Archive for the ‘Review’ Category
I used Grammarly (www.grammarly.com) to grammar check this post, because evidently grammar mistakes enjoy taking advantage of migraine-brain!
And yeah, this is a really old picture of the two older kiddos. Hard to believe they were once that size!
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Much nicer to give than to receive, eh?
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Doesn’t that make you make you wonder how you ever got along without it? I guess some progress is a good thing.
World of Warcraft
I suppose I’ll find out how many people are actually reading this post by how many comments I get about this entry. No doubt it seems completely out of character for me.
Actually, Nick and I both enjoy playing computer games, and we play World of Warcraft online together.
Does it have some violence and other content that’s not ideal? Yeah. Do people online (you play live with many, many people from all over the country, and even the world) sometimes say things that are inappropriate? Yeah. So? So I don’t let the little kids play. It’s FAR less offensive than many things I see and overhear on my average trip to the store, so I don’t feel that’s a reason to reject it out of hand.
I enjoy it as a mental escape, and I can choose whether to do exciting, challenging things, or mundane and peaceful things, depending on my mood. And I can play cooperatively with my teenager – and that’s valuable all by itself.
Want to check it out? You can play on a free starter account for 30 days; and if you email me at tiffany (at) tiffanyblitz (dot) com, I can send you an invitation link to get even more free bonus goodies.
Whew! I think I’m caught up now…
Disclosure: In some cases, I have received one or more complimentary products or services mentioned above in the hope that I would mention it on my website and/or in social media. In some cases, there are affiliate links, where clicking through one of my links would earn me a small referral commission – in which case, I am very grateful.
Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe may be good products/services for my readers.
I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What would you do if you were not afraid?
That is the very question one mother asked herself one day. What followed was a family journey of epic proportions – a journey of physical challenge, emotional endurance, teamwork, perseverance, and tremendous learning opportunities.
Would the journey be a dream come true – or a mother’s worst nightmare?
Together with her husband and young twin sons, Nancy Sathre-Vogel set off on her heavily laden bicycle to ride from one end of the world to the other – quite literally. Starting in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, they pedaled south for three years. Theirs was a journey of over 17,000 miles through fifteen countries.
Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World is Nancy’s memoir about her experiences on the road. In it, she grapples with the challenges any mother does. When is it time to cut the apron strings and send your children out on their own? How does a mother respond when the tides change and the children are capable of caring for their parents? How does one handle the responsibility of caring for your offspring in unknown and unpredictable circumstances? How do we know we’re doing the best for our children?
Changing Gears is also a book that will encourage you to reach for the stars. It’s a story of discovery of self, of priorities, of accepting hardships, and of appreciating blessings. It will challenge you to look at your own life through a different set of glasses.
Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World is organized as a travel log, with a map showing each leg of the journey, fun photos and facts, colorful anecdotes about people encountered along the way, and more. There’s even a Guinness Book of World Records record – sort of (you’ll have to read for yourself to see what I mean).
But Nancy also candidly documents her inner journey. Even after making the initial decision to embark on the trip, there are many obstacles – inner as well as outside. She has to care for her boys, while encouraging them to grow and mature; find the determination to keep going through the tough times; broaden and change some of her philosophies as she encounters new things. That’s what makes the book a good read – since I, for one, have absolutely zero interest in cycling further than the corner park!
You can grab a copy from Amazon – physical or digital:
Although the book is not particularly “dramatic” or a “can’t put it down” kind of read, I definitely recommend it.
I think it will be fun to browse through as a homeschool tool when my kids are a little older. And it’s a good nudge to help us mamas (and other folks) think outside the box, and outside our fear.
And there’s more about their other journeys (yes, there are!) on their website: Family on Bikes.
I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.
Some retailers offer affiliate programs, so for some of the products mentioned clicking through one of my links may earn me a small referral commission. In which case, I am very grateful.
You probably know by now that we’re Star Trek fans in our house. Last year, the kiddos even had a Star Trek birthday, complete with a Borg Cube cake that was my first foray into fondant, and very stressful!
Although we haven’t seen the new movie (and weren’t big fans of its predecessor, being fans of the classic stuff), it is definitely nice that the publicity has generated a new wave of fun Trek stuff.
I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to review something from the array of Star Trek Costumes out there. To be sure we’re in compliance with the new FTC rules, let me state here that I was given the costume pieces we’re about to discuss for free, for the purpose of writing this review; full details are at the bottom of the post.
The kids already had their costumes from the party (see first photo), so they opted for some accessories – cool phasers! Trek fans may note that the costumes are from the new movie, while the phasers are from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The kids don’t seem to mind.
Battery powered. Cool noises. What more could you ask for?
I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.
I was happy to be offered the opportunity to review a creation from Aloha Island Lei – and frankly, I had no idea what I was getting into when I was asked.
A few days later, a box showed up on my porch marked “Perishable” and “Plant Products from Hawaii”!
It was carefully packaged, including an ice pack, and sent with fast delivery. Inside was…
Nothing like I ever imagined a lei looking like! This was a … floral sculpture that was just beautiful!
The timing worked out well (quite unintentionally!), since this week we are celebrating Miss J’s birthday, as well as her (annual) ballet recital. She was more than happy to have this lovely fashion accessory to wear to some of our various celebrations.
The lei we received is the Kalihi.
I was very surprised how long it has lasted. With the care tips they provide (there’s even a short video on the website), we’ve had the lei over a week and it still looks beautiful!
They offer everything from a basic lei (surprisingly inexpensive), to these gorgeous artwork pieces. If you don’t happen to live in Hawaii, shipping is the worst part, since they are fresh flowers and have to get there fast.
What an amazing gift, though, to make a special occasion memorable!
Over time, I have had a number of issues with WalMart prices seeming to be confused, shelf tags misleading, and so on. But this one… This takes the cake.
Typically things like this don’t make the blog, but this one really needs to be shared as a Public Service Announcement.
This incident took place at the Super WalMart store in Gulfport, MS. (The similar incidents referenced were at other stores).
The shopping trip was intended to purchase a keyboard – the one that came with our new desktop was just SO cheap and non-ergonomic that it was not usable.
Right across the aisle from the keyboards were monitor stands – something else I needed to fix my posture. I’ve been making due with 2 reams of copy paper, but for $18 it seemed a reasonable investment to also gain the storage space underneath (not to mention getting the paper back!).
There was only one type there – and the shelf tag listed it for $18.00; I grabbed one. It was this one, The Allsop “Metal Art Jr. Monitor Stand,” Model # 27021. (See scan of actual package)
After picking up a few other items, I went up to the register. Unfortunately, they told me that it cost $19.96. (See receipt)
When I questioned this, the checker agreed to send someone back to do a price check. This took quite some time, and several calls on the in-house phone, since she could not locate them. Finally, the answer I got was that the $18 was “the one next to it.”
Hm. That’s just what they said about some speakers we didn’t buy there a few months ago. Seems a bit much to be a coincidence.
Jewel’s ballet lesson was due to finish within a few minutes, so I needed to leave. I told her to go ahead and ring up the purchase, fully intending to investigate further, and document the situation, at another time (and return the item).
When I arrived home, my first step was to check WalMart.com.
Imagine my surprise when I could find the very same monitor stand listed online for $15.78 – with free Site to Store shipping. (See screen capture of digital receipt)
I ordered it, and the next week during ballet class I went back to the store.
First stop, returning the one I’d purchased at Customer Service. No problem getting a refund for $19.96 plus tax.
Next stop, the computer accessory department.
Sure enough, something totally different was shelved to the left of it. Nothing at all was in the slot to the right of it (and a shelf tag was there with a only a few random characters on it, not an item tag, and not for $19.96).
So, WalMart, why is this happening?
- Why does the item not simply ring up at the correct price (as shown on the shelf tag)?
- Why do your employees give false information about the correct price? Incompetence, or corporate malice, or ??
- Why can I purchase the very same item online for over $2.00 less than the shelf price ($4.00 less than what you’re charging!)… ?
- … and why does is say “available RIGHT NOW for pickup!” when I select “Ship to Store”? So you KNOW that you are selling me your store inventory, cheaper than you are willing to sell it to a walk-in customer. Hm.
I guess I’ll go back to Amazon. I can almost always find what I want, typically cheapest anyway, and usually with a free shipping option.
Wanting to test-drive a keyboard is one thing. I’m not going to fall for the impulse buys anymore, though.
They both “graduated” to a pedal bike. “From what?” you ask?
Their prior bikes were modified by Papa (removing the pedals and chain) to create what is commonly called a Strider Bike or Balance Bike. The commercial version comes in a range of designs, but here are a couple of examples:
Although Jewel was 5 (and R.T. 2), neither of them had had a lot of exposure to cycling, and both were struggling. After reading about the balance bikes, we decided to ditch the training wheels approach for good.
With the balance bike, the child learns to balance on the seat, steer the bike, lean into turns, and so on. Many things that they actually learn to do incorrectly with training wheels! Since they didn’t get much chance to ride until recently, our kids had their balance bikes for about two years.
With a little instruction about getting started, Jewel literally got on her bike and took off! Wow!!
R.T. took a few more laps of “hand-holding”, since he was more unsure of himself. For two days (short periods each day) he fumbled along, but after that he was whizzing along with no worries.
Quite a different story from the drama I remember when I had to learn to ride without my training wheels!
I can now recommend without hesitation the balance bike method of teaching a child to ride a bicycle. And with a free or cheap second-hand bike and a few simple modifications, you don’t even have to spend the money on a fancy commercial version.
P.S. Jewel now owns a couple of split skirts for bike riding, to allow her more freedom of movement (and safety) while staying modestly covered even if the wind comes up! More that just culottes, these are more inspired by the women of the Wild West. But these deserve a post of their own, so stay tuned!
You may or may not be “into” Valentines. My personal sentiment is somewhat middle-of-the-road, with a slant towards non-observance.
But you know what? When the photo sites offer a great deal on a “Valentine’s” card, or even a “Mother’s Day” card or “Birthday” card, you can typically find a card that you can create for another use of your choice – and still get it at a great price!
So I present today’s “Valentine’s Day” sale offer from Snappily, which offers a really fun “animated” photo card:
(The coupon is single-use, and they are reserving the right limit quantities, so order quickly!)
Have you ever had that feeling of flavor filled nostalgia?
We recently took a trip to Disney World and had a wonderful time. During all of our planning we each thought about what things we really wanted to do that would make us feel satisfied after the vacation was over. One thing on the list was to go have pineapple Dole Whip at the Tiki Room.
Well, we did have some Dole Whip at the Magic Kingdom and to our extreme satisfaction, we were able to have it 3 times. We found that the Polynesian Resort had self serve Dole Whip at one of its eateries. There we created MOUNT DOLE WHIP.
Now it’s in our brain … and taste buds. We are looking for Mr. Dole Whip.
I tried a recipe tonight that left us wanting. It tasted more like pineapple ice cream. It wasn’t tangy enough and was too creamy and too sweet.
The recipe used:
1 quart of pineapple juice
3 cups of whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 cups of sugar
and top it off with milk
The family all agreed that it was really good pineapple ice cream, but not the elusive Dole Whip.
So, the search continues. Perhaps we need to start with a sherbet or sorbet recipe?
As I’ve posted previously, last year I purchased the inexpensive eBook Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands after reading a friend’s recommendation on Facebook.
It’s set up to be a Christmas ornament each day, but we decided to modify things a little and make each project into one page of an Advent Book. I’ve had several people ask me about it, so I wanted to do this follow-up post and show you what I mean.
Shown are Day #2 – Kingdom (by Jewel), and Day #3 – Zacharias (by R.T., with writing by Mama).
I had some heavier-weight paper/cardstock that we had purchased to print greeting cards. It came in four colors, and the kids decided to do multi-colored books. I think having the heavier weight (rather than just paper) is a good call, since some of the projects do have a bit of mass to them. Color is entirely a matter of preference, of course.
A gracious friend gave us some “pocket” 3-ring binders, so that they could do a piece of artwork on plain paper and just slip it in. Obviously, the options for decorating your covers are endless.
We didn’t get all the way through with our Advent projects, and (as you can see) the covers need to be done as well. This year December will be VERY full, so I think finishing up the boos we started last year is a realistic plan.
This year, in addition to the eBook itself, you can purchase a set of printable ornaments from Truth in the Tinsel.
This would speed up the process, be more portable (to work on while travelling, etc.), and also help with the “flattening” if you want to do a book like we did.
However you choose to celebrate the season, I pray that you will remember to keep your focus on “the Reason for the season.”
30 Days of Thankfulness
(A reminder to do what we are commanded in Scripture.)
November 30th, 2012.
I am thankful for Disney helpers.
With our Disney vacation just a few days away now, I can more or less look back over the process of getting everything ready… And I realize how important my helpers were along the way. There’s a lot to this planning, and people with specialized knowledge make all the difference!
I am thankful for Disney Dining’s cast members.
Making most of the reservations online was simple enough, but there are always a few snags. How do I book the package with the show reservations? How do I change all of these reservations from 5 people to 4? One call to a toll-free number, and cheerful Disney folk were able to handle it all.
I am thankful for Disney Dining’s gluten free policies, the special diet department, and the information they provide.
Honestly, I think I would be too overwhelmed to try a vacation like this to a place where I didn’t feel comfortable about being able to get “safe” food.
I am thankful for my Disney “Earmarked” Travel Planner.
Again, I could have booked a hotel and bought tickets online myself. But I don’t know which rooms have the best view, much less how to request them. And adding the Free Dining Plan after the fact? Making payments on my trip? Changing things at the last minute due to Wolf’s military schedule?
Yes, I could have called Disney each time, and I’m sure the cheerful folks there would have been able to handle each request. But I can’t tell you what a relief it was to have a single, knowledgeable point of contact who knew and could do everything. And there’s no charge for the hand-holding – agents’ commissions come out of Disney’s part of the bill.
I can’t speak highly enough about Chris at Pixie Vacations, so I want to share her information with you. She did not seek this promotion, and I am not receiving any compensation for it. Please do tell her As For My House sent you, so she knows how much we appreciate her!
ChrisW (at) pixievacations (dot) com
Her blog / website: Everything Walt Disney World
And here we are… A whole month of gratitude!
Feels good, doesn’t it?