Alex Toys Products Review

ALEX Toys Little Hands Paper Bag MonstersALEX Toys Little Hands Paper Plate Bugs

ALEX Toys Little Hands Cupcake Craft

Disclosure:  These Alex Toys Kits were purchased by qualitytimes7 and this review is not sponsored or affiliated with Alex Toys.

  •     I am missing my blogging world and had to stop in and share a few products before I leave for Italy and Greece Saturday.  B is getting Kindergarten ready, and we are getting ready for our big move at the end of May to New York.  My Speech and Debate team is keeping me busy, we had Districts last week and Regionals this weekend.  Of course all of my other students are keeping me moving as well.  Right now I am on auto-pilot trying to get as much done as possible each day.  One awesome share though, my son Jake is my student this session, the first child I have ever taught, it is going well.
We made five monsters total and had a Monster Inc. family movie night.


  • When I am busy like this, I always have terrible mother’s guilt.  My husband is home right now full-time with the kids so I know they are taken care of, but that doesn’t stop that nagging feeling that I am not doing justice by them.  One way I cope is to create as much quality time and activities for them when I am at home.  It is this mentality that brought me to Alex Toys Arts and Crafts Kits.
The five “Bug” projects Amazon Retail:  $17.99
  • B is home schooled right now and has a part-time teacher.  We are being very creative as we work on pasting, cutting, shapes, colors and other “getting ready” for Kindergarten skills.   Recently we went on an outdoor scavenger hunt and looked at different bugs.  Her favorite was the lady bug, and when it flew away she was so sad. I was happy to make a lady bug with her. I had told her that it had to find its mommy and she seemed okay with that.   I used the paper plate bugs to reinforce color, shape, discuss the body type of different bugs, and pasting skills.
Each kit comes with everything you need for each craft. B and  I love the chunky glue stick.
One package of the few crafts in the Cupcake themed box. Amazon Retail:  $8.99
  • We have not opened our cupcake themed box yet.  I have left it for my mother when I am out of the country.  My mom thought it would be great to have her make some of the projects as a welcome home gift when I came back.  Jake and I are both leaving for eleven days and I will share pictures when we get back.  Update:  B insisted that we make the firefly project in the cupcake box and I have to say this is my least favorite of the three.  It is a lot of sticking cupcake wrappers together.  I think the fairies above may be a bit easier.

If you are interested in any of the above projects and many more, you can find them by clicking here:

Paper Bag Monsters

Paper Plate Bugs

Hands Cupcake Craft

Talk to you all soon.  Let me know what you think of the kits.  They are less expensive then some of our subscription boxes and include many more products.  I still am a HUGE Kiwi Crate fan.



Friday Favorites: My Favorite Food Blogs

friday favorites

–     Today I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite Cooking Blogs.  Fall is an exciting time for cooking, the cool weather and the smell of cinnamon, pumpkin and apples are commonplace in my home. I am by no means a cooking expert, I just have a large amount of cooking classes in my repertoire, many cook book reviews, a larger than life recipe collection.  In truth, I am a food lover and an amateur chef.  Despite my lack of formal training, one of the wonderful aspects of cooking is that you do not have to be a genius in the kitchen.  The food community is one that is willing to share and teach. For today’s Friday Favorites I am going to link you to a few of my favorite all-time cooking blogs that are truly inspirational.

Blog One:

Lanzhou Chicken Noodle Soup

–    Photographer, fitness studio owner and mom are just a few of the many hats that Kajal Tejsinghani wears each day.  When I am looking for healthy but delicious food inspiration, she is one of the first blogs I turn to.  Her pictures are gorgeous (jealous here) and her recipes are not of the ordinary variety, nor are they easy to replicate. You will find that her recipes use grams and milliliters so you will need to do the conversions. There are online converters that make this easy like the one here.

My Favorite Recipe :  Extremely Health Granola.  I put this in a yogurt parfait with fresh berries.

Blog Two:  Local Milk

rosemary & lindt white chocolate truffle beignets

–     I have never met Beth Kirby and yet on some level I feel I know her well.  Her bio drew me into her blog and I am a true fan.  She is dark and light, mysterious and talented.  Working as a freelance stylist, photographer, and recipe developer she has made a name for herself.  She lets her readers know that she is not “in it for the simply pretty. I’m in it for contrast and mess, the counter-intuitive, the strange, and the dark. I’m a mystic with the moon forever in the corner of my eye.”  If her writing does not draw you into her blog, her recipes and photography will. My favorite recipe:  Lavender, Blueberry, Ricotta turnovers.

lavender blueberry & ricotta turnovers

Blog Three:  What Katie Ate


–     James Beard award winner Katie Quinn Davies now has two cookbooks under her belt:  What Katie Ate: Recipes and other bits and bobs, and What Katie Ate on the Weekends.  Originally from Dublin, Katie now works a a freelance photographer in Sydney Australia.  She has not only amassed a large following of viewers, she has many prestigious photos and recipes in some of the most popular magazines out there.  You can see Katie’s about page by clicking  here.  I really appreciate Katie’s twists on classics dishes, and the way her recipes make cooking approachable.

My Favorite Recipe: Smokey Bacon and Chicken and Mac and Cheese


Blog Four: David Lebovitz

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

–    Paris absolutely stole my heart last November, so it is no great surprise that the incredibly accomplished Mr. David Lebovitz and his amazing recipes would as well.  I have to admit I am a tad biased. He has authored seven cookbooks that provide readers with wit, humor and fantastic recipes, including one of my favorites, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the Worlds Most Glorious CityWhen you visit his blog, you will find not only recipes, but also introductions to some of the best restaurants and food related articles.  I could easily spend hours going through all of his books and blog writings. Although it is very difficult to choose a favorite recipe, I am getting ready to attempt his New England Clam Chowder.  It is one of my all-time favorites.

Blog Five: Inspiralized

Inspiralized Cookbook

–     Ali Maffucci has taken healthy eating to a whole new level with her blog Inspiralized.  I became a fan after receiving a spiralizer in a subscription box.  My husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how delicious vegetable noodles tasted and we have been trying to incorporate them more in place of pasta.  Ali’s site offers readers free recipes with clear directions.

Goat Cheese Panzanella Salad with Spiralized Cucumbers

Favorite Recipe: Goat Cheese Panzanella Salad with Spiralized Cucumbers

I really wanted to limit this to five blogs, but I have to admit this is very difficult.  Visit my Pinterest page here to see more of my favorite food blogs.  I will definitely continue to share in the future.  If you visit any of these sites or try their recipes, please let me know how they turn out.  Here is to a great fall weekend with fantastic food, family and fun.


Two on Tuesday: Kids Nutrition

Two on Tuesday–    Good morning!  I received wonderful news yesterday, well sort of.  They are not making me have a biopsy at this time and just putting me on thyroid meds.  I am not in the clear but I am so happy that the specialists decided to take this route.

–    The other night I looked up a name brand Macaroni and Cheese to see if it had any nutritional value whatsoever.  It is advertised towards kids and my four-year-old is a huge fan.  In fact I think she would eat it every night. To my dismay I began to read about their ingredient list, and realized that the chemicals inside this brand should not be ingested by a child.  I am really starting to be very careful as to what I give my little ones and I wanted to share two products that we have come to love.

Product One: Back to Nature ($9.98 for a nine pack)

–    Don’t get me wrong, I love Annie’s but the price tag is a little high.  With as many kids as I have this nine pack is a steal and it tastes delicious too.  I purchase this pack from our local Sam’s Club and I included the link above.  Back to Nature makes kid friendly foods that are organic.  I know that Annie’s offers a NON-GMO product, I have not found anything to say this is GMO free but it is a step up from cheaper options.  B loves both Annie’s and Back to Nature.

Product Two:  Cotton Candy Grapes from Grapery

–    My husband works in produce and he recently told me about these amazing seedless grapes.  They are NON-GMO and grown with sustainable farming practice.  I kid you not, these taste like cotton candy in your mouth.  My little ones go crazy for these.  I do cut them in half for my almost three year-old for safety reasons.

If you try either of these, let me know what you think.  I am not being paid to endorse these products, I just really care about our kids.  Have a great Tuesday!

Book Reviews: Things You Won’t Say and Eight Hundred Grapes

Two on Tuesday–    The selection process for this weeks book choices was fairly easy. Both books have content that is engaging and great for summer reading; the first book due to current events, and the other emphasizes  wine.  I am a sucker for both topics, especially considering my infatuation with Keanu Reeves and A Walk in the Clouds many years ago.

–     The first book centers on a police officer named Mike and his family.  While coping after a shooting that almost killed his partner, Mike pulls the trigger and finds himself charged with the murder of a young Hispanic boy, sending his whole family into a tailspin.  The second reading is also about family dynamics, and making decisions that impact not only your future, but everyone around you. Did I mention this book is all about wine too?

Things You Won’t Say by Sarah Pekkanen

“Every morning, as her husband Mike straps on his SIG Sauer and pulls on his heavy Magnum boots, Jamie Anderson tenses up. Then comes the call she has always dreaded: There’s been a shooting at police headquarters. Mike isn’t hurt, but his long-time partner is grievously injured. As weeks pass and her husband’s insomnia and disconnectedness mount, Jamie realizes he is an invisible casualty of the attack. Then the phone rings again. Another shooting — but this time Mike has pulled the trigger.

But the shooting does more than just alter Jamie’s world. It’s about to change everything for two other women. Christie Simmons, Mike’s flamboyant ex, sees the tragedy as an opportunity for a second chance with Mike. And Jamie’s younger sister, Lou, must face her own losses to help the big sister who raised her. As the press descends and public cries of police brutality swell, Jamie tries desperately to hold together her family, no matter what it takes.”

–     Things You Won’t Say seemed like the perfect choice for this week’s book review since it focuses on what appears to be the current social and media frenzy, police brutality, racism, and the lives it touches.   The book is well written and comes together, but that is part of the problem.  Racism and excessive force are serious concerns and the author chooses to neatly gift wrap a happy ending for her audience, which does not feel genuine.  Somehow the book just seems shallow, but then again it is a summer read with strong character development, not a true to life text.

–    You will get to know the female characters as they are the heart of the storyline.  We have a stay at home mom (Jamie), who is fighting to hold her family together,  her husband the police officer (Mike) who is unraveling, the “baby mama” (Christie) who comes across as self-interested and vain, as she seeks the affections of her ex, and Jamie’s little sister (Lou), who is complex but at times leaves the reader not sure where she fits into the whole story.  Maybe an outsider looking in on the situation?  Not quite sure.  I did like Lou though, there is something very special about a woman who gives up a career to work for pennies with animals at the zoo.

–     Overall I would recommend the book, it was an easy read, interesting and relevant.  The happy ending will appeal to many.  This is not a book I would read again though.  I found the dialogue between Mike and Jaimie painful at times.  It is probably because I have multiple kids, and I felt that Jaimie was being taken for granted. Sometimes Mike just seems downright cruel.  His reasoning at the end also did not seem acceptable, but Jaimie buys into it and they live happily ever after. The book is not going to leave you with a thorough understanding of the current political climate regarding the police and the use of excessive force.  The author, just like stay at home mom Jamie, just tidies everything up at the end.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

“You have to grow, mold, squish about eight hundred grapes to get just one bottle of wine. If that isn’t an argument to finish the bottle, I don’t know what is.”

–     The opening quote instantly draws the reader in and even though you are unsure as to what adventure lies ahead of you, you realize there will be lots of wine and beautiful grape vines, and that my dear readers, is enough reason to snag a copy of this great summer read.

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

–     There are so many moments while reading this book that I found myself taking a step back and just reading a sentence several times.  The author not only has an intricate story that gives a reader insight into a family on the edge, the writing itself just leaves you spellbound.  Here are a few examples of some of my favorite quotes:

“Synchronization. Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony, said to be synchronous, or in sync. The interrelationship of things that might normally exist separately.

In physics: It’s called simultaneity. In music: rhythm.

In your life: epic failure.”

“I stopped paying attention to her. I stopped doing the things that someone does for the person he loves. Because I was tired. Because other things always seems to matter a little bit more…That doesn’t happen overnight, you know. It happens slowly. You should be careful of that. You should be careful not to take the person you love for granted. Not only because they’ll notice. But you’ll notice too. You’ll think it means something it doesn’t…Like that’s how much you care.”

–     Beautifully written, this book can be a bit predictable at times, but then again there are some big surprises, and they will help you overlook the mundane.  I strongly recommend this book with a glass, no, a bottle of your favorite wine.

–   J

What’s New Wednesday

What's New-1–     What’s New Wednesday gives me a chance to share products that I love and where I found them.  I am a little under the weather this week due to a sinus infection so I will get caught up in the next few days…who gets sinus infections in the summer?

This week’s products are:

Item One:  BioRepublic Skincare Sheet Masks

–       BioRepublic is a newer American company based out of Atlanta, and their high quality, natural ingredient masks have no parabens, sulfates, pthalates and are 100% cruelty-free.  I first came across these sheet masks in my June Ipsy Bag. I found that these full face sheet masks offer great moisture, especially in the summer.  You do look a little funny wearing an all white mask and they do take a bit of effort to get them to fit correctly, but it was worth pain no gain right?

–     BioRepublic is currently offering an Ipsy Promotion through 7/31-8 masks for $30 with shipping included ($12 savings).   You will receive 2 masks in each of their four formulas:  Pomegranate Crush, Cucumber Breeze, Green Tea Detox and Aloe Rescue.  I really appreciate all natural products that are effective and I love that this is an American company.  I will be picking these up.

Item Two:  Too Faced Cosmetics Better Than Sex Mascara 

IMG_0207 (2)

–     Too Faced Cosmetics has been around for a bit and I was not surprised to see this mascara included in my June 2015 Glossybox.  I have a favorite mascara, I have used it for years, so the fact that I am willing to give it up for good to use this Better Than Sex Mascara came as a bit of a shock at first.  Too Faced Cosmetics  set out to create a build-able mascara and succeed.   A carbon black, collagen-fueled formula, which enhances lashes more and more with every coat,  Better Than Sex Mascara will become a staple in many make up bags.  The hourglass-shaped brush definitely gives this mascara something special and helped to volumize my lashes as it lifts both top and bottom lashes.

–     These are my two this Wednesday, do you have any products worthy of a share or comment?


DIY Kids: Big Hero Six Family Movie Night

Film:  Big Hero Six

–     In honor of our nine-year-old returning home, we had a welcome back family movie night.  Since we had so much fun, we are going to do two more over the summer.  Next month is Frozen in July.

Centerpiece:  DIY Baymax Baloons and Clay Holder

IMG_1918 (2) IMG_1919 (3)

Extras:  Baymax Tees and Waterbottles

My 2-year-old rocking his Baymax T-shirt

Food: Baymax Pizza, Popcorn and Your Health Companion Salad!

IMG_1929 (2)

IMG_1947 (2)IMG_1950 (2)IMG_1956 (2)

Special thanks to Endlessly Inspired for providing the template for our Baymax Bags.

Tip: Use card stock, we used printer paper and lined the bags with zip lock sandwich bags but they were not very sturdy.

Special thanks also to dimple Prints for her Big Hero Six Popcorn recipe.

Tip:  You can also make sushi instead of pizza.  I had considered PBJ sushi since my kids do not like regular but I was out voted.

Activity:  Make Your Own Baymax

Fun with clay IMG_1928 (2)IMG_1938 (2)

Even the teens had fun….

IMG_1943 (2)

Plan Ahead-Items Purchased:

Baymax Tee (eBay)
Zak Designs Disney's Big Hero 6 Tritan Water Bottle by Zak Designs, 25-Ounce, Clear
Zac Designs Water bottles
Crayola Air-Dry Clay 5 LBS

–   We had enough for three fairly large Baymax sculptures.

Kenny's Black Licorice Laces 1LB Bag
Kenny’s Black Licorice Laces

Tip:  We used these for Baymax eyes on the sculptures and on the pizza.  They also made a great snack.

Popcorn Items (refer to recipe link above, if item not included you can find it in your grocery store without hassle):

Wilton Edible Pens (you need black for the eyes on the Jordan Almonds in the popcorn).
Wilton Red Candy Melts, 12-Ounce
Red Chocolate Candy Melts

The Jordan Almonds were purchased at a local grocery store in the bulk department.  It was much more cost effective that way.

–     Kids grow up way too fast and a Family Movie Night is a great way to get the them together, spend quality time as a family, and make memories. We had a great night and the hug I received from our nine-year-old was priceless.

–  J

IMG_1951 (2)

Two on Tuesday 3/10/15

Disclosure:  This post contains two referral links (Glossybox and Pop Sugar).

–     I was trying to think of something creative to share, and I realized Tuesdays would be a great day to share two of my favorite items either from subscriptions or just fun items in general.

–     Today I am loving on Vichy Laboratores Purete Thermale 3 in 1 Face Wash and Ice Water Eyes by To Go Spas.  I purchased both of these on Amazon but first received the Vichy in a GlossyBox January Subscription and the Ice Water Eyes in my Pop Sugar Must Have Subscription January Box.

Ice Water Eyes in the January Pop Sugar Box.
GLOSSYBOX January 2015
The January Glossy Box including Vichy

Here is an up close look at both items.

Vichy Purete Thermale One Step Cleanser 3 in 1 300ml

To Go Spa Ice Water Eyes Collagen Gel Pads 3pk

–     The Vichy is wonderful for sensitive/combination skin.  I am really red around my nose and cheeks so I always look for something gentle but that does a really great job.  I love the fresh smell and it feels like cream going on.  Probably the most gentle cleanser I have ever used.

Here is a picture of how you apply. They feel like liquid gel packs.

–     The Ice Water Eyes was a huge surprise.  I am tired a lot with two little ones and teaching all day.  These collagen gel pads feel so cool as you put them under your eyes.  I did not put them in the fridge as they say you can do as a “cooler” alternative because I loved the way they felt out of the package.  When you open the sealed package, the masks are submerged in their special formula and are damp going on.  I have no complaints, and they definitely worked in terms of making the under eye puffiness decrease. More importantly, I just felt refreshed.  I have noticed some reviewers feel they don’t stay on easy enough.  I just rested with these and did not move around; which I think is the point.  I actually just purchased a box to take on my China trip this weekend to combat jet lag.

Happy Purchasing!


Setting the Holiday Scene Part II: Gifts for the Little Ones

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate or referral links.

–     I have been scouring high and low for the last few months to put together a fun list for toddlers and preschoolers.  My toddler A (2-year-old boy) and my preschooler B (4- year-old girl)  do not attend preschool, so when I look for holiday gifts I am pretty discerning.  I need to find gifts that are engaging, educational, promote physical activity and that will foster maturity on many different fronts.  My hope is that these gifts will not only delight my little ones, but will also keep on giving for the rest of the year.  The following are my top fifteen for the 2014 holiday season.  All items can be found on or by clicking provided links but prices will vary and coupon codes will change, especially as the holidays get closer.

Note:  You can see Setting the Holiday Scene Part I of this series by clicking here.

Item One:  Learning Resources Super Sorting Pie (Amazon).

–     Pie, fruits and vegetables, sorting, patterns, colors and fine motor coordination..what is not to love?

Item Two: Melissa & Doug See & Spell (Amazon)

Melissa & Doug See & Spell

–    My daughter B actually asked for this item.  I love how it is a puzzle but also helps with reading skills.

Item Three: Little Tikes Cozy Truck (Amazon and various providers)

Little Tikes Cozy Truck

–      All of my children have had a Little Tykes Cozy Car or another variation. We have never had a truck but I think this would be great for my two-year-old.

Item Four: Pure Fun Ladybug Jumper Trampoline (Amazon)

Pure Fun Ladybug Jumper Trampoline

–     What an awesome way to stay active during the winter months.  We are going to build this and have it ready to go for B by the tree.

Item Five:  Disney Princess Enchanted Cupcake Party Game (Target and Amazon)


–     B is still all about tea parties and this game is great in terms of memorization and patterns.   I know we will have many nights of cupcake fun.

Item Six:  A Kiwi Crate Gift Subscription

Kiwi Crate
Cost:  $19.99/monthly
Shipping:  United States and Canada

Click Here to receive 25% off your first crate.  Make sure to type HOLIDAY25 as your coupon code.

–     B and I have been completing Kiwi Crates since she was 2.  You can see a past review by clicking here.  She knows exactly what the green box is that comes on our porch each month and gets beyond excited.  Kiwi Crate is a once a month subscription service for kids ages 3-7 that provides themed arts and craft with a strong education experience.  I love coming home to this crate because I know my four-year-old and I are about to have a blast.  Kiwi offers many boxes for different ages and my coupon code above works for all boxes.  I will be reviewing their Koala Crate this month as well but they have a variety of amazing gifts.

Item Seven:  A Citrus Lane Gift Subscription

40% Off First Citrus Lane Box & Free Skip Hop Gift

Citrus Lane
$29/monthly or less with subscription choice
Ships to US, APO, DPO and FPO addresses

Coupon:  The above offer has now expired however you can receive 40% of your first box by Clicking here and typing JOLLY40 at check out.

–     I purchased a year to Citrus Lane for A for his birthday and holiday gift.  I absolutely love this subscription.  They have great items and often include something special for mom.  They typically also give you a choice of one item each month.  To see my November review click here or click here to see my October review.

Item Eight and nine:  Kindle Fire Kids Edition and a gift subscription to Free Time (Right now you get a 2-year warranty, a year of Free Time and a bumper case when you purchase this Fire for $119.00).

Fire HD Kids Edition: quick tour

–     We purchased B a Kindle Fire this summer but paid much more than the current offer.  I am considering picking one up for A.  We just started using the Free Time App and we love it.  Today B was working with shapes and patterns and reading Dr. Seuss.  You will receive hundreds of apps and books for free for a year and right now the subscription is only 2.99 a month.  You can also set parental controls on time and so much more.  My one word of caution is to absolutely set the parental controls correctly so that purchases can not be made by your little one.  The bumper case is fantastic.

Item Nine:  A gift subscription to

– I cannot speak highly enough about ABC Mouse. B could barely speak when she started using this program. She has graduated from the toddler levels and is full speed ahead to graduate pre-school. You can pay monthly or annually. I believe a year is around $59.00 and well worth the expense. Many home school programs are now using this service for lessons.

Items Ten and Eleven :  VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Garage and VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Emergency Vehicles 3-pack


–      My two-year-old is slightly obsessed with cars right now.  We saw this at a local store and he gripped it for dear life.  I put it back when he was not looking with full plans to send Santa a picture of what he would like.  I cannot wait to see his face and I have to give his grandma credit since it is coming from her.

Item 12:  ALEX Toys – Early Learning, Little Hands Twist & Drill, 1485

–     I think both my kids will enjoy this Alex product.  I initially was going to get it for my son, but my daughter saw the picture and was asking for it as well.  I would love to get her working with tools early.

Items Thirteen and Fourteen:  Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg and One by    Kathryn Otoshi

–     Each year I like to pick a special book for each child and leave them a special note.  This year I want my kids to know it is okay to make mistakes and love each other for all our wonderful differences.

–      A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator.

–     Blue is a quiet color. Red’s a hothead who likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one speaks up, things get out of hand — until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count. As budding young readers learn about numbers, counting, and primary and secondary colors, they also learn about accepting each other’s differences and how it sometimes just takes one voice to make everyone count.

Item Fifteen:  Ivy Kids Kits

Ivy Kids Subscription Kit
Ivy Kid Kits
Special:  Right now you can save 20% off of you your first box by typing IVY20 at checkout.

–     I am very fortunate that B’s grandmother purchases this kit for us each month.  We have had so much fun and she is learning so much.  You can see my October Review by clicking here.

Ivy Kits are a monthly educational subscription for children ages 3-8 developed by early childhood teachers with children of their own. Our goal is to provide monthly resources and tools to parents and caregivers looking to have more meaningful learning experiences with their children. Each month you will receive a kit containing more than ten activities based upon a classic children’s book. The activities have been carefully crafted to encourage curiosity, problem solving, and creativity in young children. The Ivy Kit games and projects are a fun way to develop fine and gross motor muscles, build math and literacy skills, encourage reading comprehension, and promote scientific thinking.

–     I cannot even begin to tell you how much we love the holidays in our house.  Generation after generation we celebrate so much, our beliefs, family and the love of giving and having the opportunity to give.  I wish you all happy holidays and hope this guide helps to take a bit of stress away.

–  J

What About Daddy? Birthday Part 3

I am linking up today with Jen from Ramblings of a Suburban Mom to give you my thoughts this wonderful Thursday.  Specifically, I have shared with you all of my birthday plans for the three family members having birthdays this week and next.  Birthdays are so important in a household with seven kids because it is a day to celebrate the individual and make them feel uniquely special.  So far I have shared Baileigh’s 4th Tea Party, A’s 2nd Car Themed party but the irony is that the very first birthday of the three was actually my husbands and as usual we put the kids first.

I asked my husband what he would like for his birthday and he looked me in the eye and said I am fine with nothing.  As parents I think most of us put our kids needs first and he knows this is a tight time for our family in terms of money.  I pressed further and said if you could have anything within reason what would you ask for?  His response was two-fold.

The first of three subscription services my husband chose for his birthday.

First he said he wanted to go to a concert.  There is a band that he loved so much in high school that he has a tattoo of it’s logo on his shoulder.  It is not a band I would ever listen to, but the man goes to the Opera with me without complaint.  Needless to say my mother and I bought the tickets.  Next he said he was feeling a little left out in terms of my subscription reviews.  He said my site so far was too geared toward women and children.  In reality he was correct.  He asked about “men” subscriptions.  I proceeded to take him to Jen’s site and go through all the subscriptions I could find for men.  At the end of our search we purchased three new services with coupons and I couldn’t be happier.  He chose Five Four (clothing), Mantry (kitchen) and Jacked Pack (nutrition/workout supplements).  I cannot wait to review these boxes with him and I love how excited he is about getting his very own.

My husband really is my world.  He is thoughtful, kind, loving and always there.  He deserves to be celebrated and I hope between the concert, dinner and his new subscriptions that he receives the TLC that is often solely reserved for our kids.
Jacked Pack

Feeling so grateful on this Thoughtful Thursday.


Birthday Season Part One: Baileigh’s Tea Party on a Budget

–Linking up with another Jen, the author of Ramblings of Suburban Mom today. Her blog is wonderful and I love keeping up with this mother of 2 that loves subscriptions as much as I do.

—My Thursday is focused on celebrations and probably will be for the next several weeks.  With a large family there are inevitably a lot of birthday celebrations.  From the months of May through February our family has at least one birthday each month. I believe that birthdays are a way to celebrate my family members as individuals; they get some much needed special attention.  With seven kids individual attention can be difficult so I always attempt to make their birthday celebrations unforgettable.  In September and October I have three birthdays within two weeks of each other-my husband R, Baileigh(4) and my youngest Angel (2).  I am going to share my themes with you in a three part series and show you what I do to make them cost effective and very  personalized.

–I have to start planning Birthdays about a month before the event and I have to budget for them year round.  Baileigh was tough.  First she was in love with Sophia the First, then it was Dora the Explorer and now we have about 20 tea parties a day with real China to boot.  She walks around the house saying cheers and I am full.  It is actually quite cute.  So with that in mind, this year we are throwing a tea party.  I was ecstatic to find so many gorgeous images and ideas throughout the internet.  Here is the plan, at least my tentative plan.  On the big day I will write another blog and share pictures and information.

Baileigh is going to feel like a birthday/tea party princess. Thank you Grandma Carol for gifting the most awesome outfit from Bethanie’s Boutique (etsy).
For some great tea party recipes check out Southern Livings top 13.
Tea Party Cake
Birthday cakes really matter to small kids. I will probably not go with a professional this year but rather go to my local market and pick up a cute cake. I can add a kids teapot to the top and it will make a nice gift.
Place settings can set the stage. I plan to get a doilie like table cloth and make the presentation beautiful. Flowers, finger sandwiches and of course tea and other drinks.
I am going to combine the flowers with the sandwiches on a cupcake stand. I will make some traditional sandwiches but I am also going to make kid favorites such as PBJ and mini pizzas.

Needless to say I have a lot more planning to do for this one birthday party.  My husband’s birthday is three days before Baileigh’s so I will be writing shortly on my plans for him.  I can’t wait to get photos and share her special day with all of you.

Yours on this Thursday,  -J