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Monday, December 13, 2010

Longaberger does handbags???

Wow!  Did you know that Longaberger now does handbags?  I had no idea.  I thought that Longaberger was exclusively all about baskets.  Boy was I wrong!  And over the next two days, they are on sale.  You can order them on Longaberger's website.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Leapfrog's Leapster Explorer

We were in the store recently and Matthew found the display for the new Leapster Explorer.  We weren't in any hurry that day, so I allowed him to play with the display model for a while to see if he liked it.  Well, he loved it!  He was able to try out Toy Story 3 and Penguins of Madagascar.  Both games are appropriate for his age, and challenge him to learn new things.

Matthew already had a Vtech V.Smile Pocket that we got him 2 years ago and he also had the Vtech Vmotion system that hooks up to the TV.   We made a deal that he had to go through the games that he no longer plays and sell them and his V.Smile Pocket on ebay to earn the money for the new Leapster Explorer.  He was able to earn enough money to buy the system and a new game!  He chose Toy Story 3. 

Leapfrog also offers LeapFrog Connect.  This allows you to hook up the Leapfrog Explorer for added content.  I was able to also download demo versions of The Penguins of Madagascar and Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleburg.  You can also buy Leaplet cards to download more games, ebooks, videos and more.

 Parents can also see their child's progress on the Learning Path.  You can view the results in a few differen ways.  You are able to see the amount of time that the child has played the game, the types of questions they answered, the percentage they answered correctly, and more.

I love being able to see his progress.  And I can utilize this as a way to reinforce and supplement some of the skills he is learning in preschool and at home.  There are characters that he loves and it fosters an interest in learning.  In the past, I have allowed him to play Nintendo DS, but what I have found with him is that it tends to lead to aggressive behavior when he reaches levels that he can not beat.  The Leapster Explorer adapts to your child's level.  So the content will remain challenging and encouraging without becoming impossible.  It also integrates with online content that we can play together in Leap World.  His favorite right now is a game with a scale where you balance the weight of various things or people.  He thinks it's funny to put an Ape, dog and Piano on one side and a bowling ball, mouse, and motorcyle on the other.  But he learning also about weights and measures because he sees the heavier side go down.  There is also a mode where they give you two objects and you choose which is heavier.  Another game involves sorting items for recycling by paper, plasic, or aluminum.  Which is a skill he can use at home in real life too.

Overall, a very good toy.  It's regular retail price is $69.99.  There are plenty of sales and coupons out there as well.  I used two coupons at Target while it was on sale and got it for $39.99 using a Target coupon and a Manufacturer's coupon. There is a $10 coupon on the back of some of the falvored Cheerios boxes right now.

This mom approves this toy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Lower Pricing on the After Thanksgiving Sale!

Over 40 items marked down even lower!

Please note that there are new sku numbers for the reduced items.

Please see flier for updated pricing.

Available through midnight November 30, there are NO LIMITS!

Quantities are limited, while supplies last.

Shop for Christmas gifts now and receive the gift of incredible savings!

Click here for more details: After Thanksgiving Sale Flier

And you can shop direct from my site by entering the item numbers on the flier.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My late night adventure battling aliens

It was 4:00 a.m. when my three year old son crawled into my bed.  He said, "Stay really close to me."  I asked, "Why?"  He replied, "Because I don't want you to leave me in the car again while you go fight the aliens.  I want to fight with you when they come back!"  He then went into detail about the adventure we just had.

Apparently, we were out in the car driving somewhere when aliens attacked us.  I told him, "Stay in the car where it's safe.  I'll go fight the aliens."  Then I went off and tried to fight them.


Since he's a big boy now, he didn't want to be left in the car like a baby.  He wanted to help.  He said, "Mama, do you know where the aliens came from?"   I said, "No"   He replied with the most serious tone, "They come from... outer space."

He advised me that aliens can't break glass, so we are safe if we are behind glass.  I asked him if he had a dream about aliens.  He angrily corrected me.  It was NOT a dream.  It was real, and they will be back.  So I need to be ready to fight them.  And of course, don't forget to stay close.  I said, ok honey, you can fight with me.  Now get some sleep.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How do you get your kids to embrace summer reading?

This summer we have decided to participate in our local library's summer reading program.  The kids get a Treasure Map and get to fill in a circle for every 30 minutes of reading.  After four circles, they get to enter for a prize drawing.  I have found that my son is motivated by just filling in the circles and getting a sticker every time we go to the library to turn in our hours. 

Matthew's favorite books are the I Can Read books and other similar early reading books.   They are simple and include many of his favorite characters.  When we go to the library, I usually let him decide what books he wants to get and he almost always gets a few of the I Can Read books.  This week he is reading about SpiderMan and Scooby Doo.

Here are some of his favorite titles that we read over and over:

We have made it part of his bedtime routine to read books to him since he was an infant.  He doesn't like to go to bed without his storytime.  He will usually sleep with about 5 books every night.  And once he is in bed, he is allowed to look at his books for a while before going to sleep.

I have also started to incorporate other ways of learning to read.  One way is to involve him in things that are important to him.  For instance, he is allergic to eggs.  I have shown him where the ingredients are listed on food labels and began shoing him how to look for the work "egg" on the label.  If he sees the word "egg" then he will know that the food is not safe for him to eat.  I think it gives him a little more power over the situation and hope that it will also start to show him how reading in general can help him gain some power through knowledge.

By taking trips to the library, reading at bedtime, using Hooked on Phonics and providing additional reading toys, such as the Tag Reading System, Vtech Whiz Kid, Leapfrog Leapster, I am hoping to encourage a lifetime love of learning.  He's beginning to recognize words that are inmportant to him, like his own name and his favorite characters.  It's so amazing to watch him learn all these new things.  I am enjoying every second of it!

So I am curious, how do you get your kids to embrace summer reading?

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get an "I Can Read!" book. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Leapfrog Customer Care

After a long stretch of bad luck, I finally found good customer care!  Leapfrog went above and beyond to help a rather loyal customer of theirs.  We have plenty of Leapfrog toys in our home.  To fully appreciate what Leapfrog did for us, let me tell you the story of my Leapfrog Didj.

I purchased my son's black Star Wars version of the Didj direct from the Leapfrog website in November 2008. I also got two games - the Star Wars game and the Foster's game. It was pre-loaded with Jet Pack Heroes. It worked fine for several months. I do not remember exactly when, but I do believe it was probably last June 2009 that I hooked it up to the Leapfrog Connect website to check progress, etc. I was required to run an update. After the update, the Didj wouldn't work at all. First, it just wouldn't read cartidges, so I ran it again, thinking perhaps I disconnected too soon or something. After I ran it again, It didn't power back up. I tried changing to new batteries and that didn't work. I tried looking up similar problems to see if there was a fix or something that others experienced. I didn't have time to call customer care about it, so I put it up on a shelf so that my son wouldn't see it (out of sight out of mind - he's three. And yes, he actually does play the games on his own). I somehow managed to also forget where I put it.

I finally just found it last month. I had put it on a shelf completely out of my own view. Now that I had it again, I put fresh batteries in it and hooked it up to the computer to try and see if a brand new update might fix the problem. When it was plugged into the computer, it did power on. I was able to run the update and my son could play Jetpack heroes because it was pre-loaded on to the system, but he couldn't play the cartidge games,  I tried cleaning the cartridge, but that didn't seem to work. I just get the little Didj character scratching his head telling me that he can't read the cartridge.

I happened to post about it on the Facebook fan page and the nice gal that moderates the Facebook page suggested that I call customer care for a replacement.  I was suprised because I felt that it had really been too long to expect anything from Leapfrog.   But I gave it a try.  Basically, they told me that since it was out of the 90 day warranty, I was out of luck.  So, just to keep the Facebook moderator in the loop, I told her what had happened when I contacted customer care.  She then took it into her own hands and I had a new Didj in my hands within a week!

The timing was pretty good because as you may have noticed from a previous post, we are having our living room repaired.  So this "new" toy will hopefully help to keep his mind off of the fact that our house is in complete disarray!  He was pretty excited to get his Star Wars game in there and start playing again.

Matthew was really happy to see his new Star Wars Didj.  Hopefully this one will last a lot longer!  He has already started to download new micromods and spend his rewards.  I only wish I knew how to transfer the things he had earned on the old Didj.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Just entered a contest to win a V.Reader

Have you heard about the new V.Reader by Vtech?  It's kinda like a Kindle for kids.  I just entered a giveaway at Flying Giggles and Lollipops.  I am a big fan of Vtech toys. We have several Vtech toys at our house.  I have not had an opportunity to see a V.Reader in person, but I am sure that it will not be a disappointment.  For a review of the product, head over to Michelle's blog and read all about it.  She had the opportunity to test one out and review it for her readers.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cake decorating

A while back, I took a few cake decorating classes at Michael's.  It was really great to try something like this.  I am generally not a creative nor crafty person.  So the idea of decorating a cake was a huge stretch for me.  The interest was brought about by my son's egg allergies.  For his birthday, I had to call around to a lot of different bakeries to try to find one that was willing to try to do an egg-free cake for us and decorate it.  It can be a challenge because the egg-free cakes tend to be more crumbly and harder to decorate.  I figured I may need to decorate my own cakes for him.

That first year, I did finally find a bakery that was willing to do this for us at the last possible moment.  Ater that I took the cake decorating classes.  Here are some of the cakes that I made in class.  (Not egg-free)

This is my very FIRST cake that I decorated. I ran out of time to use more colors, but I think it's pretty good for a first try. Let's hope my future attempts are better!

This was my second cake. The arms look a little funny because they sort of fell off of his body on the ride home from class.

This was my third and final cake for Course 1. I was going to wait a few months at least before going on to course #2. It's actually very time consuming to bake and decorate a cake every week.

Since I took this course, Wilton has completely re-invented their cake decorating classes.  From what I could tell, they now go over things in class like leveling and frosting the cake, which is someting that I could use some help with.  I may try to take the class again in the new format.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fisher Price customer service

It is so easy to find complaints on the web. It seems that when we are angry, we like to let the world know about it.

Well, this is not another complaint. I’d like to offer some praise for the wonderful customer service that I received from Fisher Price.

My son got the Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Center for Christmas last year. A few weeks ago, he decided that he wanted to take Diego with him when we went out and about. Well, during the course of our outing, he lost Diego. And what is Diego’s Rescue Center without Diego???

I went to the toy store to see if they sold any Diego figures that would be the right size for his Rescue Center, but they were a bit bigger.

So I decided to call Fisher Price to find out if it was possible to purchase a replacement. Not only were they very kind and friendly, she said that they could send a replacement bag at no charge! And they did.

I got a bag with Diego, plus a couple of the other pieces from the set. I went to their website and found that you can order replacement parts, when available, and this set would have cost $8.00.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect them to continually send out free toys, but I think it is great that they do in some cases.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Recipe: Bean Pot Chili Frito Pie

I used my Venetian Home Beanpot and it filled all the way to the top.

1 lb. lean ground beef, browned and drained
1) 14 1/2oz. bag of original Fritos
1) 14.5oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1) 15oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
3) 15oz. cans Hormel Chili, 2 with beans, 1 no beans
1) 16oz. package Velveeta, cut in 3/4 – 1″ cubes

In a large pot, add all ingredients, except the Velveeta and Fritos, to the drained, browned ground beef. Stir well and cook over low for about 15 – 20 minutes. Layer 1/4 of the Fritos into the bottom of the beanpot, followed by 1/3 of the chili, then poke in 1/3 of the velveeta cubes, evenly. Repeat this layering 2 more times. Crumble the remaining fritos and scatter over the top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

Plumbing woes

About 10 days ago, we had to call a plumber to unclog our bathtub.  We tried to unclog it, but had no luck.  The plumber was here for about 5 minutes and then busted a pipe in the wall!  About 25 gallons of water came down through our living room ceiling and onto the floor.  Their first reaction?  It wasn't their fault!
Are you kidding me?  Their defense was that we had the "wrong" type of pipe in our wall.  Nevermind whether or not he looked to see what type of pipe we had or if he took reasonable care.

This happened one day before my husband was scheduled to take vacation.  The plumber told him to call around and get some quotes for the work.  So, my husband did so and as a result, had to call off of work the day before his vacation.  Since he works third shift, he had been awake for well over 24 hours to deal with this mess.

It took three estimates and two days for the plumber to finally realize that he would have to contact the corporate office and go through his insurance.  I don't know if he thought that 25 gallons of water breaking through the ceiling would be a small job.

After we faxed him the estimates, my husband tried calling him numerous times but the phone rang busy all morning.  When I had my lunch break at work, I called from my cell phone and got right through.  I didn't mince words with the guy.  I simply asked him what progress had been made and asked for the number of the corporate office and his insurance company.  He again tried to tell me that it wasn't really their fault because we had the wrong kind of pipe in our wall.  I told him that I don't really care what kind of pipe we had.  Other plumbers never seemed to have a problem with the pipe and I want my house fixed.  Even my three year old is upset about it.

Finally after 5 days, we were able to get a water remediation specialist in our house to bust up the ceiling and get the mold cleaned up and water dried out.  This was also my husband's birthday.

Now we are on day 10 and we are still living with a big hole in our ceiling and no real answers on when we can get a contractor in to rebuild our ceiling.  My husband's one week vacation is over.  Scheduling contractors will be a bit tricky now since he needs to sleep during the day and I do not get any vacation time at work.  If I take a day off, I do not get paid.

I am a bit angry about this and I do wonder if they would also owe us for lost vacation and/or lost wages.

Hopefully we will get some news today and it will be good news.  Keeping my fingers crossed!