Winter Walk

by Virginia Snow

I love the unique illustrations in this beautiful winter book. Line drawings cover the pages with colored images highlighting parts of the woods that kids are learning about. “Grammy”  takes her grandkids on a winter adventure and as they explore the woods, they discover different birds, trees, animals and snowflakes. The book educates kids in a simple, illustrative way and even gives two crafts at the end (paper snowflake and pinecone bird feeder).

Beautiful Moon

by Tonya Bolden

This book has just hit the top of my list for bedtime stories to read with my girls. I LOVE it. It tells the story of a little boy who almost forgot to say his bedtime prayers and then goes through the people and things he prays for. It is a great reminder for both children and adults not only to pray, but the types of things that are important to pray for (like the homeless and the hungry). The boy prays for several “mature” things but also for his teacher to read a book every day at school. It is delightful and sweet and the illustrations are beyond beautiful. Although we are Christians, the book actually doesn’t even mention God or who exactly the boy is praying to so it would be appropriate for different religions.

“Can’t Wait Willow” and “Must Have Marvin”

by Christy Ziglar

These books by the niece of Zig Ziglar are fantastic! They have so many elements children love, including adorable illustrations. In both of these stories, the main characters Willow and Marvin are following their child desires for immediate gratification only to fall disappointed in the end because they didn’t hold out for what they really wanted. They teach a great lesson to children and make them think about the impulses the characters are making with a star that can be found on every page showing an emotion based on the character’s decisions. All families should add these books to their libraries!

Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas

by DK Simoneau and David Radman

Our family loves Christmas books. We read them year round! When we read this book we all adored it. It is so funny and it’s different from other Santa stories. It takes you through a Christmas eve night where nothing went the way it was supposed to and it all began with Santa having to do his own laundry. It’s a very fun story and all young children who love Santa with enjoy this book.

The Man With the Violin

by Kathy Stinson

I love this book, perhaps because I am a former violinist. While this is clearly a children’s book it is actually a great reminder for adults to slow down and pay attention to the small details that children don’t seem to miss. This story is based on the true story of Joshua Bell, who played his Stradivarius in a D.C. train station and was barely noticed. The boy in the story, Dylan noticed the violinist and was moved. The music stays with Dylan, coloring his drab day and he eventually hears him on the radio later on. It is a moving story and it has nice illustrations. Children probably won’t appreciate the moral of the story as much as adults, but it is still a great one for kids to hear.

50 Below Zero

by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)

This is a silly little story that is a nice short read for young children. Jason’s dad is a sleep walker and ends up in the most unlikely places and on one particular, snowy night, Jason’s father’s sleepwalking wakes Jason up. Jason finds himself chasing his father around the house where he ends up having to bring him inside from the snow. Kids find it funny to see what silly places (and poses) Jason’s father will be in next! It is a simple board book that is perfect for a short, humorous read.

Under Wraps

This movie was a definite schocker! I’m not usually into zombies, mummies or science fiction, but this really wasn’t like that.  It was totally different than anything I have seen before, but I really enjoyed watching it with my daughter. It kept my interest, the acting and the animation was good and the moral was very family oriented. It has a clever story line and in the end the family of four learns a lot about each other and becomes closer. It is a great movie to watch around Halloween, but it’s not really a Halloween movie so it is perfect to add to your family’s DVD collection for any time of year. It would definitely appeal to boys, but my daughter really, really likes it too. She is only four and it didn’t scare her, so you don’t have to worry about that factor either. It is a well made animated movie by ARC Entertainment and I recommend it to any family with young kids!
under wrapsAVAILABLE ON DVD: October 14, 2014
DIRECTOR: Gordon Crum

WRITER: Allison Ross

CAST: Brooke Shields, Drake Bell, Matthew Lillard

SYNOPSIS: Danny and older sister Eleanor fall into an adventure of a lifetime when Danny accidentally unleashes a centuries old curse involving mummies, phaoroahs and nefarious villains! When their archeologist parents go on an expedition to an ancient Pharoah’s last resting place, Danny sneaks into the tomb and finds a sacred amulet, which he takes home. When he accidentally breaks the amulet, all sorts of chaos follows, starting with his parents turning into mummies! Eleanor and Danny frantically look for clues to solve this nightmare but the police, an evil assistant, and a mysterious visitor from the past are suddenly getting too close for comfort.

DISTRIBUTOR: ARC Entertainment

Francis And Eddie

Francis And Eddie caught my attention immediately for the unique and very cool illustrations.  It also appeared different from most of the children’s books that I come across being a non-fiction and historical sports story. Targeted at ages 6-10, it is the true story of 20-year-old unknown amateur golfer Francis Ouimet, his 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery and their astonishing triumph at the 1913 U.S. Open in Brookline, MA.  At its heart, it’s really a book about kids who loved golf and became champions.

Admittedly I am not a golf fan. Actually I am not a sports fan in general. But, I read this book and truly enjoyed it! I love stories where the underdogs win and when it’s a true story it always leaves an impression. I think my favorite part about the story, however, was the respect and adoration the caddie received from Ouimet. I mean, who doesn’t cheer for a sweet young kid with innocence and passion?!

This really is a wonderful story and I imagine that golfers, both young and old, can appreciate all it stands for. Oh, and I can’t forget to emphasize that the illustrations were as neat as I thought they would be. Beautiful depictions of people, combining insane realism with a caricature dynamic.

Time For A New Mattress?

novosbedWhew! You got through the holidays! How well did you sleep during this crazy time of year? Being out of town and staying at a few different houses and sleeping on different types of beds emphasized to me the importance of a nice mattress. It effects not only how well you sleep, but how fast you fall asleep and how your body feels in the morning. If you have started to look into getting a new bed for yourself, or even a new bed for your child consider a Novosbed. I got to try out this really nice memory foam mattress that is an incredible value.

Novosbed is the zero-risk memory foam mattress company. They match Tempur-Pedic quality at a third of the price – then raises the bar with free two-way shipping, a 120–night trial, and a 25 year warranty to ensure customers are deliriously happy. They offer the longest sleep trial in the industry – so instead of testing out a mattress for 10 minutes at a showroom, you can literally sleep on it for 4 months to ensure it is the best fit for you. (If you do decide to return it, a local moving company will promptly pick it up at no cost for you.)

Here’s how Novosbed.com memory foam mattresses differ:

– They’re made in the USA (Manufacturing in the United States is subject to greater rigor than China – plus American environmental regulations are stricter than their Chinese counterparts.)

– The most popular sizes sell for under $1,000 sonata-0

– They have the longest sleep trial in the industry for 120-nights

– Free shipping anywhere in the U.S.

– All of Novosbed’s memory foam products are CertiPUR-US® tested and approved, guaranteeing the safest and highest quality memory foam mattresses and pillows on the market

When we got one I was impressed with the quality. Even the fabric covering the memory foam is soft and comfortable.  Our medium-firm queen sized “Sonata” (gel memory foam)came with two memory foam pillows and is crazy comfortable. Novosbed.com gives very accurate descriptions of their mattresses, describing the feel and comparing it to other memory foam brands (Tempur-Pedic, Sealy and Serta) and comparing the firmness to spring mattresses. You can confidently choose a bed that you think will work for you and have no worries even if you decide you don’t like it with their long 120 day trial and free shipping both ways. The bed arrives compressed and packaged in 3 protective layers, expands within a few hours of being removed from the packaging and is ready for use within 4-6 hours.

novosflowI have heard a lot of people complain that memory foam mattresses are too hot. Novosbed addresses this concern with NovosFlow technology. In all memory foam mattresses a memory foam layer is glued to a support foam layer. Foam is a natural insulator and foam mattresses of all kinds are generally warmer than spring mattresses. For people that have never slept on a foam mattress before, it can take a night or two to get used to. Discount memory foam mattress manufacturers glue the memory foam layer to the bottom layer without separation, leaving their mattresses with no internal ventilation. Some manufacturers argue that memory foam’s open-cell structure is enough for sufficient air flow, but the fact is that without separation between layers, you may feel unpleasantly warm during the night. This is why all Novosbed memory foam mattresses feature a NovosFlow air flow layer between the memory foam and the support foam that promotes air circulation throughout the mattress. Novosflow is designed to ensure your mattress stays a comfortable temperature throughout the night.

Novosbed has gone above and beyond to provide consumers with an extremely pleasant buying process, excellent customer service and a high quality product at a very affordable price. If you are looking for a new bed for anyone in your home Novosbed is absolutely worth considering, especially if you are already leaning toward a memory foam mattress. And, really, anything that has a true zero risk should be explored because THAT is hard to find! Novosbed.com

Year End Product Round Up

Trying new products is such a fun thing to do and bring to my fellow parents. This is my biggest round up ever, closing out the year with some fantastic products for parents and kids. Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket? Try out one of these great finds!

snooze shadeSnooze Shade

The snooze shade comes in very handy for parents on the go and for families that do a lot of traveling. The lightweight fabric mesh blocks UV rays from your child in their car seat or stroller and has a wonderful “window” you can close for when you want your child to be able to snooze without distractions. They were smart enough to use snaps in the design instead of Velcro so if you want to peek in on baby you won’t wake her! It attaches very easily to a variety of strollers and rolls up to a small size that fits in diaper bags and luggage. It really is a wonderful accessory for kids that need to snooze on the go. From $39.99, snoozeshadeusa.com

venettiniVenettini & Western Chief Kids Shoes

Oh my cuteness! We got our hands on a pair of incredibly trendy, neon patent leather loafers from Venettini and a pair of sparkly, adorable practical shoes from Western Chief Kids. Both are from Venettini extremely high quality, nice shoes and my daughter loved them both. The loafers are by far the nicest shoes she has had on her feet. Every part is made with high quality materials and the insole is super padded. They were a little narrow for my daughter’s chubby feet, but a wonderful pair of shoes nonetheless. They are definitely shoes that will get attention anywhere they are worn! western chief kidsThe shoes from Western Chief’s glitter collection are awesome everyday/school shoes. They have a rubber, sneaker-type sole that is durable but the styles in the collection are more sleek, stylish and girly than your standard sneakers. They look adorable with the cute clothes your daughter loves to wear and they will hold up to daily wear. Venettini, from $60, Western Chief Kids, from $30, washingtonshoe.com

RufflebuttsRuffle Butts/Rugged Butts

With 2 girls, I am addicted to ruffles and frill. Ruffle Butts is a company that has an adorable selection of ruffled accessories for girls (bloomers, diaper covers, leg warmers, swimwear, tees, dresses, hats and more). And, for those families with boys they even have an awesome line for boys, Rugged Butts (tops, bottoms, hats, swimwear, bloomers and more)! It is the place to find those adorable ties, faux suspenders, jackets and fedora hats that the trendiest of boys wear. Everything that this company has for girls and boys is cute, cute, cute! Definitely go check it out and be prepared to fill your shopping cart. They even offer free shipping on orders over $20. Rufflebutts.com and Ruggedbutts.com

back to sleep bearBack to Sleep Bear

Teaching babies to sleep and self soothe is such a tough task. We used a sound machine with both of our babies that has a maximum run time of 45 minutes. Any time baby would wake up we would go in and start with turning the soothing sound back on. The Back to Sleep Bear is a perfect sound machine because it stays on while baby goes to sleep (5 minutes) and automatically turns on again when baby cries or if the bear is jostled (with sound and motion sensors). You can keep the bear in the crib as a stuffed animal (with the soundbox tucked safely inside the bear) or you can hang it on the side of the crib. We had it hanging on our crib and the movement feature still worked because our daughter likes to kick her feet on the mattress when she wakes up, and that shakes the bed enough to turn the bear back on. Another nice feature to the sound machine is that you can record your own voice/sound instead of using one of the built-in ones. One of the sounds it comes with is actual womb sounds, recorded in the womb. The bear comes with a soft “silkie” that you can tuck into your clothes to put your scent on and baby can snuggle with it. It serves as a back up “lovey” in our daughter’s bed. This is a great sleep aid and is a wonderful addition to a baby’s nursery. $39, princelionheart.com

Funnybone-Toys-GamesFunnybone Toys

Games are so much fun for kids and families. The trick can be finding games that are appropriate for a large age range. Funnybone Toys has achieved this colossal task with a large selection of incredible games that encourage thinking and creativity, are small in their (artistic) packaging and are unique. They are a true combination of form, function and beautiful minimalistic design. The games that we tried out were so cool that our 3 year old could actually play a version of them, while mom and dad could truly be entertained for hours.  Disruptus asks players to look at objects and ideas and use different approaches, as determined by the roll of a die to innovate. Arrazzles lets you explore abstract geometrical configurations. Array is a colorful take on dominoes where players compete to place the highest number of multi-color cards into connecting patterns. Spectrix is a colorful take on the classic game of Rummy, played in multiple fast paced rounds. The object is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in your hand by placing them into color sequences based on the order of colors on the Spectrix guide card or into collections of the same color. CUBU has you try to follow number and color sequences with visual illusion that leads to confusion. It forces players to use their left and right brains at the same time. Any of these games would be wonderful for a family of game-playing thinkers! $24.99, funnybonetoys.com.

baby comfy noseBaby Comfy Nose

This is one mom who ha always despised the nasal aspirator/bulb syringe that they give out at the hospital. I have always refused to use it. They just gross me out. They can’t be cleaned! They are a source of virus-laden mucus that your are putting back into your child’s nose, or worse a sibling’s nose. Not to mention they can be used incorrectly if you squeeze the bulb while it’s in your baby’s nose. So, when I got information about the Baby Comfy Nose I was apprehensive. After looking into it and hearing some great feedback I decided I would go out of my comfort zone and give it a shot. Well, it won me over. I can’t say that it doesn’t gross me out (the sound of snot coming out makes me gag), but I am an official user! The design is actually pretty brilliant. It has a fat, rounded tip that fits comfortably at your baby’s nostril, the snot goes into a tissue that you can throw away and you can completely clean the entire unit (it’s even dishwasher safe) and it uses human suction as the power to really get snot out from high in the nasal passages. Yes, human suction means you suck the snot out with your mouth. But don’t worry, there is no way for any snot to get anywhere near your mouth! My daughter had a pretty gnarly cold and any time I used the Baby Comfy Nose I got a ton of snot out and her nose wouldn’t run for close to 2 hours! When I didn’t use it, her nose ran constantly. I was in total shock. This thing seriously rocks. Get one for each child-you will love it. $14.95, babycomfynose.com

loopygearLoopy Gear

You know that great game of fetch that babies like to play? The one where they repeatedly drop a toy just so you can pick it back up for them? As fun as that is for you to play with them, Loopy Gear takes the floor out of the equation. This simple yet ingenious invention has two Velcro loops-one for the car seat/stroller/high chair/shopping cart or baby’s wrist and one for a toy-connected by a strap so when baby lets go, the toy doesn’t hit the ground. It is perfect for when you are on the go, when a dropped toy can get filthy or go unnoticed and end up gone forever. When they get dirty all you have to do is toss it in the washing machine. They come in a huge variety of colors and patterns and would make a great, unique baby shower gift. $15.99, loopygear.com.

emi jay doodleEmi Jay Doodle Hair Bands

These elastic hair bands are all the rage. They are easy on hair, double as bracelets and are great for mixing and matching. They come in adorable packaging, one that looks like a box of crayons that my daughter thought was so cool. They come in beautiful colors and patterns for every outfit. I love that an everyday ponytail gets jazzed up without the need of an extra hair clip which often times falls out when girls are very active. They are handmade in the USA and 20% of profits go to charity. From $6.99, emi-jay.com.

badaboum dulcetBadaBoum Dulcet Sleep Sack

I really like using a sleep sack once my babies are out of the swaddle but not yet ready for a loose blanket. I have quite a few cotton and fleece ones, which are all relatively similar. But, when I got my hands on the BadaBoum sleep sack it stood out as being different from the rest. The BadaBoum is like an actual quilt covering your baby instead of a light sheet or blanket. It is thick with batting to provide warmth and comfort and it features shoulder snaps and bottom/side zipper to allow for quick and easy diaper changes. My wiggly 10 month old doesn’t particularly like getting dressed or put into our other sleep sacks, but this one is so easy to get her in and own that she doesn’t make a fuss. It is very roomy so it doesn’t restrict movement and they have two sizes to fit up to a 32” baby. Wear it over pajamas that are appropriate for room temperature (recommended for room temperature up to 73 degrees F) and your baby will be as cozy as you all night long! $47, bada-boum.com

cicciabella mishkaCicciaBella Slippers

I live in slippers year round. I hate walking on cold wood and ceramic floors. I always love trying out new slippers and cozy footwear. CicciaBella has an amazing selection of slippers for moms and kids. Their Vintage Cowgirls collection is adorable with their cowboy boot style slippers, their Kwilts collection is dainty with a knit design and faux fur liner and the Mishi collection is a durable boot style with indoor/outdoor soles. I got to try out the incredible Mishka slipper. They have an indoor/outdoor sole, are lined with faux fur and have adorable faux fur pom poms. They are sized like slippers (SM-XL) and are cozy like slippers but the sole is as durable as an actual boot. You can totally wear these out of the house! They don’t have the structure in the heel that a real boot has, but other than that they are as close to a real boot as you can get. I was impressed with how warm my feet got in comparison to my real shearling slippers and boots-they were every bit as warm! They are the best slipper to go from your house to running errands in around town. From $34, available at Amazon

KnixWearKnix Wear

This underwear has a virtually undetectable, chemical-free, anti-microbial stain release hidden in comfortable yet sexy, seamless styles. Knix Wear is a revolutionary women’s underwear brand that targets the 1 in 3 women that experience the occasional “light leak” – also known as stress incontinence – when they laugh, sneeze, cough or exercise. Each pair features Knix’s patented Fresh Fix Technology, a thin yet super absorbent gusset that wicks away moisture and eliminates odor to keep women feeling fresh and dry all day long. The high-tech lining is so comfortable and comforting, you won’t be able to feel it but you will feel protected in any situation – when you perspire, have your period, sneeze or laugh just a little too hard.  Perfect for pregnant women and new moms. From $28, knixwear.com

Braun-Forehead-ThermometerBraun Forehead Thermometer

I have used many types of thermometers and never really fell in love with any of them. Regular digital thermometers take too long when a baby hates having it held under their armpit, arterial thermometers are very inconsistent in their readings and the angle of an ear thermometer changes what you get. When I tried the Braun Forehead Thermometer I loved everything about it. It was easy to use, gave a consistent reading and its design is excellent. The thermometer’s fever guidance system indicates the severity of each reading with a green, yellow or red light, helping parents easily decipher and monitor the status of their child’s temperature. The Braun Forehead Thermometer’s built-in infrared technology takes multiple readings during each forehead swipe, processing the readings using a unique algorithm for an accurate measurement. The thermometer automatically converts the final reading to the oral temperature equivalent, which is important when communicating with pediatricians and would normally be obtained through a more invasive under-the-tongue thermometer.  The backlit screen is huge, with large numbers so you can read it even in a dark bedroom. It is by far the best thermometer I have ever used! $49.99, braunthermometers.com.