Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking forward to a year of change

IMG_7040Today is the last day of the year. By the time you read this more than likely we will already have jumped into the new year of 2014.

As I reflect of our year and think of what the future holds, I can’t help to be somewhat emotional as we have made the decision of leaving the campground where we parked our RV for the past 10+ years or so and move on to new adventures.

We started out with a tent and quickly purchased a used pop-out trailer that my oldest son experience as a toddler. A few years later we got a travel trailer which our family of six still enjoys to this day. We love to discover new places and travel with it. But deep down, I think I will always have a soft spot from the place where we made friends through the years. The closest ones have also moved to NB this year. The years go by and changes happen.

As 2013 is slowly moving on and the New Year is just around the corner, I reflected on our time at Logo Land and how it was part of our family life for so many years.

  • My kids learned to RV and take care of it.
  • My kids learned to fish on the lake – caught many fish, got up close with turtlesIMG_8886, saw loons every year (with their babies), caught frogs and even dissected one, discovered what fish eat by dissecting their stomach, explore the woods, learn to identify birds and plants. Lots of homeschooling done in nature as you can see.
  • We have experienced three seasons each year with our RV there.
  • We celebrated Father’s Day and Canada Day in the area a few times.
  • We explored the area and discovered fun things to do with the kids.
  • We went blueberry and raspberry picking.
  • We visited a dairy farm with the owner of our campground.
  • We tried out geocaching in the area.

Bottom line, we had numerous memories made while we camp there during these years.

 2003_08_11_011 2005_05_21_09_40_50 2005_07_02_16_09_54 2005_07_19_07_25_34 2006_06_04_13_10_30 2007_05_28_15_46_02 2006_07_01_16_14_382007_06_16_16_40_082009_08_16_08_01_26 2010_07_29_11_32_162010_07_01_17_54_462008_07_11_16_13_56IMG_8349IMG_8369IMG_8382

As I write this post, I am a bit emotional of not going back there in 2014. Our RV is currently sleeping its last winter on the campground and in May we will leave the place knowing we had lot of pleasure and experience great things with our kids.

I think that Cobden and Logos Land will always have a special spot in our hearts simply because of the so many memories we have made there. But even though part of me is sad of leaving a more than familiar place I also look forward of what we will experience in the future and where our RV adventures will bring us. The plan for 2014 is to explore new campsites where we could place our RV – a place somewhere in between our home and Toronto so we can decide on a spur of a moment to go to the zoo, Canada’s Wonderland or go pick up peaches and nectarines near Niagara Falls. We will also do trips with the RV though these depend on the work my husband will have. Our dream will be to go to Florida either in 2014 or 2015. Our alternate trips might be Burlington, VT or around Cincinnati (near the border of KT).

Whatever our destination will be in 2014 I am sure that we will enjoy ourselves, discover new places, experience new adventures and have a great time with our kids. 2014 is a year of change for our family. Change is hard sometimes but it can also mean growth and new memories to make.

Happy New Year everyone!

Are you planning to do a change in your RV life in 2014? If so what is it? Please share with us what you are planning to do different.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lego Build-It Book Volume 1–Amazing Vehicles

Buildit1_cover_webLego Build-It Book Volume 1 – Amazing Vehicles
Published at no starch press

About the book

With just one collection of LEGO® bricks, you can build any of these 10 models—from the simple Go-Kart to the intricate Rescue Truck.

Handy tips and advanced building techniques will inspire you to create your own amazing models for even more fun!

My Thoughts

Once again this book is opening the reader to a whole new world – creating amazing vehicles with Lego.   As per other titles from no starch press, I am very impressed with the quality of the projects included in this book.  

If you have a child who enjoy building trucks and other kind of vehicles with Lego, this book is definitively the book for him (or her) to have.    Here’s the models you will find in this book.

  • Off-Roader buildit_008-009_thumb3
  • Go-Kart
  • Muscle Car
  • Stroller
  • Multi-Purpose Truck
  • Historic Racer
  • Classic Car
  • Wheel Loader
  • Street Rod
  • Rescue Truck

Here’s what the pages look like in this book.

buildit_022-023_thumbbuildit_034-035_thumb

buildit_038-039_thumbbuildit_116-117_thumb

The instructions are very clear and easy to follow as you can see.  You will have a detailed list of the bricks needed to build the model you wish to do and step-by-step instructions to follow.

I find the books on Lego from no starch press to be well done and very creative.  This particular book – even though it concentrates on vehicles – will bring some fun building time to your child.

Lego Build-It Volume 1 is available at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca and amazon.com.

  

Kindle

  

Disclaimer: Thanks to no starch press for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Lego Space Building the Future

LEGOspace_cover_webLego Space Building the Future
By Peter Reid and Tim Goddard
Published at no starch press

About the book

Come explore an incredible LEGO® universe in LEGO Space: Building the Future. Spaceships, orbital outposts, and new worlds come to life in this unique vision of the future, built completely from LEGO bricks.

A selection of step-by-step building instructions will have you constructing your own cosmic creations to play with at home. Marvel at interstellar battlecruisers, space pirates, charming robots, and other stunning builds from an amazing future!

About the Authors

Peter Reid has been a fan of LEGO since childhood. He is a contributor to The LEGO Play Book, his work appeared in The LEGO Book, and he has attended design workshops with the LEGO Group in Billund. His incredible LEGO Exo Suit, featured in this book, has been chosen by LEGO for mass production in 2014, as LEGO CUUSOO #006, Exo Suit. He lives near London with his fiancee, Yvonne.

Tim Goddard is a contributor to the New York Times-bestselling The LEGO Ideas Book and The LEGO Play Book. He has also participated in product development with the LEGO Group. He works as a laboratory manager and lives with his wife, Sharon, in the UK.

My Thoughts

Any book containing Lego ideas are well received in this house.  So when I saw a new title based essentially on space, I knew that the kids would enjoy it.  Besides, it’s a great way to encourage them to build space things when we will study the Solar System and space.

This marvelous book contains numerous models of starships, robots, aliens, space pirate and much more.   To top it off, the authors also took the opportunity to bring your through a voyage of space exploration from the Sputnik to the space civilization that is often dreamed off by many throughout the world.    I am not sure if we will ever see a Moon colony or a Mars colony in our life but when you look at the creativity of these authors and creators, you can almost see it become a reality.

LEGOspace_8-9._webLEGOspace_58-59_web

LEGOspace_78-79_webLEGOspace_192-193_web

The book contains step-by-step instructions at time as well as cool information about space exploration.  I find it is a great way to encourage reading for kids who are somewhat reluctant but enjoy anything that contains Lego.  Here’s the table of contents for you to discover.

Chapter 1: The Space Age
Chapter 2: The Federation
Chapter 3: Ships of the Federation
Chapter 4: Inhospitable Climate Engineers
Chapter 5: New Frontiers
Chapter 6: Realm of Shadows
Chapter 7: Army of Darkness
Chapter 8: Star Justice
Chapter 9: Infiltration
Chapter 10: Across the Universe

The book will definitively encourage imagination and might pick the interest of a boy or girl who likes anything about space.  Who knows… maybe one will eventually move to another colony somewhere in space!

Lego Space Building the Future is very creative and fun to read.  I believe in giving books as a gift and this would be one of my choices.

Lego Space Building the Future is available at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca and amazon.com.

  

Kindle

  

Disclaimer: Thanks to no starch press for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Stomple

imageStomple
By Spin Master

About the game

Stomp or forever be outstomped with this strategic marvel stomping game – Stomple!   Outwit your opponents by stomping their marbles before they stomp yours.  Use strategy to outmaneuver other players leaving their stomper trapped with nowhere to go.  Outstomp the competition and you win.

My Thoughtsfull1

A game that is easy to learn and quick to play.   Once you start stomping it will be hard to stop…  The goal is to trap your opponents by stomping their marbles before they can reach your own.

You randomly roll the marbles on the game board before starting the game, you obtain a stomper which will allow you to stomp through the board in order to remove the marbles of your opponents and you trap your opponents so they can’t stomp.  That’s all you will need to play a good game of Stomple.

A fun warning is also included on the box – This game can be addictive.  Play at your own risk!  You have to smile when you see this.  Personally I prefer my kids to be addicted in board games that allow them to interact and have fun together than being addicted to other things like video games.  

The game can be played for up to 6 players which is perfect for our family!   Nobody gets left out if we take this game out and play it. 

So if you are looking for a different kind of board game to put under the Christmas tree this year, why not check out Stomple?  You might create numerous new memories of playing together with the family in 2014…

Stomple is available at your favourite toy store, even on amazon.ca and amazon.com.

  

Disclaimer: Thanks to SpinMaster for sending the product mentioned above for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Pinata

imagePinata
By Rio Grande Games

About the product

This is a reprint of a popular game – Balloon Cup – but with the original theme from the designer, Stephen Glenn.

In Pinata, the players compete to collect the colored candy that is inside the pinata.  When a player has collected enough candy of a given color, he earns the medal card for that color.   The first player to earn 3 medal cards is the winner.   The players play their cards next to several mats on the table.  Players usually play their cards on their side of the mats, but they may sometimes play on their opponent’s side, a move that can ruin their opponent’s plans.  

Includes 54 playing cards, 5 medal cards, 45 colored candies, 4 mat, 1 bag.

My Thoughts

Two players willing  to spend 45 minutes or so having a good time while playing a game.  That’s all it takes for this game called Pinata.   All you have to do for setting up this game it to place the four mats in a row between the two players.   It doesn’t matter which sides are face up at the beginning of a game.   Then you need to place the candies in the bag and mix them.     Randomly draw candies and place them on the mats in this sequence:  mat 1 will get 1 candy, mat 2 will have 2 candies and so on until you get 4 candies on mat 4.   So far so good…

Once the candies are placed on the mats, you have to shuffle the cards and deal eight cards to each player.   You have to keep you card secrets from your opponent.   Place the remaining cards face down as a supply next to the board.   A discard stack will form next to it as you play.  

When it is your turn to play, you have to select a card from your hand and place it face up next to the mat of your choice.   If you cannot play a card, you have to show the cards to your opponent who has the possibility to discard as many cards as he/she wishes.  The number of candies on a mat determines the number of cards that must be played.   Also the colors of candies determine the colors of the cards that must be played.  

When the required number of cards has been played on both side of the mat, it is scored.   Basically, you win the candies found on a mat.  When you collect candies, you have to check to see if you may collect a medal card.    The game ends when a player was able to collect the three medal cards.  

As per previous games I have received from Rio Grande Games, I am impressed with the quality poured in the game.   The little bag is adorable – yet very simple -  and filled with the candies (well they are wooden pieces that looks like candies).   The mats are thick cardboards and quite big for an easy play between two players.  

Pinata is a great game to entertain kids in the afternoon after a morning of studying lessons at home.   It could also entertain kids while camping with the family or going to camp during the summer.  It would be a perfect game to bring to family get-together if you want to play with uncles, aunts, cousins or even grand-parents.   The packaging of this game is small and can fit in a bag while going to visit or traveling.

Pinata is available at your specialized game store or at amazon.ca and amazon.com.

  

Disclaimer: Thanks to Rio Grande Games for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CINQUE TERRE

Preview-1_445CINQUE TERRE – the five villages
By Rio Grande Games

About the game

The Cinque Terre is a rugged, coastal section on the Italian Riviera and is composed of five villages. The villages are known for their beauty, culture, food, and proximity to one another. Produce carts are commonly found in each village marketplace. In this game of strategy, players compete to sell the most valuable produce in the five villages. Players act as farmers and operate carts in which they will harvest produce and deliver them to the five villages to sell. Additionally, players will compete for Produce Order cards, which reward Lire for selling desirable produce in specific villages. Players track sold produce in each village using their Fulfillment Cards. The winner is the player who gains the most Lire by selling valuable produce, gaining popularity in the villages and fulfilling Produce Orders.

Components: 1 game board, 16 dice (2 in 8 colors), 5 produce carts, 16 starting orders, 80 produce orders, 5 most popular vendor cards, 80 produce cards, 5 scoring markers, and 128 produce pieces (16 in 8 colors)

My Thoughts

The game is economic based which means that the players will learn to compete to sell the most valuable product in the villages.   The Cinque Terre is a rugged, coastal section on the Italian Riviera and is composed of five villages.    In each of these villages, you will fin a marketplace where you can place a cart to sell your produce.  

The  players acts as farmers and operate the carts where they sell their produce after harvesting it.   Also, you will compete in order to get Produce Order cards which reward the most desirable product in specific villages.    The winner of the game is the player who gains the most Lire by selling valuable produce, gaining popularity in the villages and fulfilling the orders.  

The game can be setup quite rapidly and you can immediately jump into the play time.   Basically, you will have to perform three actions each time it is your turn.  With four actions possible, you will have to be wise in your decisions if you want to win.  The 4 actions possible are:

  • Move up to 4 spaces
  • Draw 1 produce card – There are eight product cards – olives, funghi, agli, uva, zucchine, limoni, arance, and pomodori.    Associated to each produce cards a special die of the same color can be used.
  • Harvest produce
  • Sell produce at a village market – you can sell any type of produce at any of the villages.   Be aware that some produce are more profitable in certain villages.  

It is possible to perform the same action more than one per turn.    There are a lot of steps for this game in order for you to be able to win it.   You seriously have to plan and think before playing your turn and discover what produce will sell better in which village.   Through the game you will learn to place orders, meet the demands by fulfilling the expectations, and work hard in order to stand up above your opponents.

What I appreciate from the games I have reviewed so far with Rio Grande Games is the quality of them.   I mean the board, the pieces included in it as well as all the parts important to the game are well done whether it is thick cardboard or wooden pieces.    It’s worth it to pay more for a game that you know will last for a long time I find.  There are definitively a lot of detailed thought in this game and the quality of the product offered to the player is above and beyond what you would expect.

The game is perfect for ages 13 and up, can accommodate 2 to 5 players and will last about 60 minutes.

If you are in the market of trying something different when it comes to gaming, I would strongly suggest that you check out Cinque Terre and other games from Rio Grande Games.

Cinque Terre is available at your favourite specialized games store, or on amazon.ca and amazon.com.

  

Disclaimer: Thanks to Rio Grande Games for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pick and Draw

imagePick and Draw

http://pickanddraw.com/

About the product

Pick and Draw was developed to be used in my presentations to children of all ages at public libraries and schools. I knew that most kids that I drew with at these one hour sessions I would never see again, and wanted to help them unlock new pathways of visual thinking…empower them, and do it in an unsuspecting fun way.

That is when Pick and Draw was born.

My Thoughts

I stumbled on this cute little card game that will encourage your child and yourself to draw on facebook.   Somehow I saw a post about it.  I was curious, explored their website and decided to request it.   Pick and Draw is a fun little product that will stimulate you in drawing .   I particularly like the fact that you can develop the gift of drawing that God has given us and that you can use the cards to share the Gospel (as shown on their website).

Essentially, the product is in fact a card game where you need to pick a card from each set – face, nose, eyes, mouth, and hair.   You can’t look at the faces of the cards.  Keep each color card face down in front of you.   Now you will need paper and a pencil.   Once you have the tools you need to proceed, flip the red card and draw whatever shape shown on the card.  Slowly at every step of the way (as soon as you finish one card you need to flip another one – red, green, purple, blue, and orange) you will discover the character that you are drawing.   There is no card for ears and you can do them as soon as you have completed the face, nose, eyes, and mouth.   As you advance the drawing you are allowed to erase any of the face shape that need to be removed as you draw.    The last card you are allowed to draw is the hair one – orange – and you have to add the hair you see on  the card. 

I think the product is great to encourage anyone to develop their ability to draw.  I have a child who shows an interest in drawing and this product will be perfect for him.  But the product is so much fun that I think we will all use it when we need to take a break from our homeschool.

See this little video to discover what Pick and Draw is all about!

Pick and Draw is available at their website for the price of 10$ + shipping for an individual pack.  

Disclaimer: Thanks to Pick and Draw for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Explorers

ExplorersExplorers – Tales of Endurance and Exploration
By DK Canada

About the book

From the first people to leave Africa to the first to leave the planet, the urge to explore the unknown has driven human progress. DK's Explorers tells the story of humanity's explorations, taking the reader into the lives of some of the most intrepid people ever known. Focusing on 50 of the world's greatest explorers, with shorter entries on 60 of their helpers and companions, the book is filled with first-person accounts in the explorers' own words, rare maps, specially commissioned photographs, and artworks re-create history's greatest expeditions. From trade and the search for lands to colonize, to scientific curiosity and missionary zeal, Explorers introduces history's most famous trail blazers-people whose courage opened frontiers, turned voids into maps, forged nations, connected cultures, and added to humankind's knowledge of the world by leaps and bounds.

My Thoughts

This book is perfect for the person in your life who enjoys reading about history.  From the beginning of times to the explorations of the 21st century, this book will keep you occupied for quite some time in the new year.   Through the pages of this book, you will discover how explorations were made in the past and how new places were found by these adventurous men and women through the years. 

A quick look at the table of contents can give you an idea of what you will learn while reading this book.

  • The Early Explorers:Expanding the ancient world, trade and diplomacy, in search of new land, exploring the Buddhist world.
  • Trade and Discovery: Tales of Asia, exploring the Muslim world, a route around Africa, a new world to some
  • Conquest and Colonization: cruel conquistadors, northern alliances, sailing around the world, into the Pacific
  • Filling in the gaps”": mapping the land, into Africa, spreading the faith, understanding others
  • Reaching for extremes: exploring for science, to the ends of the Earth, exploring the deep, into the Solar System

Explorers features the personal stories of the most famous trailblazers – people whose courage opened frontiers, turned voids into maps, forged nations, connected cultures, and added to humanity’s knowledge of the world by leaps and bonds.  By seeing names like Jacques Cartier, Ponce de Leon, Marquette and Jolliet, Samuel de Champlain, James Cook, Lewis and Clark, David Livingstone, and many more I know that not only will I read of the historical people from my  history classes but I know without a doubt that I will discover something new about them as well.

The book is packed with historical information, images, photos as well as maps and instruments used by these explorers.    I really enjoy having a book like this one when I explore history with my kids as I find that it helps me to make history more real to them.   Not only are they learning but I am too!   While looking into the pages of this book, I learned that Cook originally named the Hawaiian Islands as the Sandwich Islands after his sponsor – the Earl of Sandwich, that Jolliet’s logbook and maps were lost when his canoe overturned and his duplicate was burned in a fire, and that Jacques Cousteau (I used to watch his television show) originally wanted to become and aviator.

Explorers is a perfect gift for the person in your life who loves history and enjoy reading about the explorers in history. 

Explorers is just one example of some of the gift ideas that DK Canada has for you.  Check out their Gift Boutique for more ideas. They have numerous ideas for kids and adults.   Click on the image below to access the Gift Boutique.

image

Explorers is available at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca and amazon.com.

  

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ultimate Sticker Books

Ultimate Sticker Books
From DK Canada

Stickers….   I know that I was passionate of stickers when I was growing up.  Whether they were puffy stickers or fancy ones, I like collecting them.   Funny though that I don’t have any of them anymore.  I even had some scratch and sniff ones including the famous skunk smell. 

When I had kids, I never suspected that stickers would be part of their life.  Still one day, stickers entered our home and the kids like them.   Well the younger ones more than the older soon-to-be teenager anyway.   Stickers are fun when they do an amazing work in their school but stickers books can keep them busy for quite some time.  

DK Canada has numerous Ultimate Sticker Books for you to choose from depending of the interest of your child.  Some of their sticker books are smaller while most of them contains numerous pages.  The sticker books of DK are different in a sense as it would encourage your child to read the information contained in the book as well as develop their search ability in order to find the sticker that goes in the assigned place.    For the purpose of this blog post, I received the following titles:

9781465402691HPlanes

We haven’t seen the movie yet – though we purchased it for Christmas.   Knowing that my kids enjoyed the Cars movies, I expect that they will enjoy the Planes one as well.   In this Ultimate Sticker Book: Disney Planes, young readers can relive the excitement of the film, learning new facts about their favorite characters while placing the themed stickers on colorful backgrounds.   There are more than sixty full-color, reusable stickers, this book will appeal to all fans of this fun new movie from Disney.  Will Dusty, a winsome crop duster plane, win the around-the-world air race? Or will race champion Ripslinger thwart his progress? 

Monsters University9781465408785H

Monsters Inc. was a hit in our home.  And back in November we purchased the prequel as part of a surprise for our third son’s birthday party.   We all enjoyed the story and discovered more about the life of Mike and Sulley before they work at the Monsters factory.    In this particular sticker book the characters of Monsters University will come to life as your child uses more than sixty full-color, vibrant stickers, young monster lovers can recreate their favorite scenes from the movie or make some of their very own!

9781465401786HLego Friends

My girl is absolutely fascinated with the Lego Friends.   And I know that she will enjoy the Ultimate Sticker Collection: LEGO® Friends which contains more than one thousand full-color reusable stickers of all the LEGO® Friends mini-doll characters and their accessories, pets, and favorite places!  The book is packed full of information about the girls of Heartlake City; readers can find out about each characters' likes and dislikes, pets, special talents, and the city they live in. Lively captions provide bite-size LEGO Friends facts, while caption headings match up with the labels on the sticker pages, providing extra help for children to complete their sticker books.  It’s the perfect Christmas surprise for the girl who enjoys Lego Friends.

Angry Birds Star Wars II 9781465415363H

What can I say about Angry Birds?   Kids and adults alike love the games and anything that is related to it from t-shirts to toys and stuff characters.   This fun sticker book will allow you to return to Angry Birds Star Wars and discover furious characters, old and new, in this collection of over 1,000 reusable stickers! Meet Redkin Skywalker, Count Dodo, Darth Moar, Peckmé Amidala, and the many birds and pigs fighting for control of the galaxy.  It’s the perfect companion for the child who really enjoy playing the games on your iPhone.

The Ultimate Sticker Books from DK are the perfect item to select for an extra little gift under the tree this year.   Some of the titles can be found on their gift boutique.   

The Ultimate Stickers Books from DK can be found at your favourite bookstore.

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned title for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Boom Boom Balloon

imageBOOM BOOM BALLOON
By Spin Master

About the game

It’s Boom Boom Balloon, the crazy game where you take turns keeping the balloon from popping.  Roll the die and carefully push in a stick until it clicks.  Watch as the balloon changes shape – will the next click make it pop?  It’s the ultimate game of anticipation where you never know when the balloon will go BOOM!

My Thoughts

The idea of this game is simple really.  Blow a balloon, set it in the stand and taking turn you have to insert of stick and hope that the balloon won’t pop up.    In a way the game will challenge you to defy the law of science.  How can the balloon stay put with imagebursting? 

As much as I find this game original, I wonder what happens when there isn’t any more balloons to use in the box.  Can you use regular balloon?  And if not, where could you get a pack of extra balloons?

Being a mom, I know how kids react differently to sudden noise.   Some kids will laugh while others might start crying.   A balloon popping can be unnerving for a young child.    I am unsure how this game will be welcomed in family who will get it.  Part of me like the challenge and somewhat like to be on the edge when playing a game.  But the other side of me, it not enjoying the idea of having a balloon popping suddenly.  

Other families might enjoy this kind of game but I have mixed feelings about it.  I suspect that you could use regular balloons when you have used all the ones included in the box.  I find this game to be good for fearless kids and families.

BOOM BOOM BALLOON is available at your favourite toy store, even amazon.ca and amazon.com

  

Disclaimer: Thanks to SpinMaster for sending the product mentioned above for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Freewriting Freebie

Christmas is here and during the month of December many homeschooling families are trying to tie-in the Christmas celebrations in their homeschool.   For example, as we are going through the month of December our family is reading through an Advent story daily.    But it doesn’t have to stay to only advent activities!  You can include Christmas in probably any part of your homeschool.  Next week, I plan to go through a Christmas around the world study with the kids.   You can also incorporate Christmas in your writing lessons.  Writing is hard to teach but Home School Adventure Co. has put together a fun Christmas Freewriting Freebie for homeschoolers everywhere.  Swing to their website to get this free writing activity!   Click on the image below to access the freebie!

 
Writing can be hard work. Good writing most often results from much rewriting, and much rewriting can make a writer weary. 

Because  Philosophy Adventure™ students create and refine a biographical narrative speech over the course of several weeks, (supported by clear step-by-step guidance and seven writing checklists), we created several freewriting exercises to offset that hard work with play, and simply encourage students to have fun writing. 

We soon discovered that students—even those who considered themselves “non-writers”—produced surprising results using these exercises. Both students and parents were amazed. (Some parents even joined in the fun!) 

We are delighted to share with you this “Christmas Freewriting.”

To download your own copy of the Christmas Freewriting Freebie, visit Home School Adventure Co.

iPad mini with Retina Display - STAPLES and Technology update

Last October, I wrote a post about Staples and Technology and shared with you what I was planning to purchased with the gift card I received from them.  However, I had to wait – patiently – until the product I had picked would be available at Staples.

The wait was longer that I expected…   It was originally announced that the iPad mini with retina display would arrive in November but the month came and went by quite rapidly.

To make the anticipation a bit more challenging, I had mentioned to my husband early in November that we should sell my iPod and iPad 1 on a used site.   What we didn’t expect was to sell both quite rapidly within a few days of posting the ads.   To our pleasure we even got a bit more than we were anticipating.

So selling the devices went well…   now I had to wait.  Fortunately, I was able to borrow my husband iPad2 in order to continue to track our homeschool days.  I would say that this app is definitively essentials for me.   

As I mentioned the month of November went by and still no news on when the iPad mini with Retina Display would arrive at Staples.   The once-a-year sale at Apple was tempting but we resisted – thanks to my husband’s wisdom.

Finally on December 4th, I decided to check the website of Staples to see if there was any changes.  And guess what…  I could see them on the site!  The iPad mini with Retina Display were available.  I quickly selected the one I was planning to purchase – the black 128 GB but unfortunately it was Out Of Stock.   Seriously?   Oh well.   I checked to see if the silver one was available and it was.   Should I purchase this one instead.   As I debated about my options, I realized that while I looked at both colors I preferred the silver one over the black one.   My choice was made.  However, I quickly discovered that I couldn’t use the gift card on an online order.  What?  So I called the store near my house and was told that the only possible solution would be to come in store, order it through the website and get it delivered there and once it arrives to return it in order to repurchased it with the gift card.  Are you following me here?

Step 1: Go to the store.  Purchase the item using the same online site which means I can’t use the gift card immediately.

Step 2: Get the item delivered to the store.

Step 3: When the item arrives at the store, go back to said store in order to return it.  Then repurchase it using the gift card.

Honestly, I find this is a long process.  But since it was the only way to get my iPad mini with Retina Display, I went along with it making sure that the manager of the store confirmed on paper that it would be okay to return and repurchase right away.   No problem I was told.  Okay.  Let’s do it.  So on December 4th, I drove to the Staples, ordered my iPad and waited 24 hours to get it.  Apparently the warehouse is in Montreal and I was told that the delivery would be the next day.  IMG_9967

The next day I got the phone call right after lunch that the order was in.  I went back to the store and dealt with the return/repurchase.   It didn’t took long and the staff at the store was very nice.   Finally, I had my iPad mini with Retina Display.  The box was small enough for me to slide it in my purse as I went back to my vehicle.

IMG_9968As soon as I was home, I decided to open the box (hey what can I say I waited a long time for this moment) and proceed to install some apps on it.   I liked the small device and knew that it would just be perfect for reading before falling asleep.  The iPod was too small for reading – I disliked it while my husband really enjoy reading with his iPhone – and the bigger iPad was just too big and would be too heavy for my wrists.  (In case you wonder why – I have an issue with my left wrist which develop tendonitis every once in a while.  It happens sometimes with the right one but not as often.)

That afternoon, I installed some apps, my music, some videos, books and so on.   With 128 GB of storage trust me that you have plenty of space to install whatever you want.   The main reason why I wanted to move to the new iPad mini with Retina Display was that not only it would be smaller to handle and carry in my purse but I could double the storage on one device instead of having two devices of 64 GB each.  

You must be wondering what I think of the iPad mini with Retina Display since it has been over a week I have it….   Two words.  LOVE IT!    It’s the best decision I have ever made.   I have everything in one device and it’s just perfect for me.   I am still discovering advantages of having it as I am writing this. 

Last week-end, I hosted a little birthday party for my sweet daughter.   She will be turning 6 next week and because her birthday is so close to Christmas, we decided to have her birthday party earlier in the month of December.   She wanted a Princess birthday party and I decided to make a Princess cake for her.    I had purchased a Princess Barbie and baked a “dress for it”.  She really loved her cake and I decided to use the iPad mini to take a picture of my princess with her cake. 

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I will admit that I am quite impressed with the quality of the photos taken with the iPad mini with Retina Display.    The technology for these small cameras has gone a long way since it first appeared on the iPhone.   Before I would find the picture too grainy but now it is clear and stunning.    I look forward to explore new possibilities of photography with the iPad mini (and will admit that I need to practice to handle this way of taking pictures – it is quite different than my Canon!).

One of the build-in apps that I particularly find fun (and that myimage kids simply adore) is the Photo Booth.

With this app you can make a funny face or take a nutty picture of yourself, your kids or your friends and apply an effect to it.  You can have the thermal camera, the mirror, the x-ray, the kaleidoscope, the light tunnel, the squeeze, the twirl or the stretch effect.   You can also take a normal picture if your like.   But the effects brings the most laughter in my household – trust me.

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Most people dislike change. But from what I have seen so far with the new iPad mini with Retina Display and the new iOS, I must say that I like what I have experienced so far.  I enjoy have the new design for the calendar, the contacts, the camera, the new look of the icons and so on.   Having a device back in my hands is very nice as well.  I find that I read more using the iPad mini than I was when I had the iPad 1.   This week, as we drove to the swimming lessons, the kids were able to listen to some Adventures in Odyssey.   They missed having the possibility of picking the episode to listen after I had sold my iPod.

I made wise decisions when I opted to get an iPad mini with Retina Display and choose to sell my previous devices.   The wait was worth it and I am enjoying my new tablet.  Now if only the case I ordered can arrive….  *grin*    I won’t complain because I got a really good price on it so I will be patient while waiting for it.

In the meantime, if you are wondering what to get to your love one this Christmas season (and you have the budget for it!  Don’t get into debt for this…) I would like to suggest that you consider getting an iPad mini with Retina Display at Staples.   Not only can you install the Kindle app on it and read but it can be used for numerous things as well – taking notes at a meeting, facebooking, finding recipes on pinterest, read the news, play games and much more.   You won’t be disappointed with the iPad mini with Retina Display

I want to thank Staples for the opportunity to do the Technology post for them and for the gift card they have send me.  With it I was able to reduce the price of the iPad mini with Retina Display when it came to purchase it.  

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Disclaimer: Full disclosure, Staples provided me with a gift card to inspire me to share my experience. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stocking Stuffer Ideas with Hasbro Canada

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I was introduce to stocking when I was younger.  We would go to my paternal grand-parents and there we would each have a stocking with little goodies in it.   MY uncle was from England and I suspect that this tradition came from him along with the crackers we had to pull to find a surprise in it.   As a French Canadian from Quebec, I don’t recall having stocking on the other side of the family.    Nevertheless, the “tradition” of having a stocking under the tree stayed with me and when we got married and had kids, we decided to do the stocking first thing on Christmas morning.  Most of the time, we would insert chocolate and other small goodies.  But as the kids grow up, I started to wonder what else we could include in the stocking.   So my daughter started to get scrunches for her hair and things like that.  But apart from food and dollar store things (which would last longer than the cheap toys found there) what else could we put in there?

Hasbro Canada has numerous ideas for stockings – from play-dog to characters like Littlest Pet Shop or Minions from Despicable Me I am sure you will find numerous fun things to include in the stocking of your kids this year.

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I have received some of their ideas.  Some are for little ones while other are for older kids and even adults.   Let’s look together some of the ideas from Hasbro Canada.

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Sesame Street Playskool mini plush

These take-along pals are perfectly sized for preschoolers to take on the go!   Assortment includes Big Bird, Murray, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Ernie and Bert. Each character is sold separately.

 

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Play-Dog Holiday Pack

What's the best gift for the holidays? The kind that lets you keep on creating! This TREAT WITHOUT THE SWEET Holiday Pack includes 10 bright colors of PLAY-DOH modeling compound for little hands to make amazing creations. It's the perfect choice whether you're having a party, giving gifts to students or just stuffing stockings at home. Give the gift of color and fun with the TREAT WITHOUT THE SWEET Holiday Pack!   The pack comes with  10 one-ounce cans of PLAY-DOH modeling compound.

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Angry Birds GO! Telepods

The Angry Birds app comes to life! This line of Hasbro toys captures all the launching and destroying fun of the app in physical form. Race this Angry Birds kart against other zooming pig and bird karts (other karts sold separately). Then it's easy to take the game to your mobile device (sold separately) and unlock your kart in the Angry Birds app! Just download the app, and then put your Telepods base and kart on your device. Scan your kart into the app and you can race it when you play Angry Birds Go! Fluff those feathers and run race after race with your Angry Birds kart!  Each set includes 1 kart, 1 Telepods base and instructions.

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Littlest Pet Shop characters

Adorable, wide-eyed pet comes ready to play with a special accessory for hours and hours of pet-lovin' fun!

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Scrabble Slam card game

SCRABBLE SLAM is a fast-paced word game where anything could happen! Race against each other to change the existing four-letter word and get rid of your cards. “Game” could become “fame” and “fame” could become “fate”—you never know where it’ll go. Be the first player to get rid of all of your cards to win!   This card game includes 55 cards and instructions.  It is perfect for 2 to 4 players.

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As you can see there are plenty of ideas from Hasbro to fill the stocking in your house.   My favorites this year might be the Sesame Street mini plush as well as the Angry Birds Go! Telepods.  

The Angry Birds Go! app is schedule to be release soon and I expect that many will purchase the app before Christmas.   These telepods will allow you to unlock the kart in the app as well as have fun with the telepods.   Considering there are numerous telepods to collect, it could make a fun item to include in the stocking of your kids this Christmas. 

You can find all these ideas and much more at your favourite toy store.  Next time you are at the store, don’t forget to look for these ideas and much more for your stockings…  

 

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Disclaimer: Thanks to Hasbro Canada for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.