gets a chance to hit 5 pitches at the different rings set up in the outfield.  The pitches were difficult to time, as some were very slow, some oscillated back and forth, and others were very fast.  I feel like the more that you play the game; the better you will be able to judge the correct time to swing.
    • Soccer, Goalie: This was super fun to use Body Motion to block shots from the ball blaster.  Water Balloons are also thrown in to see if you are paying attention.
Photo curtesy of LeapFrog

Bottom Line: The content is what you expect from LeapFrog – excellently tailored to the Pre-school and early elementary aged children to supplement their at home and at school curriculum.  The few quirks in the control and navigation of the LeapTV, are places for improvement, but not detrimental to the operation of LeapTV.




Don't forget to enter the giveaway here!

Make your day Fantastic! 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Etsy Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway

I have a super exciting announcement today...  About a month ago, I was contacted via Etsy Conversation by Maggie from The Love Nerds as she was putting together an Etsy Shop Holiday Gift Guide.  After considering the opportunity, I decided it was too good to pass up.  There are over 40 bloggers and Etsy shops participating in this event.  When you get a change pop over to her blog and let her know how awesome she is for the hard work she has put into making this a reality.

I have a few things that I am hoping to add to my shop in the next couple of days.

I have connected with fabulous Etsy shops and some of my blogger friends to bring you this Etsy Holiday Giveaway which celebrates the creative genius of these shop owners and their handmade items. Some items might be perfect for you to gift to your mother, daughter or even co-worker. Other items you might covet for yourself. Whichever you choose, we hope you will cherish the prizes the shops have donated.

Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! 

AND, if the prizes aren't enough, the bloggers have pooled together to offer one $200 Etsy gift card so you can purchase gifts yourself!!

Here's how it will work: There will be SIX winners! Maggie will contact each of the winners directly to choose their preferred prize. First winner will have first pick and so on. The prizes are a $200 Etsy gift card and 5 Prize Packages detailed below {Christmas, Kids, Family and Home, Kitchen/Baking, and Stocking Stuffers.

Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse!
Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! 

Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! 
Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! 
Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse!

Now, to the giveaway!! With over 40 shops and bloggers, there are LOTS of entry options. They are organized by social media platform, so you can easily follow on your preferred methods. Plus, don't forget to check out the Etsy Holiday Gift Guide for some gift ideas!

I have connected with fabulous Etsy shops and some of my blogger friends to bring you this Etsy Holiday Giveaway which celebrates the creative genius of these shop owners and their handmade items. Some items might be perfect for you to gift to your mother, daughter or even co-worker. Other items you might covet for yourself. Whichever you choose, we hope you will cherish the prizes the shops have donated.

Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! {The Love Nerds}" width="700" height="1050" />

AND, if the prizes aren't enough, the bloggers have pooled together to offer one $200 Etsy gift card so you can purchase gifts yourself!!
Here's how it will work: There will be SIX winners! I will contact each of the winners directly to choose their preferred prize. First winner will have first pick and so on. The prizes are a $200 Etsy gift card and 5 Prize Packages detailed below {Christmas, Kids, Family and Home, Kitchen/Baking, and Stocking Stuffers.

Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! {The Love Nerds}" width="700" height="980" />
Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! {The Love Nerds}" width="700" height="980" />
Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! {The Love Nerds}" width="700" height="980" />
Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! {The Love Nerds}" width="700" height="980" />
Etsy Holiday Giveaway with 6 winners - $200 Etsy<span style= 
gift card and 5 prize packages up for grabs! PLUS, an awesome Etsy Holiday Gift Guide to browse! {The Love Nerds}" width="700" height="980" />
Now, to the giveaway!! With over 40 shops and bloggers, there are LOTS of entry options. They are organized my social media platform, so you can easily follow on your preferred methods. Plus, don't forget to check out the Etsy Holiday Gift Guide for some gift ideas!

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

100 Days of Happiness: 65 days in!

In the past few weeks, I have neglected to update the 100 Days of Happiness Challenge that I started at the end of July.  See below for the highlights since day 27:
Day 31: Two little boys while we camped for the final time this summer.
Day 35: The Back to School Ice Cream Social day!
Day 36: Watching 5 kiddos hop on the bus the first day of school!  Back to routine, and I LOVE it.
Day 37: Enjoying my delicious Keweenaw Coffee Works coffee in my new cup = Perfect Morning.
Day 41: I spent a couple hours in the blueberry patch. 
Day 42: The middle dude celebrated his birthday with 2 of his cousins.
Day 44: Road trip with my sisters - to meet the others.
Day 46: Large American flag along the highway that you could see for miles. 
Day 48: Got to see some of my favorites at an 8th grade football game.
Day 52: I looked up one evening and saw these small stacking objects in the railing.  Kids are so interesting.
Day 54: I caught my boys making faces into the mixing bowl -
I remember doing the same thing when I was a kid.
Day 59: I made these shirts for my girls last weekend. They think they are awesome.  
The knit was so easy to sew; I am looking forward to my next project!
Day 63: I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, so the chairs became a fort for the littles.
Day 64: My magic mom shoes.  My mom sent these to me, while I was expecting #8, occasionally I take them out.  The 5 year old is very skeptical of their magical abilities and insists they are not as magic as Santa!

Happiness is a choice!

Linked up to some of these Parties!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hug a Pillow - Saying Good-bye and Good Luck

Late this summer, we learned that a friend of ours was moving 500 miles south for a large portion of the this school year.  My kids were so sad, because she always made time for them - coming over to visit at sporting events, hauling them to get ice cream, even coming to our house occasionally to hang out.

I was trying to think of something that would let her know that we love her and would miss her, but also a bit unsure what a teenager would appreciate/use.  I finally decided a small pillow would be easy to fit, take with on trips, and cozy up with if she got lonely.


I started with red and blue jersey and some grey/white polkadots.
I had this jersey sitting around for a few months, and I was a bit nervous to try it out because of the stretchy/softness.  The pillow was a perfect project to try it out.  All I needed was 2 squares, so that should be easy... wrong! This particular knit stretched in both directions, making it difficult to make perfect squares.  Carefully laying the fabric out and not sliding the ruler, I was able to get the faces of the pillow cut out.  

I decided to add a  ruffled edge with the polkadots. I cut 4" strips of the fabric and sewed them together to make a long rectangle 1.5 times the perimeter of the cut squares.  Folding it in half, I ironed wrong sides together, and began creating the pleats.\

1. Lay the folded ironed fabric next to a ruler

2. Pull the fabric over 1/2" and pin in place.

3. Slide the new pleat to the 3" mark and repeat the process until the length of the fabric is pleated.

4. Baste pleats in place.

5. Sandwich between the pillow panels and sew together, leaving an opening for a pillow for or stuffing.

After stuffing or inserting a pillow form, it is the perfect gift to give someone you love - have the kids hug it for extra comfort!

Happiness is a choice!

Linked up to some of these parties.

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