Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Li'l Woodzeez - Our New Favorite Friends!

We were provided with free product to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are our own.

We always keep our eyes open for products that really mesh with our family - things that will be loved well and used well, and things that we can't wait to share with our friends... and at this time of year, the type of things that we think you will for sure want to add to your gift-giving lists!

We are so excited to introduce to you our new favorite friends - Li'l Woodzeez!

Li'l Woodzeez are the most precious little animal friends. They are manufactured and designed by Battat. According to their website, they come from Honeysuckle Hollow where all the woodland creatures work together to take care of each other and their environment. There are several families in Honeysuckle Hollow and we've invited a few into our home this fall.

I'm pleased to introduce you to the Hoppingood Rabbit Family...

Just like my kindergartener, these friends have been keeping busy at the Honeysuckle Schoolhouse with Mimi and Benjamin Handydandy from the Mouse Family.

There is nothing not to love about these little friends. They are adorable with sweet little details like pink bellies on the rabbits and flat tails on the beavers. They are soft, posable, and have removable and interchangeable clothing. They encourage imaginative play, foster positive values, and once you have one family, you're going to want to collect them all!

The Li'l Woodzeez family sets each come with a sweet book that tells about their adventures as they fulfill their role in the community. For instance, the Hoppingood Rabbit Family are farmers and the Waterwaggle Beaver Family runs a launderette! Everyone has an important job and every day is full of adventure - just like in our family, and I'm sure yours too!

The Honeysuckle Schoolhouse swings open and closed, is great for storage of animals and accessories, and is totally portable. The doors open and close and it even has a swing! As I mentioned earlier, The Honeysuckle Schoolhouse comes with Mimi and Benjamin from the Handydandy Mouse Family.

The Honeysuckle Schoolhouse does not come with furniture or accessories but these can be purchased separately in the Classroom & Playground Set. In this set you'll find the sweetest things including a chalkboard, abacus, desk, lunch boxes, books, a slide, seesaw, and even a graduation cap and gown! It's a 20-piece set and our kindergartener loves the adventures she can create with these additions to the Schoolhouse.

Just like in people-school, the Li'l Woodzeez enjoy both classroom learning...

and fun on the playground!

Li'l Woodzeez are high quality, creative, adorable, affordable, and make great gifts - for your own family or for a friend! You can find them at your local Target store or online at either Target or Amazon.

We truly love the Li'l Woodzeez and can't wait to continue adding to our collection of families, houses, and accessories. We are looking forward to having an entire town of Li'l Woodzeez soon! We love to play with them, read about them, and imagine what it would be like to really live in Honeysuckle Hollow with our animal friends.

You can view all of the products offered in the Li'l Woodzeez line on their website. Check them out - these should be considered a must-have on your next birthday, special occasion, or holiday shopping list!

Battat is a family-run business based in Montreal, Canada, and Plattsburgh, NY, that has been making family-focused products for over 100 years. Through innovative thinking, unique design and a steadfast commitment to safety and reliability, Battat has created some of the world's favorite toys.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

FREE Learning Apps for Kids and Printable Worksheets - Kids Academy on Google Play & iTunes

This blog has partnered with Mom Buzz Media to announce this exciting information!

Kids Academy Image 2

Kids Academy Releases Preschool Education Center 
for iOS and Android!

We are always excited to see updates from Kids Academy, a great maker of fun educational apps with lots of kid-appeal. The only thing we've ever been disappointed with in these apps is that there weren't more activities to keep us busy with them for longer. Our kindergarten is always a fan of the fun graphics, music, activities, and learning that happens with Kids Academy.

The Preschool Education Center is an all-in-one educational app created for children and toddlers by the team at Kids Academy! With already over 10 million downloads worldwide, they have just released a long-awaited update to this amazing app! The app is designed to cover all aspects of early childhood education. Children learn about the alphabet, reading, writing, building vocabulary and even developing math skills. Based on the proven Montessori method, the Preschool Education Center app offers a number of fun games that help master essential learning skills through play, making learning fun!

We gave this new and improved app a try today and my daughter was very pleased to see some new activities to enjoy! These are four categories of free educational activities - Reading, Writing, Math, and Library, with 8 separate games. You'll have access to more with a paid account. As always with Kids Academy, we love the characters, voices, graphics, music, and overall fun. My daughter's favorite part was listening to and reading along with the story of Cinderella.

Until now, Preschool Education Center has only been available on iTunes but now it is finally available for Android devices on Google Play! This fun and free app is currently being featured in the Family section of the Android store in the USA, Australia and Canada.


For iOS Devices:

iTunes Kids Academy

Kids Academy has also updated the iOS version of the app: Preschool & Kindergarten Early Learning Games adding new games, books, and educational cartoons and shows as well as printable worksheets.

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BONUS! Free Preschool & Kindergarten Worksheets for Kids!

Kids Academy Free Worksheets

Kids Academy is also finding a way to expand beyond the screen and help master pen and pencil with free printable worksheets. You can get free preschool worksheets on a variety of subjects from alphabet to math and the library is updated often! Download, print out and get start practicing with good old fashioned pencil and paper in seconds!


Head over to Kids Academy 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Celebrate Halloween with Oriental Trading

We received free product to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received.
All opinions expressed are our own.

Fall is one of my favorite times of year and I think one reason is that decorating for the season is just so fun! I typically start my decorating in November but this year I started in early October with the help of Oriental Trading and their fantastic assortment of Halloween decorations!

Oriental Trading has everything you need to kick off your Halloween season. Whether you're looking for crafts, indoor or outdoor decorations, candy, favors, costumes, or accessories, Oriental Trading is your one-stop-shop!

Because my daughter is young, I wanted to stick with Halloween decorations that were cute but not scary or gory and The Pumpkin Express Train was a perfect fit! With adorable characters and details and a sweet fall and Halloween theme, we fell in love with this little train as soon as we took it out of the box. Teddy bears, ghosts, and kitties and pumpkins - you really can't help but smile when you see this, right?

I'm also a fan of classic decorations and love decor that will last me beyond one holiday and work for the whole season. These Orange Metal Lanterns are beautiful. They come as a set of two, with candles sold separately. I ordered two Square Flameless Candles to use inside them. With two AA batteries (not included), these real wax LED candles flicker like the real thing! They make a lovely addition to our fireplace area, but my plan is to move them outside to the front steps on Halloween to help light the way for our trick-or-treaters! These will decorate our living room throughout the fall season.

Regardless of the season and decor, we always save room around here for homemade decorations! Oriental Trading has an enormous assortment of crafts and DIY projects for both adults and kids. My daughter was thrilled with this sweet Halloween Owl Ornament Craft Kit. In fact, I was just as pleased! These little owls come in a set of a dozen individually packaged kits with adhesive foam pieces and instructions to create your own adorable owl friend. We made several of these to add to our decorations and also used them as a group craft at a pajama party with several other kindergarten girls. They were a huge hit with everyone!

Needless to say, Halloween is not Halloween without a good assortment of candy. While you're online shopping for your decor and crafts at Oriental Trading, you might as well pick up some trick-or-treat candy too! Whether you're looking for name brand or novelty candy, you'll find it. This Wrigley's Grab Bag Candy Assortment had a little (or shall I say a lot) of everyone in our family's favorites.

This was our first year shopping with Oriental Trading for Halloween, but it certainly won't be our last. With a huge assortment of Halloween related items - over 400 new items live on the website right now - you're sure to find whatever you're looking for during this fun and festive season! And shopping from the comfort of your own home? Well, in my opinion, that can't be beat!

Oriental Trading is giving away $250 in Halloween products of your choice weekly! Visit today and enter to win! Plus, they're giving away a $25 gift card every day! Contest ends October 17, 2015, so get your entries in today! Good luck!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Introducing the TB Blood Test!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the TB Blood Test. 
I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I'll be honest. I'm into "health" but I'm perhaps even more into ease and convenience. Anything that combines the two is something that I'm interested in learning more about!

Let's talk TB tests. You know what I'm talking about, right? The test that tells you if you've been exposed to tuberculosis. The one that's required of all employees working in the healthcare field, for instance. The one where you go to the doctor's office and they insert a needle into your arm filled with who-knows-what, make a little bubble of who-knows-what under your skin, leave it there for a few days, and then make you come back in to the office to see if you turned all red or something like that. Supposedly if you have a reaction to the test you've tested "positive." I don't know for definite what happens if you test positive but I do know that sometimes people have false positives, etc. I also know that even though I've only ever tested negative, I've always found these tests to be inconvenient and time sucking. I live 40 minutes from my doctor's office. That means I have to drive a total of 160 minutes over several days for this little bubble. Not into it.

But, regardless, TB tests are important.

Introducing the new TB Blood Test!

The TB Blood Test is a huge scientific advance over that ridiculous skin test (which I just learned is archaic - it's 110 years old!). It helps diagnose tuberculosis (TB) infection with even greater accuracy and a more reliable result. It's the only available method of testing for TB with completely objective results. The skin test is open to the interpretation of the person administering and checking it. The blood test is not.

And, you can guess my favorite part of the TB Blood Test! One visit. No need to head back to the doctors a few days later for checking. One and done.

With the TB Blood Test you get:
  • The most accurate test for TB infection - no cross reaction with a previous TB vaccination (the most common reason for false positives)
  • Only a 3ml blood draw - regardless of age or anything else
  • Total convenience of just one visit to the doctor's office.

Win, win, win, win, win!

So check out the TB Blood Test website, read more about it, and the next time you or your family member is due for a TB test, ask your primary care provider if it's right for you. I know I will!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Canobie Lake Park - A Perfect New England Day Trip!

We received complimentary admission to Canobie Lake Park to facilitate this review.
All opinions expressed are our own.

A day trip to Canobie Lake Park is an absolute must if you live in New England! Just a short trip north, this family-friendly Salem, New Hampshire amusement park is one you don't want to miss. It's been my absolute favorite since I was a kid... and now that I'm a mom, I love sharing it with my whole family!

My five-year-old loves amusement parks and is at a really fun age (and height) that allows her to enjoy both the kiddie rides and many, if not most, of the bigger rides at Canobie Lake Park. Whether you're a scenic train ride type person...

 or a roller coaster enthusiast...

 you'll find plenty to do on a trip to Canobie Lake Park!

Our favorite ride this year was the bumper cars. Perhaps the best part is that there is a version for grown-ups and bigger big-kids and then a version for kids my daughter's age. There was a wonderful staff member who explained to the kids exactly how to get their bumper cars unstuck - before they even started! Maybe I would have enjoyed bumper cars more as a kid if I had known this!

The trick to getting unstuck in a bumper car is to turn your steering wheel all the way to one side and press down on the gas until you move! It works like a charm every time!

Our daughter also got brave enough for the ferris wheel this year! You'll see from the picture that I was taking this picture for the ground... I haven't quite outgrown my fear of heights yet and this ferris wheel is huge!

Besides great rides, there are many other great things about Canobie Lake Park.

The park (including bathrooms) are so clean considering the number of people that are running around there any given day. We went on a busy Saturday and were very impressed with the cleanliness throughout.

Parking is free, free, free, and there is tons of it!

There are plenty of options for food and drink inside the park. You cannot bring food in from the outside, but you'll find pretty much whatever you might be in the mood for on the inside. There are sit-down options as well as snack stands and you can find everything from burgers, to pizza, to fried clams, to ice cream. In fact, within the free Canobie Lake Park Map mobile app, you can open the Menu feature and see a listing of foods and how close you are to them. This made my Root-Beer-Float-craving-pregnant-tummy very, very happy!

The app also provides a map of the park, a ride sorting feature, and even a tool for marking your vehicle's location in the parking lot and helping you find it when you're done with your day!

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many ways to have fun at Canobie Lake Park - whether you're little or big or somewhere in between. You can read more details in our last review or on the Canobie Lake Park website.

If you haven't made it up to Canobie Lake Park yet this year, don't despair! They are still open every weekend through October! Although you'll need to skip the water park portion, I guarantee you'll still have tons of fun! Canobie offers some really fun fall programming that you won't want to miss, like a petting zoo, pony rides, and a pumpkin house - we may need to head back up for those extras! Check out the Canobie Lake Park website for more info on hours, pricing, and programs!

 We can't wait to make our way back up to Canobie Lake Park again soon!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Palace Playland at Old Orchard Beach

We received complimentary admission to Palace Playland to facilitate this review. 
All opinions expressed are my own.

We took a day trip up to Old Orchard Beach, Maine last weekend to visit Palace Playland - New England's only beachfront amusement park!

Palace Playland is a fairly small, but very fun, amusement park - and it truly is right at the beach! We have a five year old who loves amusement parks but obviously isn't big enough for every ride at every park. Palace Playland was perfect for her. There were very few rides that she was not tall enough to ride but the majority she could ride either alone or with an adult - even the roller coaster! If you're looking for a fun day trip with young kids, consider Palace Playland!

We went to the park on a sunny, hot, summer weekend day and were very surprised to find that it was not at all crowded - a huge plus when visiting an amusement park with a young child! No crowd, no lines, no wait, instant fun!

The park opens on weekdays at noon and weekends at 11:00 AM - and there is no official closing time! I'm actually guessing that on a hot summer day, it crowds up at night when beachgoers have had enough sun, but we arrived at about 11:30 AM and the park was practically empty... although the adjacent Old Orchard Beach and surrounding streets were full to the brim! 

There is no parking at Palace Playland but there is plenty of pay parking locally in public lots or on the street. Just head toward the beach and pick the closest lot or spot you find and you'll be good to go - just walk toward the ferris wheel!

You can walk right into the park without a ticket but you'll need to pay if you plan to ride. You'll see below that you can purchase tickets in the form of day passes or per ride. If you have a child that's taller than 42", you'll want to skip the Kiddie Pass because they are able to ride most rides - not just the kiddie rides - as long as they have a paid adult with them.

There are rides that spin...

Rides that drive...

Rides that fly...

 Rides that bounce...

And a whole bunch more in between!

There are also some big-kid rides, but only a few that are for big-kids only, like this one.

Even my littler kid could ride on the roller coaster - with a grown-up! I think she rode it six times!

And what's an amusement park without a log ride?! This is the perfect ride to end a hot day at Old Orchard Beach... just don't expect to be dry at the end!

I was quite impressed with Palace Playland. It was incredibly clean - both in the ride areas and in the bathrooms. The staff members were very polite and kind. It was small enough to not be overwhelming and large enough to keep my five year old entertained for several hours. 

There is food at the park, such as snack stands, but you're also right in the middle of a beach town with tons of little shops, restaurants, and food stands within walking distance. As I mentioned earlier, admission into the park is free - you just pay to ride - so you can leave and grab a bite to eat and then come back at your leisure.

Oh! There's also an arcade at Palace Playland. I almost forgot to mention it because we didn't use it, but it's there if that's your thing!

All in all, it was a great day for us at Palace Playland. We weren't familiar with the park before this trip but will definitely return again soon. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

York's Wild Kingdom - Great New England Summer Day Trip!

We received complimentary admission to York's Wild Kingdom to facilitate this review. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

We were so excited to head back to York, Maine for a day trip to York's Wild Kingdom again this summer! Just about an hour and a half from Boston, it's an easy ride up to York Beach for a super fun adventure. York's Wild Kingdom - New England's Only Zoo and Amusement Park has something for everyone and we always leave with new memories that are sure to last a lifetime... and we (those who are not driving...) always sleep the whole way home which is a great sign of a great day!

There are several different ticket options at York's Wild Kingdom. You can choose to visit the zoo only, the amusement park only, or purchase tokens to just ride as you wish in the amusement park. Entrance to the park itself is free but you need to pay if you want to ride or visit the animals. We definitely recommend the Zoo and Ride Pass which gives you admission to the zoo (including the paddle boats) and unlimited rides all day. There are Go-Kart and Animal Rides too but those require separate ticket purchase.

We think the combination Zoo and Ride Pass makes for the perfect day. We start our day in the zoo which opens at 10:00 AM and then transition to lunch around noon and into the amusement park after that as it doesn't open until 12:00 PM. There are lunch opens within the park - food stands and snack bars - as well as picnic tables and a covered shelter where you can eat. You're also welcome to bring your own food into the park so packing your own picnic lunch is also acceptable and a great option if you're looking to save some money, although the prices at the snack bars are not unreasonable.

You'll see that as soon as you drive into York's Wild Kingdom, the fun begins - even before you leave the car! The driveway is lined with trivia about wild animals.

There is free parking at York's Wild Kingdom, and the lot begins to fill up fairly quickly at 10:00 AM when the zoo portion of the park opens. Both times we've arrived at 10:00 AM the ticket line is already fairly long, so my suggestion is to get there as close to opening as possible! If you don't make it before the main parking lot fills up, there is parking a little farther away (still walking distance) with a free tram shuttle ride to bring you to back to the gate.

One of the first things we enjoyed in the zoo area this year was the paddle boats. The paddle boats are free with your purchase of a zoo ticket. There are lifejackets provided and you can paddle along through a little pond area with bridges and tons and tons of ducks! We even brought some duck food with us in an empty popcorn box and, needless to say, the ducks were just as excited to us as we were to see them! This was such a fun and relaxing way to start our day!

Be sure you bring lots of quarters with you to York's Wild Kingdom because you'll find these little food dispensers all over the zoo! This is one of my daughter's favorite parts of our visits.

We fed ducks...


and deer!

You can see by the pictures that one of the most fun aspects of York's Wild Kingdom is that there are lots of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals, rather than only looking at them behind fences. 

And don't worry... there are lots of hand washing stations throughout the park!

My daughter is a ride-a-holic, so despite our fun in the zoo, she was anxiously awaiting the opening of the amusement park at noon! We found an empty picnic table and enjoyed a quick lunch with a combination of food brought from home and food purchased from the snack stand. You can see a copy of the menu here.

We then continued our adventure in the amusement park! My daughter is five years old - really a perfect age for the amusement park portion of York's Wild Kingdom. There are a lot of rides geared toward younger children and there are only a couple of rides that she is not big enough to go on without an adult. Older teens might be easily bored so purchasing individual token tickets may make more sense for them, but for younger kids who ride just about anything, this park will not disappoint. Even when the park is crowded the ride lines are reasonable and fun abounds.

There are kiddie rides, a bounce house, fun houses, the classic ferris wheel and carousel, one small roller coaster, and a few extras mixed in. We were able to enjoy all of our favorites, multiple times.

You can check out more ride pictures in last year's post! I regret not taking more pictures on this trip, but I suppose a lack of pictures indicates lots of fun, right?!

There is still time to make your way up to York's Wild Kingdom this summer, and if you're looking for something fun to do with your family, we highly recommend it. York's Wild Kingdom is one of our favorite places to visit and we can't wait to go again soon!
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