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30 October, 2012

Stove in a Can Review and Giveaway!


     I've got to say, I'm pretty bummed that camping season is all but over and so is The Big One who didn't get a chance to even use her brand new fishing rod.  It will be hard to wait until next fishing season to use it.  But that doesn't mean we have to stop all camp activities.  No Siree, in fact we have every intention of having us some backyard camping with a fall picnic as soon as the ground dries up, just as if we were ACTUALLY camping. When I first thought to do this I figured that we would just bring cold sandwiches and some drinks, but that would be a pretty cold day.
     Lucky for me, I came across this awesome invention called Stove in a Can.  If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you need to know about this.  It's a Can, about the size around as a normal gallon of pain, but half as tall.  Inside the can is everything you need to make a functioning stove to cook on.  This is absolutely awesome, check this out:
     First, you take the long zig-zag looking piece (fuel ring) and bend it into a coil.  That part was super easy.  Also, don't let the picture fool you, mine really was a zig zag.
     Then you add the fuel cell by placing it on top of your coil.  I made sure it was on fire first, but it doesn't need to be.
     After that, you add the thicker ring (the cooking ring) on top that will support your cooking surface or pan.  It fit nicely right into the can's natural groove.
   Lastly, if you choose to, you can place the can's lid upside down right onto the tall ring and use it as a burner.  I chose to just place my pan on top so it would be easier to grab the lid to distinguish the flame when the time came.  If you are cooking for an hour or so, it won't really matter because the fuel cell lasts about that long and will go out on it's own.
I wish I had thought to take a picture of the contents before I lost the instruction manual.  It took us all of 10 minutes to lose it cause we are talented like that.   But let me paint you a picture of what it looked like.  First, I opened it up.  I was nervous because although I was fairly certain it popped open just like a paint can, I didn't want to harm the can if I were wrong.  I was right, it did just pop like a paint can.  I used a butter knife.  When I lifted the cover off, I immediately saw a nice and neatly folded Instruction Manual.  It was a small square, it would fit perfectly in a back pocket.
     Under that were 4 big round cells wrapped in brown waxy paper topped with a round sticker.  They are about as big as a CD, maybe slightly larger and fairly thick.  After lifting them, I immediately saw the cooking ring inside the bottom of the can.  I took that out to discover the fuel ring behind it.  Then I noticed the small box of waterproof matches hidden away down there.
     Can I just say that I stink at lighting matches?  I mean, normal matches with a normal box I am fine with.  But match books, strike anywhere matches, extra long matches or "waterproof" ones are NOT my friend.  I was skeptical when I saw these so called waterproof matches, so I thought I would give them a test.  I rubbed the match along the very wet ground and struck it.  I didn't even have to strike it twice!  That baby lit right up with no fuss.  I felt proud.
     After getting it out and set up, it was time to try it light it up.  For this part, I did have some trouble.  I'm not sure if it was because of the weather or what... after all, it was very breezy and wet out.  But I used several matches and finally used the fire that I had accidentally started by throwing a match into our fire pit (whoops!).  After placing it over the fire for a few seconds, it did catch.  I think if I had tried the technique where you light the cell wrapper on fire to light the cell or had put the cell in the can before trying to light it, it would have gone much easier.  But I wanted to be able to re-wrap the cell because I was not using it for a long time and knew there would be plenty cell leftover.  So I tried the method where you take some cell bits off the edge and crumble them in the center.  It just didn't work so well for me that way.  But I did get it started and when it did start, it was a very nice flame.  It didn't threaten to go out when crossing the grass to get back to our table, though the wind did blow.
   When I put the pan on, I worried that the tall coil would not support it well and the pan would be tippy, but not so.  The pan stayed nice and still and I was super impressed with the whole thing.  I will definitely be recommending this to my Father-in-law and my brother who are both very outdoorsy.  They will appreciate a compact, environmentally friendly stove on the go.  And with SIX fuel cell refills costing you about $23, it's not like it's going to break the bank.
     I am super excited that I got to try this out, I have been curious about it for quite a while.  Would you like to try one?  Stove in a Can was nice enough to offer one of my readers a can of their own, perfect for those pesky power outages or for some last minute camping escapades.  Just make sure you use it OUTDOORS.  Okay, ready to try to win it?  It's super simple, just use this Rafflecopter and you are in!  The contest will last two weeks, so don't delay!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

26 October, 2012

Letztalknow Mailbox and Cards Review

     A while back, I had this idea to start a mailbox with my kids.  Every few days, I would put a new activity suggestion or loving note or drawing from me to them.  I even made magnets to go on the mailbox, one for each child so that they would know when the mail inside was for just them.  I had every intention of keeping up with it.  But after a few weeks, I ran out of ideas (unless you count chores that needed doing) and it seemed like I always had something more pressing to do than to use my time finding ideas online.
     So when I saw Letztalk's kids mailbox system, I knew it was just the thing I needed.  It had all the pieces that I tried to make in my system.  It has the letters and cards with questions and it had activity suggestions.  It has magnets to decorate or you could use them as a system for letting the kids know who the mail is for.  It has a flag, which the one I tried to set up didn't.  I love the flag.
     What I love about this system is that the cards are sold in age groups.  There are cards for ages 5-8, ages 9-12 and for teens.  I received a set for both 5-8 year olds and 9-12 year olds since my oldest is just shy of 8.  She is a smart one too, so the 9-12 year old cards are a great fit for her.
     I love the content in the cards as well.  While some questions are simple and fun, some are thought provoking and some cards give challenges, like "Do something nice for someone".  There are also blank cards that you can write on (perhaps in dry-erase) and envelopes to place the letters in.
     There isn't one thing I don't love about this mail system.  In fact, the only suggestion I would have is to come out with more card sets for when we run out!  A big big thanks to Letztalk for the mail system.  This will be going on my dining table for sure (as soon as I get one) for dinner conversation and more.
     Here are just a few ways to use the cards as suggested by Letztalknow.com:
Let Their Thoughts be Known — Take the deck of 40 age-appropriate question cards and have each student or group member pick a card and keep it face down. One by one have each child/teen turn the card over and answer the question and let his/her thoughts be known.

Take the Challenge — Select the challenge cards from the combination deck. Choose a group of students to pick a card and read it aloud. The students are given 24 hours to take the challenge and report their accomplishments.

Getting to Know Them  — Ten question cards are selected at random. Each card is revealed one at a time. The child/teen answers the question based on his/her feelings. The adult writes down what they think the child/teen will answer.  After all ten questions have been answered, reveal your answers and begin getting to know them. 
     Do you have a system for keeping the lines of communication open with your kids?


Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Three ER visits this week!

     On Friday, as I was waiting for an ultrasound in the waiting room, I was attacked with a severe case of back pain.  It felt very much like a kidney pain that you would get with a kidney infection or a bladder infection.  I went through with the ultrasound, crippled in pain and decided that I would go in later if it still hurt.  After getting the girls out of school, I could still feel it, so my mom came with me and three of the girls to the ER and it was determined that I had a VERY VERY slight tract infection which would normally be no biggie.  but since I am pregnant, they game me a prescription and sent me home while advising me to call back in 2 days to get actual culture results and make sure I have the right meds.  I called on Sunday and I had no actual infection, so I stopped the meds and the pain was gone by then anyway.

     On Tuesday, I sent my daughter to go let the dog outside so he could pee and next thing I know, she is coming in my room crying in pain.  I asked her what happened and she tells me that she hit the counter.  Ummm, Okay... "Were you THAT mad that I made you get up and let the dog out?" I asked her.  No real response came.  I decided to wait because she can bet over-dramatic when it comes to pain.  But 45 minutes later, she still winced and shrunk back with pain when it was touched or moved, so we went in with the baby.  The girls crawled on the floor and tossed glove balloons and rolled a bouncy ball while we waited and waited.  Finally she got an x-ray and she had broken her hand where the pink bone is almost all the way through the bone.  After some prodding, she admitted that the dog had plowed her over and she tried to retaliate by hitting him, only he was under the counter at the time.  She ended up hitting the counter instead and injured herself  *sigh*  So lesson was learned and she gets a more permanent cast on Monday that she will keep for 6 weeks.

     And last night I went in again for pain, but this time on my left side.  I normally wouldn't go in for pain, but since I am pregnant I don't like to take chances.  This felt like a bad cramp in my left side and was pretty constant.  It was tender to the touch and After waiting a few hours for it to resolve, I went in.   Three hours in a room with a drippy faucet and a ticking clock and i was sent home with a couple Tylenol and a mini spring water.  The doc said he thinks it's muscular, but I am following up with my own doctor (something I never do) just to be sure.

     So that was my week so far.  I've spent about 11 hours in the hospital, only about 20 minutes of that actually talking to someone.  The peace and quiet has been nice, but I am glad it is done with.

22 October, 2012

Champion Me Books Review and Giveaway!

     I have 4 girls, so it makes sense that some of these girls share similar interests.  For example, The Punk and The Big One both enjoy horses quite well and so each have their own collection of toy horses.  They ALL enjoy art and a few of them enjoy nature collecting.  They all enjoy reading as well.  They enjoy it so much that they fight over books.  While this makes me very happy that they all love to read, it also can be frustrating.  I ask myself, am I right?  Is that book really Streakers?  Or did I just give Baby Bee's book to the wrong kid?  I felt bad earlier today as I contemplated this as The Punk had a mini meltdown over a book she claimed was hers.
     There are a few solutions to this.  I could inscribe the book when I get it, if I remember.  I could also make sure each kid keeps their own books put up or even only get community property books until they are old enough to remember whose book is whose.  But I could also go the route of Personalized Children's Books and make sure that there is just no mistaking whose book it is.
     Enter Champion Me Books, a site where you can put your child right into the storyline.  I have always wanted to personalize some books for my kids, but the problem I have come across is that the book either portrays my child as a random child with my child's poorly cut out head on top, I can not put my tomboy into a boy-only scenario, there are not enough different stories for all of my kids, or there is just no customizing of the child at all and the character looks nothing like my kid except that they share the same gender and hair color.  Sometimes, there was so little customization that all my girls looked the same!
      That's why I was so impressed with Champion Me Books.  They gave me a tool so that I was in full control over what features my child had and what the character looked like.  Each book had a different character template.  I was able to customize so that Streaker's eyes were slanted, The Big One was in fact the most grown-up looking, and Punkerbutt's braid-obsession was recognized.  For the most part, my girls LOOK like my girls, which I think is pretty awesome.
     After reading all of the books, I had a hard time choosing a favorite.  They all had such different and wonderful stories.  From mischievous to heroic, whimsical to sci-fi, there was a story to match each of my girls.  All of the books can be read in their entirety with some sample pictures before ordering, so you don't have to worry about not liking the story.
     I love the illustrations.  They are neat and colorful and full of life, the girls will love them.
     There was one book in particular that I appreciated for it's message.  There was a book about overcoming fears, one about having fun and one about being a bit naughty.  But one (pictured above) had a message about seeing people for who they are,despite how they look and I think that is a great message, one that I hope my kids never lose sight of.
     Checking out was super simple.  I loved that a membership was not necessary, I do dislike when you have to sign up just to order something.  It allowed me to create a dedication, which is a nice touch I thought, and it let me double check it before it was finalized.  It then asked me which book format I would like to order with the prices right there to help me choose.
     Afterwards, it asked for payment and coupon/gift codes and then promptly sent me my e-books through a link in an e-mail.  When I clicked on it, I saw a list of all the books I had ordered and easy clickable download options for both PDF and EPub.  I chose PDF, though both are easily read through my computer and I can go back and re-download them through different formats if I choose.
     Overall, the process was insanely simple and fun.  My girls all have their own personalized book with stories to suit their strengths and interests.  I couldn't be more pleased with Champion Me Books and I hope there are more books in the future.
     To enjoy Champion Me Books for yourself, check out their site here or their Facebook here.  In the mean time, please feel free to try to win a personalized paperback book.  Contest ends in 2 weeks, so don't wait!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

It's a boy!

     Yep, that's right!  After four amazing and wonderful girls, we are going to be starting all over with our last little bundle of testosterone.  The girls are excited to be getting a brother (most of them anyway) and are making him little trinkets of love already.   We don't have a set name yet, but we have some names we are pretty happy with.

     Do you have one of each?  How do you feel that they differ?

Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Say NO to GMO!!! Please don't ignore this issue!


As a mom of 4 girls I want what's best for them. I regulate processed foods and sugary drinks and do my best to keep them healthy. I had no idea how bad I was doing for them! Who is familiar with GMOs? GMO stands for genetically modified organisms and it is in more products than you think. I have always known that the outbreak of diseases and allergies were linked to what we have done with our foods and now I have watched a video that has really broke it down in such a simple way that it just clicked. It ALL makes sense to me! Why are our children going into the doctors with so many stomach or digestive problems? Why are so many people developing strong food allergies all of a sudden... and to foods that are not normally a problem?My concern has been growing with all the forms that need to be signed in school so there is no cross contamination. If this keeps up, how will we feed our kids at school? So many foods will be harmful to different kids.

We need to stand together and put our mothering/ fathering/ caring foot down and say NO to GMO! Our government has seen the research and saw that through testing our GMO foods have changed genitalia, spread disease, caused allergies, birth defects and death. What are we doing??? Why are we allowing this?? We will take a stand when it comes to animal cruelty or not giving fattening foods in our schools cafeteria but this is an issue that has been around for 30 years and I am just learning about the cause and effects of this! We label our foods gluten free, or sugar free but GMO foods are not even required to put it out there and disclose it!

I strongly urge you... more than I have ever urged anything on my blog... to watch this video. It is long... an hour 1/2 but you won't regret it! Please, please, please... watch this video, start buying non-gmo foods and claim our health back. You have known for a while that there is something going on with our foods and that it is linked to our health but believe me... until you have seen this... you won't fully understand. I also ask that when you are done watching this video that you share... whenever you think of it... that only takes a second. I will be going through my cupboards and fridge because I certainly do not want to offer it to my children any more and I hope to God that I have not done damage already. The changes are dramatic once you cut it out of your diet. It does absolutely no good for you. Why keep it in the home?? Once we say NO, they can't sell GMO.



Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

10 October, 2012

Knot Genie Review



     Cute little girls are not so cute when their hair is all over the place in snarls. What a difference it makes when their hair is nicely combed out and even better when they sit long enough for braids. But if you have girls and they are anything like mine, it is easier to keep their hair in a short style than deal with the hassle of combing out the knots. That was the case anyways, until we got our Knot Genie!
The Knot Genie is a magical brush that has different shaped teeth which really help those snarls just dissapear. The cloud shaped handle is not only fun to look at but fits the palm nicely of left or right handed people and kids of all ages. They also offer mini versions they call Teeny Genies with a huge variety of colors in both sizes. They range from $14.99-$19.99.

     Does it actually work? Well, I went from fighting all 4 of my girls every morning to keeping my KnotGenie in the van and now on the way to school, we pass it around and they brush their own hair with it! You tell me :) It is the brush of choice and the girls ask for it by name whenever I dare threaten to use a normal brush. The only complaint I have is that when I opened the box, our KnotGenie was in two separate pieces and it takes a second to get the cloud shape to snap back on. It is sort of like the easter eggs you get that weren't shaped quite right.  But the back coming off gives way to a perfect hiding spot for little hair bows, elastics or bobby pins.

The Knot Genie is the best product to happen to my family in a long time.  You will not regret trying it on your own snarl monsters.  It's a morning saver for sure!
Do you struggle with your kids to get their hair brushed?

Except for the product(s) given to me for the purpose of reviewing, I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
 
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