Chocolate Candy Cane Cake Pops With PEEPS {Recipe}

I was so excited when Peeps reached out to me to participate in their online advent calendar and asked me to create a recipe using PEEPS from their holiday line. I love that PEEPS have expanded past their status as an Easter treat and was excited to bake with them. PEEPS sent me their Candy Cane flavored PEEPS that were dipped in chocolate. I decided to make cake pops with them and love how they turned out!

Here’s the recipe to make these Chocolate Candy Cane flavored cake pops!

Yield: 30 Cake Pops

Materials needed:

  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix and any ingredients required (water, eggs, oil, etc)
  • 2 bags of candy melts
  • 6 PEEPS
  • container of chocolate frosting
  • lollipop sticks
  • candy canes or sprinkles (optional)
  • Piece of styrofoam

Directions:

  • Prepare cake mix according to box directions and let cool
  • Once cool use your hands to crumble cake into bowl
  • Cut 6 PEEPS into small pieces
  • Add PEEPS pieces and container of frosting to crumbled cake and stir together
  • Roll dough into 1 inch balls
  • Melt about 15 candy melts and dip one end of lollipop sticks in frosting and then push into cake balls
  • Place balls in freezer for 30 minutes to one hour to harden
  • Melt ½ of the candy melts in a bowl and dip cake pops using the stick as a handle.
  • When done with each cake pop stick the opposite end of the stick in the Styrofoam so that candy melt coating can harden. At this point add sprinkles or crushed candy cane if desired.
  • Melt more candy melts as needed.

If you enjoyed this recipe make sure to follow along in December when PEEPS features 24 recipes (including mine) on their Facebook page. To find more PEEPS recipes, crafts and other fun holiday ideas visit www.Facebook.com/PeepsBrand/adventcalendar.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I recieved PEEPS to use in my recipe.)

Truth In The Tinsel: Advent Ebook For Little Kids

(Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.)

Spend December impressing God’s Word on your kids’ heart! You’ll get 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points and extension activities. Plus fun printables and templates!

This is the perfect book for kids of any age–from preschool to elementary!

I loved this ebook and enjoyed spending time making Advent crafts with my children a couple years ago. I’m excited to go through this ebook again with them this year.

Learn more about the ebook and purchase it here: Truth in the Tinsel (Use code MAKINGTIME for 20% off the ebook!)

Give With Purpose This Holiday Season {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet and earring set but all thoughts are my own.)

There is nothing better than a gift that gives back. I’m happy to be working with World Vision again this year to help promote their Gift Catalog. The World Vision Gift Catalog offers more than 250 items that help fight poverty and save lives here in US and around the world. With a financial contribution, donors can select one of the 30+ Handcrafted Gifts that can be shared with a loved one and at the same time help a person in need.

I received a Colors of Africa Bracelet & Earring Set to review. This gorgeous Zakale bracelet and earring set from Nairobi are made from recycled materials by Kenyan artisans. The people received a loan from World Vision to grow their business and lift themselves out of poverty. With a $100 donation people can get this set for free.

This colorful set would make the perfect gift for any woman or girl. I love how the beads really capture the light. Knowing the story behind the bracelet makes me even prouder to wear it.

Want to donate without receiving a gift? The Gift Catalog lets you choose how your donation is sent. Love playing soccer or have kids who do? Donate soccer balls to kids who would normally play with “soccer balls” made of banana leaves or rolled-up trash. Passionate about education? Give kids books and tools they need to be successful in school and help them fulfill their potential and even lift themselves out of poverty. Or maybe you just simply want to give a child food, water, or clothing to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

Want to go beyond yourself? I love these ideas that World Vision shared:

  • Organize a family giving night and have kids select charitable gifts from an organization such as the World Vision Gift Catalog. Talk with your children about how giving back changes lives of children and families living in poverty and that their efforts truly make a difference.
  • Host a house party for friends and family and ask your guests to contribute to a share of a group gift such as a farm animal, winter clothing or school supplies to families in need, or even a water well. Make the selection of the item, how to raise funds for that gift, and the collection of the money a collaborative, group effort.
  • After Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping, consider celebrating Giving Tuesday (12/3) and make meaningful, life-changing gift purchases such as medicine, mosquito nets or a fish pond.
  • Be active in your giving — volunteer at your local homeless shelter or senior living center; cook a meal or bake cookies for an elderly family member or neighbor.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a bracelet and earring set like the one mentioned above

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

 1) Leave a comment telling me what gift you’d give a child in need

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Comment on another one of my blog posts

Giveaway ends November 24, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must a a US resident and 18 or older to enter.

Tiny Prints Holiday Cards {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I’m receiving free Christmas cards from Tiny Prints but all thoughts are my own.)

I love Christmas. I have been known to decorate on November 1st because I love the holiday so much. Holiday cards though? I never get them out on time! It’s such a long process and I always need to make sure I find the perfect card. This year I decided to start early in hopes that my Christmas cards would actually go out before the holiday :)

I checked out the Tiny Prints website to see this year’s Christmas Cards collection and here were some of my favorites:

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There were so many other cards that I loved. This is going to be a hard decision! I love the Christmas ones that share the good news of Christ being born but these “year in review” cards are calling me so hoping I can incorporate both into one card somehow.

Tiny Prints is offering new trim options this year- Square, rounded, bracket, ticket & scallop trim options. They also have new design styles for 2013 – Contemporary, Classic, Vintage, Full bleed photos, All That Glitters, Bold Expressions, Simply Chic, Woodland Wonder & The New Tradition. I like that they have all these options so you can really customize your card. Another thing you can do to make your cards stand out is to add matching address labels and envelope liners.

Tiny Prints also has great photo gifts! Want to make your own Christmas, holiday, or New Years cards? Enter to win below!

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win $50 off total order (plus free shipping) code at Tiny Prints

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment telling me your favorite design

OPTIONAL EXTRA ENTRIES:

1) Pin your favorite card with the #TinyPrintsCheer hashtag

2) Share this giveaway on another social network

Giveaway ends October 25, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be a US resident, age 18 or older to win.

2013 Toys“R”Us Holiday Hot Toy List

As much as I want to deny it, Christmas will be here soon. For those of you who like to shop early I have the 2013 Toys”R”Us Holiday Hot Toy List. I’m excited to be working with Toys”R”Us this Holiday season and will be reviewing some of these hot toys! Here is the list representing the top new toys of the year in each age group:

THE 2013 #TRUHotToyList

Baby’s First Christmas
Grow with Me Activity Gym & Ball Pit
 
from Infantino®
Little ones will “have a ball” with this action-packed, grow-with-me activity gym, which has pop-up mesh sides so it can convert into a ball pit. Featuring an adorable sea turtle shape, the set is complete with 4 plush toys children will fall in love with, as well as 4 colorful balls. No batteries required. Ages 0 years and up.

13 Months to 2 Years
Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car
 
from Fisher-Price®
Baby can take the driver’s seat with this fun-filled learning vehicle and let the adventures begin. With different play modes, little ones can get a head start on learning everything from their ABC’s to colors. This cruising machine can also help tiny tots develop gross motor skills as it encourages crawling. 3 “AA” batteries required (not included). Ages 6 months to 3 years.

Rollin’ Tunes Zebra from Fisher-Price®
The more baby rolls, the more fun they’ll have with this interactive Zebra, which is sure to become any baby’s best pal. The music grows louder as little ones keep rollin’ along and fun phrases keep the ride exciting. 3 “AA” batteries required (not included). Ages 12 months to 3 years.

2 to 4 Years
Big Hugs Elmo
 
from Hasbro®
Little ones are sure to fall in love with the first feature Elmo toy that can hug them back. When kids give their red, furry friend a hug, the interactive plush moves his arms to return the love. This cuddly, 22-inch lifelike Elmo has flexible arms and a soft head, plays 3 fun songs, features more than 50 animated sounds and phrases, and encourages pretend play. When little ones are ready for naptime, Elmo will even sing a lullaby and make sleeping sound effects to help soothe them to sleep. 4 “AA” batteries required (not included). Ages 18 months to 4 years.

Despicable Me 2 Minion Dave, Agnes and Gru Collector’s Edition Figures from Thinkway Toys
The quirky and lovable characters of Despicable Me 2 are here to make the holidays bright. These highly detailed Minion Dave (9-inch), Agnes (11-inch) and Gru (14-inch) interactive figures (sold separately) feature moving heads, eyes and mouths. Sure to ignite bouts of laughter, each character recites at least 30 phrases from the comical movie in their original voices and each responds to sound for back-and-forth conversation. 3 “AAA” batteries required for Agnes (not included). 4 “AA” batteries required for Minion Dave (not included). 3 “AA” batteries required for Gru (not included). Ages 4 to 12 years.

Disney Planes Wing Control Dusty Crophopper Remote Control Plane from Mattel®
It’s time to tilt and fly. Kids can have high-flying fun recreating the action seen in the Disney movie Planes, with this RC vehicle that offers role-play remote control, making the plane move as they do. This plane is fully equipped with sounds and phrases that amp up the action for a thrilling air venture. 2 “AAA” and 4”AA” batteries required (not included). Ages 3 years and up.

Doc McStuffins Deluxe Get Better Check-Up Center from Just Play
Kids will have all the tools they need with this set to enjoy imaginative play as they heal toys and give checkups just like Doc McStuffins. When the included Lambie is placed on the check-up table, tiny caretakers will delight in lights and sounds. Plus, future physicians will enjoy using the electronic Big Book of Boo Boos to make a diagnosis, slide in play x-rays to activate lights and sounds, use the cell phone for “chats” with Hallie and more. Kids can also use the portable scale to check their patient’s weight and take the ouches away with bandage stickers from the dispenser on the clinic door. This exclusive set includes 14 bonus pieces, including Doc’s child-size lab coat and new First Aid Kit with fun accessories, perfect for on-the-go checkups. 3 “AA” batteries required for Check-Up Center. 2 “AA” batteries required for play cell phone (not included). Ages 3 years and up (not included). This item will become available in October.

Imaginarium Mountain Rock Train Table from Toys“R”Us®
This wooden train table set delivers big play value for little ones with over 100 pieces and 23 feet of track, plus, lights and sounds bring playtime to life. Mini conductors can take the 8 included trains on a journey through 5 play destinations. From the two-tower bridge and two-level mountain pass, to the working swivel crane, train station and 4-door roundhouse turntable, kids will enjoy hours of train play. Plus, this ultimate set is compatible with other select wooden train sets and features a large storage drawer, so kids’ collections can continue to grow. 2 “AAA” batteries required (not included). Ages 3 years and up.

Imaginext® Batcave from Fisher-Price®
Kids will love helping Batman and his sidekick Robin with this secret command center equipped with superhero gadgetry, including a Batcomputer, secret walkways, a Batwing, elevator, jail and more. Turn the included Batman and Robin figures on any of the 3 activation disks to make cool things happen throughout. Plus, young superheroes can use the included launcher to blast projectiles at approaching intruders. And, when Batman needs to race into Gotham City, kids can place him on his Batcycle and send him off. To bring the fun of this Batcave to life, a complimentary, downloadable iPhone® Imaginext Batcave app is available. No batteries required. Ages 3 years and up.

My Little Pony Feature Princess Twilight Sparkle Pony from Hasbro®
Now, the magic of Equestria is in kids’ hands with this interactive pony. With one touch of her cutie mark, she will move her head and blink her eyes as she awakens. Brush her mane and Twilight Sparkle will hum songs and speak whimsical phrases as she’s being pampered. Plus, her iridescent turquoise wings and unicorn horn illuminate with a touch, creating enchanting patterns of light, and kids can push her along and watch as her wings flutter. 4 “AA” batteries required (not included). Ages 3 years and up.

Sofia the First Royal Talking Vanity from JAKKS Pacific®
Princesses in training can get ready for a royal dance with this gorgeous vanity inspired by Sofia the First. Standing over 3 feet tall, this vanity features 6 princess lessons from Sofia and lots of hidden surprises including a jewelry box that appears with a push of a magical button, hidden animal friends and a storage drawer to store trinkets. The vanity features 8 beauty accessories to complete the play including two perfume bottles, a comb, lipstick, necklace and a mini tiara. The set also comes with a complimentary magical lesson card to use with the Talking Magical Amulet, (sold separately). 3 “AA” batteries required. Ages 3 years and up. This item will become available in October.

You & Me Tub & Toot Doll from Toys“R”Us®
Little ones will love to splish splash in the bath with this Toys“R”Us-exclusive doll. Simply by lifting the interactive doll’s left hand while bathing, kids will be in for a fun surprise, as she giggles and babbles away. 3 “AA” batteries required (included). Ages 2 years and up.

5 to 7 Years
Battroborg 3-in-1 Battle Arena
 
from TOMY®
Let the battle begin! This one-of-a-kind set offers kids action-packed play using motion-controlled battling robots. The newest innovation in robot gaming technology, this set features Nunchaku motion controllers, allowing players to control the action in the ring by maneuvering robots to match their own motions. With 3 competitive game modes, competitors will enjoy head-to-head Battroborg battle, can practice their moves with training drones or master the art of combat against a self-propelled Battroborg robot. Includes 2 robots, 2 Nunchaku motion controllers, arena, 4 training drones, 2 sticker sheets and 2 face sheets. 8 “AA” batteries required (not included). Ages 6 years and up.

Boom Boom Balloon Game from Spin Master
Pressure mounts with each roll of the dice as players take their turn to poke the balloon. With every roll, the balloon stretches, squishes and strains, wondering if the next poke will make it pop. There are 12 silly-faced balloons inside the box and players can contact Spin Master to order additional balloons. No Batteries Required. Ages 8 years and up.

Disney Infinity from Disney Interactive
The worlds of Disney and Pixar collide for the first time ever with this all-new gaming platform. Integrating collectible figures featuring beloved characters from movies like Monsters, Inc.Pirates of the Caribbean and The Incredibleswith an immersive video game experience, players can bring their favorite characters to life in the virtual world by placing the figures on a Disney Infinity base, which transports them into the game. Players have two gaming options to choose from, including “Toy Box,” a mode where players can build and customize their own unique environments, and a story-driven experience, “Play Set,” which allows players to solve challenging puzzles, battle enemies and explore iconic Disney locations. The game launched with an initial line of 18 collectible interactive figures and 21 Power Discs that unlock special in-game powers, gadgets, vehicles and more. No batteries required. Ages 6 years and up (figures). Ages 10 years and up (game).

Flutterbye Flying Fairy from Spin Master
Children can experience the magic of real fairy flight with these enchanting Flutterbye Fairies. After magically rising and gracefully flying across the sky, guided simply by kids’ hands, she will rest on her display stand. 6 “AA” batteries required. Ages 5 years and up.

FurReal Friends® Cuddles My Giggly Monkey Pet from Hasbro®
Youngsters will go bananas over this interactive, giggly monkey. With over 100 realistic sounds and phrases, from laugh-out-loud silly to super sweet, responds to many classic play patterns like feeding, diaper changing, cuddling, tickling, swinging, and being rocked to sleep. She’ll move her mouth when children feed her from a banana-shaped bottle, and is ready for playtime, saying “whee,” when swung upside down. After a long day of play, this lovable pet will slowly close her eyes and start to snooze when rocked to sleep. Comes with a bottle, pink bow and removable diaper. 4 “C” batteries required (not included). Ages 4 years and up.

InnoTab® 3S Exclusive Bundle from VTech®
Kids can learn, create and connect with the latest generation of the popular InnoTab learning tablet. Complete with Wi-Fi, this tablet opens up a world of interactive game play and educational fun. Included games teach reading, math, social studies, science and much more. Plus, children can play videos and music, take pictures and share their creations and messages by connecting to other InnoTab 3S tablets and smart phones through VTech Kid Connect. Equipped with a kid-safe browser, children can view pre-approved websites and connect to the Learning Lodge for hundreds of software cartridges and downloads for more learning fun. Also includes a rechargeable battery pack and AC adapter, plus a bonus folio case and headphones. Ages 3 to 9 years.

LeapPad Ultra from LeapFrog®
Built especially for little learners, this kid-tough tablet features a 7-inch hi-res touch screen, Wi-Fi with LeapSearch, LeapFrog’s kid-safe browser created with Zui and access to a library of more than 800 fun and educator-approved apps, games, eBooks, videos, music and more. The tablet includes 11 apps, 8GB of storage and a built-in rechargeable battery so the learning fun never ends. Front and back cameras and video recorders allow kids to take pictures and video, while the Photo Fun Ultra app provides cool picture effects. No batteries required. Ages 4 to 9 years.

Magic Jinn from Hasbro®
Children of all ages will love outsmarting this magical mind reader. All it takes is a touch of Jinn’s nose to begin, and through a series of questions, the intuitive creature will try to guess which animal kids have on their mind as they answer with “Yes,” “No,” “I don’t know” or “Maybe.” No one can tell what he’ll say next! 3 “AAA” batteries required (not included). Ages 6 years and up.

Skylanders SWAP Force from Activision Publishing, Inc
Skylanders is “mixing it up” with the newest game in the award-winning, top-selling franchise. This one-of-a-kind game builds upon the success of the franchise’s signature gameplay and collectible toy experience, adding an all-new dimension to the “toys to life” innovation. The game introduces a compelling play pattern – dynamic swapability – that lets gamers transform 16 SWAP Force inter-action figures into more than 250 unique characters by swapping the top and bottom halves of the toys. Fans also can play with their entire collection of more than 100 characters fromSkylanders Spyro’s Adventure® and Skylanders GiantsTM. No batteries required. Ages 10 years and up. This item will become available on October 13 on Nintendo Wii™, Wii U™, 3DS™,  Xbox 360™ and Xbox One™ video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system.

tabeo e2 from Toys“R”Us®
The next generation of tabeo, this all-new Android™ Jelly Bean 4.2 Wi-Fi tablet was created especially for kids. This unique 8-inch tablet is bigger, better and faster, featuring lightning fast performance to handle even the most action-packed games, sharper graphics, advanced parental controls, expanded storage and so much more. This tablet comes complete with high-impact screen protection, dual-facing cameras, an tabeo App Store packed with thousands of free, kid-friendly applications, plus dozens of preloaded premium apps. With included fan-favorite kids’ apps like Need for Speed™ Most WantedBejeweled® 2The Game of LifeTemple Run 2Fruit NinjaCrayola DigiTools Effects,Cartoon NetworkWWE and Playrific, children will enjoy hours of entertainment, fun and education. Available in a blue, pink or clear protective case, the Bluetooth™ enabled device also features an extensive ecosystem of products, including speakers, docking stations and licensed accessories. No batteries required. Ages 6 to 11 years. Available for pre-order now at tabeo.com.

The Ugglys from Moose Toys
Introducing the ugliest dogs around. These farting, burping, barking and growling interactive electronic pets are ready to start trouble with kids of all ages. In addition to making over 30 rude, repulsive and hilarious noises, each mischievous mutt with an attitude can be “tuned” to further amuse kids big and small. Using a button on each pup’s collar, kids can warp the sounds of their mischievous friends to disgust or delight. And, when the Ugglys are left alone, they’ll snore away until it’s time to play. 3 “AAA” batteries required (not included). Ages 5 years and up.

The Zelfs™ from Moose Toys
Collectors – big and small – will love this group of whimsical and quirky dolls. Each Zelf has its own unique persona and Zelf power represented by a Zelmark. The dolls also have matching charms and hair accessories that kids can use to style and tame their Zelfs’ colorful and spike-tacular hair. Imaginations will go wild, during endless hours of hair-raising play with these super cute characters available in 3 collectible sizes. No batteries required. Ages 5 years and up.

8 to 11 Years
Crayola® Melt N’ Mold Factory
 
from Crayola®
Look forward to creating unique, multicolored crayons and rings with this one-of-a-kind craft kit. Add a custom combination of colorful crayon bits to the melting tray, then turn it on and watch crayons melt together. With an included crayon and ring mold, pint-sized Picassos can pour the melted wax to transform crayons into custom multicolor creations – no two crayons or rings are the same. Includes melting tray, 24 crayons, 2 molds and 1 mold holder. No batteries required. Ages 8 years and up.

Ever After High Royal & Rebel Dolls from Mattel®
Ever After High introduces the children of famous fairytale characters. These 4 spellbinding teenage dolls will choose to either follow their parents’ footsteps or discover their own happily ever after. With Apple White, Raven Queen, Briar Beauty and Madeline Hatter (each sold separately), kids will love discovering the untold stories of the “Royals” and “Rebels.” No batteries required. Ages 6 years and up. These items will become available in November.

Kurio® 10s from Techno Source
Following up the best-selling, award-winning Kurio 7, this all-new, Android™ 4.2 (Jellybean) Wi-Fi enabled device truly takes family tablets to the next level with a new design, faster Quad Core processor and a larger, high definition 10.1” IPS touch screen. Great for games, movies and family fun, this exclusive tablet combines the advanced features kids expect from a cutting-edge tablet with Kurio’s unique, built-in parental control features that allow parents to set up customized profiles perfectly suited for each member of the family. Parents can adjust Internet access to ensure kids surf the web safely, manage applications by profile and even set detailed time limits by day of the week. Kurio 10s comes preloaded with more than 60 educational games and apps out of the box, and families can access hundreds of thousands more free apps through the Kurio Store and the most popular Android app stores. Available in black with an included blue protective bumper. Micro USB power adapter included. Ages 3 years and up.

LEGO Legends of Chima The Lion CHI Temple from LEGO®
LEGO lovers can engage in an epic battle for the CHI at the majestic temple with this 1,258 piece set. Kids can create different tribes with the 7 included figures and their weapons, as they fight to reach the CHI orb, or embrace the challenge to restore peace to Chima in a battle at The Lion CHI Temple. No batteries required. Ages 8 years and up.

MEGA® Bloks Call of Duty® Heavy Armor Outpost from MEGA® Brands
Kids will love recreating scenes from the wildly popular video game series with this 685-piece set. The main battle tank measures 12” (L) x 5” (W) x 4” (H) and comes with a large, rotating turret and tracks that really spin. This direct-fire, heavy-armored vehicle is nearly unstoppable during play combat. The buildable, improvised outpost and the camouflage mesh canopy can attach to the heavy tank to offer troops protection from hostile targets or weather conditions. The included Captain John Price and his team of 2 special ops troopers are highly detailed with extreme pose ability, and come with authentic interchangeable accessories and weapons that allow for mission-specific customization. No batteries required. Ages 14 years and up.

Monster 500 Toxic Terror Trap Playset from Toys“R”Us®
Unleash the fiendish fury! Kids and kids at heart will enjoy the twisting, toxic, monster action this ghoulish, exclusive playset has to offer. With one included character, Evil Clownevil, daredevils can smash through the doors of the freaky factory and topple the toxic, terrorizing monster, while avoiding being gobbled by the mutant gator all at the same time. Then, cars can be placed on the elevator before the hazmat mutant brings each vehicle up again. For additional fun, playset includes one Monster 500 trading card, which can be used to unlock a creepy character in the Monster 500 app available on Android and iOS. 3 “AA” batteries required (not included). Ages 4 years and up. This item will become available in October.

Playstation®4 (PS4) from Sony®
This next generation computer entertainment system combines rich content, fan-favorite apps and immersive gameplay with powerful graphics, speed, intelligent personalization, social capabilities and innovative second-screen features. PS4 places the focus on gamers, enabling them to play when, where and how they want. The bundle includes the console, DUALSHOCK®4 wireless controller, HDMI cable, power cable, wired mono headset and USB charging cable. No batteries required. Ages 6 years and up. This item will become available on November 15.

Shimmer N’ Sparkle Cra-Z-Loom Bracelet Maker from Cra-Z-Art®
The hottest craze to hit kids’ wrists this year, Cra-Z-Loom is the ultimate rubber band accessory maker with over 600 included mixed-color rubber bands. Children of all ages will enjoy designing colorful rubber band bracelets, rings, belts, pendants and more, including single, double or triple loop rubber band combinations. Ultimate fashionistas can use their imaginations and enjoy hours of totally trendy bracelet and accessory making fun. No batteries required. Ages 6 years and up.

Xbox™ One from Microsoft®
Introducing the all-in-one entertainment system. Where the best games and your favorite movies, music, sports and live TV come together in one place. Xbox One games look and feel incredibly real, with cinematic gameplay that rivals Hollywood. Watch TV or chat with friends on Skype while you play. With Xbox One, you can snap two things side-by-side on your TV, and switch from one to another instantly. Users can also watch movies and play games in HD with a Blu-ray playerAnd, with Xbox Live Gold membership (sold separately) users can access online multiplayer, Skype and additional features for the family. The starter kit includes console, Kinectsensor, wireless controller, HDMI cable and chat headset. Advanced TV hardware required. Games, add-ons and media content sold separately. No batteries required (console). 2 “AA” batteries required (wireless controller) (included). Ages 6 years and up. This item will become available November 22.

Y Fliker™ Carver Scooter from Yvolution
Kids are in for a smooth ride with this all-new, three-wheeled, all body-powered scooter featuring FLEX technology. Using the same motions as downhill skiing, riders only need to move their hips and legs from side to side to get going and keep moving. Thanks to the patented FLEX technology, kids can perform cool carving actions and master even the tightest turns. To put mom’s mind at ease, padded handgrips and a quick-response hand brake ensure every ride is a safe ride. No Batteries Required. Ages 5 years and up (C1 Model). Ages 7 years and up (C3 Model).

Zoomer from Spin Master
The perfect, playful family pet, this robotic dog will quickly steal kids’ hearts. Just like a real dog, children will be responsible for teaching him everything a puppy needs to know – and sometimes forgets. With life-like expressions and voice activated commands, this dog can learn dozens of tricks including laying, rolling, sitting and more. He even follows kids’ movements with his cute puppy eyes. Families can download the free iOS or Android app to learn everything there is to know about training this silly, interactive dog. No batteries required. Ages 5 years and up.

Big Kids
Crazy Cart
 
from Razor
Kids will love this ultimate drifting machine, which will allow them to drive, spin or drift like a pro. With the unique ability to drive forward, reverse, sideways, diagonally and spin in place, riders can cruise around like a go cart or lift the Drift Bar to kick it into Crazy Cart mode. Crazy drifts. Crazy spins. Crazy FUN! 2 “12V” battery system (included). Ages 9 years and up (up to 140 pounds).

**For those of you with children who have Special Needs make sure to check out the Toys”R”Us toy guide for differently-abled kids. You can find that here. Big thanks to Toys”R”Us for creating the awesome guide!**

Cousins {Wordless Wednesday}

After a whole bunch of pictures this was the best shot we got of these 5, 4, and 3 year olds. Aren’t they all adorable in their little outfits? :)

Christmas 2012 {Wordless Wednesday}

Christmas Eve: Leaving cookies for Santa

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Lucas taking over the gingerbread house decorating

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Boys in front of the tree Christmas morning

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas with your loved ones! I know it’s early but I will be unplugging for a few days and spending time with my family.

Eggnog Martini Recipe

So Christmas is almost here and I’m sure you are super busy with all the prep. I say once the kids are in bed tonight, you make yourself this yummy eggnog martini and relax on the couch! You deserve it!

To prepare:

1) Combine equal parts of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico and prepared eggnog in a martini shaker with ice and shake well.

2) Strain beverage into a chilled martini glass with a graham cracker crust rim, sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

3) Enjoy! :)

The above recipe and image is from Rock’n Fish. They have 3 locations in California: Manhattan Beach, Laguna Beach, & L.A.

Personalized Gifts From Personal Creations

There’s nothing more special than a personalized gift that I know was created just for me. Personal Creations has hundreds of gifts for everyone and I loved exploring their website for some gifts for my family members. Here are some great gift ideas from their online store:

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I got a bookshelf for Lucas with his name embroidered on it. It was easy to assemble and made from brightly colored, sturdy canvas so I think it will last until he outgrows it. I like that it has his name on it but i wish that the name was up a little higher because the lower half is hard to see.

Still need some Christmas items? Personal Creations has those too! You can get personalized stockings, matching pajamas, and personalized ornaments.

(Disclosure: I received a gift card but all thoughts are my own.)

Happy’s Christmas Gift {Bilingual Children’s Book Review & Giveaway}

 

“Happy’s Christmas Gift” is a beautifully written and illustrated storybook of an adorable and brave little Yorkie who, having gone out to post a letter to Santa, suddenly finds himself on an unexpected journey to magical lands where dreams really do come true.

Can Happy save the day? Will he get home in time for Christmas? Well you have to read the book to find out!

Available in Hardcover English or in the Soft Cover bilingual version of English/Spanish. This bilingual version appears to be unique as the two languages are next to each other and highlighted words help the reader to learn words of the second language. The book is landscape 8″x 10″ and 40 pages of good life lessons, goodwill, hope and fun. Just what is needed at Christmas time.

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I love that the softcover version has both English and Spanish stories because I think it’s great for bilingual families. Sinisa is bilingual and I wish we had something like this for our children so they could have some stories in both English and Croatian. I like that some words are bold in both English and Spanish so that children can learn new vocabulary words. The story is kind of long for my 3 and 4 year old since their attention spans are pretty short but if your child will sit for a longer story I think they will love this book and be so into the adventure that it won’t seem so long.

Illustration-wise I think this book was done nicely. The pictures are cute and very detailed, down to the little girls freckles. The characters are easy to love, especially the little puppy, Happy, who is based on a real Yorkie.

This softcover bilingual book also comes with a free poster which is a nice bonus. The book is one in a series. The next book is ‘Happy As A Fox’. The books can be found here.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a copy of the softcover bilingual book, Happy’s Christmas Gift

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this book for

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right hand corner)

Giveaway ends December 30, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review but all thoughts are my own.)

 

Hershey’s Holiday Candy {Prize Pack Giveaway}

Every Christmas morning when I was a child we’d go downstairs and the first thing we’d do was open our stockings to see what kind of chocolates Santa had left. I was always hoping that my stocking would be filled with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because they are my favorite candy. I also found a lot of Hershey’s Kisses candies in my stocking. I enjoyed eating many of my chocolates while I waited for my dad to cook breakfast.

This year Hershey’s has a new product that I’m hoping “Santa” will put in my stocking. It’s called the Snap-Apart Snowman and it breaks apart into four neat pieces so it’s easy to eat {and share if you want}.

I also love the big Hershey’s kiss that looks like a Santa hat. Those big ones are always fun to put in my love’s stocking :)

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a Hershey’s Holiday candy prize pack similar to mine

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me which Hershey’s candy is your favorite

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like Hershey’s on Facebook

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right hand corner)

Giveaway ends December 28, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I received the Hershey’s products pictured above but all thoughts are my own.)

Stocking Stuffer & Gift Ideas For Boys From Hasbro

You probably know Hasbro makes great games but did you also know that they make some amazing toys, too? Jacob is all about super heroes lately and a lot of the toys on his Christmas list were made by Hasbro and I didn’t even know it! Check out these stocking stuffer and gift ideas from Hasbro!

Stocking Stuffers
  • MARVEL THE AVENGERS 3.75″ HEROES ASSORTMENT: The Ultimate Super Hero action collection features IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, HULK, BLACK WIDOW and HAWKEYE.  Kids and collectors will want to assemble the whole team from Hasbro’s line of THE AVENGERS 3.75″ Action Figures.
  • ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS Mystery Bags: For the ultimate Holiday surprise, pick up ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS Mystery Bags, which offer two figures from the collection in each bag.

For the Movie Buff
  • THE AVENGERS HERO MASKS: Every Super Hero needs an awesome mask! Now kids (and parents!) can pretend to be Earth’s Mightiest Heroes with these masks based on the blockbuster hit, The Avengers.  Choose from IRON MAN, HULK, THOR AND CAPTAIN AMERICA!
  • THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN HERO FX GLOVE: Kids will feel like SPIDER-MAN when they put on this fun electronic role-play glove.  Sensors in the “web shooting compartment” will sense motion and respond with web shooting sound effects.

Kid at Heart
  • TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS ACTION FIGURES:  The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS DELUXE Assortment features Transformers characters and designs from throughout the history of the TRANSFORMERS brand.  The assortment includes OPTIMUS PRIME, JAZZ and SHOCKWAVE.
  • TRANSFORMERS KRE-O allows builders to construct both the robot and vehicle mode of their favorite Transformers characters with the same set of bricks!

You can find more gift ideas from Hasbro in their Gift Guide here.

(Disclosure: Hasbro sent me gifts for my boys from the Gift Guide but thoughts are my own.)

The Original Christmas Classics Blu-ray Box Set {Giveaway}

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa! I love snuggling up on the couch under blankets with the boys and watching some of our favorite holiday movies so I’m really excited to share this great giveaway with you all!

The Original Christmas Classics collection features four TV specials:  the Rankin/Bass classics “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Frosty Returns.”

The Original Christmas Classics collection will be available wherever Blu-rays are sold. The set retails for about $45. If you are an Amazon Prime member the set is currently being sold for $28.85 and with 2 day shipping you’ll get it before Christmas!

GIVEAWAY:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me which one of the specials is your favorite

2) Like The Original Christmas Classics on Facebook

3) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

4) Subscribe to this blog via email {look in upper right hand corner}

Giveaway ends December 27, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I received a copy of this gift set. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

Ability Path’s Holiday Gift Guide For Children With Special Needs

I’m excited to share the 2012 Holiday Gift Guide For Children With Special Needs put together by Ability Path. The guide features gift ideas from many bloggers, including a suggestion from me. If you have a child with Special Needs on your “to buy for” list you have to check this guide out.

You can find the Holiday Gift Guide here. Enjoy! :)

 

My Little Santa Claus {Wordless Wednesday}

I was going through pictures from past years and came upon this one from 2009. My youngest, Lucas, is Santa Claus and my brother’s youngest, Madelyn, is Frosty! Aren’t they adorable!?

Free Printable: 12 Days Of Christmas Countdown

Whether it’s random acts of kindness, or just showering the ones you love with their favorite things – the holidays are filled with opportunities for gift giving and showing people that you care.  Inspired by the 12 days of Christmas as a way to get creative with gift giving this year, Paper Coterie designed these exclusive Christmas tags you can download for free!

Having these on hand to wrap up your gifts will make it easy and fun to give to all those around you. Simply download and cut out these fun tags and start spreading the love! Find the printables here.

Christmas Shopping Online {And Safe Cyber Shopping Tips!}

I never used to like shopping online. I hated paying for shipping and waiting for my packages to be delivered. I liked touching what I was thinking about purchasing before I spent money and taking my finds home from the stores.

A couple months back I received some Amazon e-cards and I had been holding on to them for Holiday shopping. The week of Black Friday I put them into my Amazon account and took a look around the site. I discovered some great prices on things I had planned on buying for Christmas. I put a few items in my online shopping cart and then a little box about Amazon Prime came up. After reading about it I got excited because I could get shipping free and it would only take two days to arrive. I signed up for my free trial of Amazon Prime and was relieved that I had started my shopping early this year.

I have to say that I have fallen in love with Amazon Prime and won’t be cancelling it. I love that I don’t have to put a minimum amount in my cart so I’ve been watching for deals and crossing things off my list as I see them. And I haven’t just limited myself to Amazon. I’ve shopped Walmart Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and chosen site-to-store so all I have to do is run in and pick up my packages when they arrive. I also have shopped sales at Kohls, Old Navy, The Children’s Place, and Osh’Kosh Bgosh- all of which had amazing sales.

With all of the amazing sales online, some better than what I’ve seen in stores, I’ve been able to finish most of my Christmas shopping with only having to go into one store. Now that gifts for everyone else were handled it was time to shop for myself. I had been wanting a SLR camera since I was in high school and I told myself that I would finally get one this year. I decided I wanted a Canon Rebel T3i so I searched online because I wanted to find the best price I could. I typed in “Canon Rebel T3i prices” on Google to see if I could easily find a price comparison site. Towards the top was a link to cnet.com which is a reputable technology review site. Along with the review of the camera they gave a list of about 20 online sites that sold the camera and their prices.

Most of the prices were pretty similar with some sites being hundreds higher. The lowest one was about $530, $70 less than the average. I clicked through to the BPPhoto site without even thinking about it because the site I was on was well-known and I figured they wouldn’t be linking to a site that wasn’t trustworthy. While they didn’t have the camera that I wanted in stock, I looked around at what other items I did have since they had great prices on lenses and other camera accessories. I find that I am leery of sites that offer products for a reduced rate so I also checked for signs that the site was secure. I noticed that the site had a security validated button and a 30 day money back guarantee which is nice to have when making an online purchase and made me feel like this was an online retailer that I could trust.

In the end I ended up going with Amazon.com and buying a Rebel T3 {not T3i} because I found the best price on that site. 2-day shipping was free, I got 2% of my purchase back in Amazon credits, I got a free camera bag and memory card, and I got an extra lens for $150 off {which made it only $7}. I was so excited about the deal I found during the Cyber Monday sale and can’t wait to use my new camera to take pictures!

Are you shopping online this Christmas season? Here are some cyber shopping tips, courtesy of Trend Micro, to keep in mind:

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU CLICK:

1. Go with What You Know: Bookmark reliable online shopping sites, as search engines like Google can lead you to malicious sites.

2. Go with Your Instinct: Ignore suspicious emails and spam offering huge discounts and bargains as they may contain malicious links and file attachments.

3. If It’s too Good to be True It Usually is: Spam and online ads that offer mind-boggling promos and discounts can lead to web threats.

4. Double, Triple Confirm: Check a payment site’s URL. Phishers trick users into giving out personal information via spoofed pages. Two of the most commonly phished sites are eBay and PayPal.

5. Tried and True: Use reliable security software that helps you avoid visiting comprised sites.

6. Buyer Beware: Never use a payment method that does not offer any kind of buyer protection. Wire transfers and money orders are therefore off the table as there is no way of getting your money back. Pay with a credit card as it offers better protection.

7. Keep It Private: Don’t shop in a public “hot spot” or in places with unsecure networks. Limit online shopping to when you are at home, this assures uninterrupted and safe sessions.

8. Spot the Obvious: Legitimate banking or e-commerce sites’ URLs usually begin with https not http. The padlock icon at the lower right or near the address bar (depending on your browser) is also a good indicator of site’s security.

9. Keep Records: Always keep your transaction records to track your online purchases and avoid becoming a victim of online scams and other kinds of fraud.

10. Stay Aware: Stringently check your credit card billing statements to monitor all of your transactions. Immediately report any discrepancies to your bank.

 

(Disclosure: As a Trend Micro Digital Joneses family I received a gift card to shop online with but all thoughts are my own.)

Truth In The Tinsel: Advent Experience For Little Hands {New Ornaments!}

Spend December impressing God’s Word on your kids’ heart! You’ll get 24 days of Scripture reading, ornament crafts, talking points and extension activities. Plus fun printables and templates! You can read my review of last year’s Truth In The Tinsel ebook here.

This is the perfect book for kids of any age–from preschool to elementary!

Click here to order the ebook!


NEW for 2012! Get the printable Truth in the Tinsel ornaments! Use these on days you’re too busy to do a big craft, for toddlers, while you’re at Grandma’s or if you just want to save a little money on supplies!

Click here to order the ornaments!

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

 

Santa Visits For Children With Special Needs

Visiting Santa is a really fun Holiday tradition for most families. It’s one I loved as a child and was excited to continue with my own children. The first couple years went well but eventually, visiting Santa became a tradition that I dreaded. It has turned into an overwhelming experience for my boys and as a mom, when my children aren’t having a good time, I’m not enjoying the tradition either.

As a mother of two preschoolers with special needs I am honored that Ability Path contacted me to share about their “Caring Santa”. It brought tears to my eyes to realize that people cared enough about my children and other children with special needs that they’d work together to create this special experience for our children.

This year Caring Santa will be at over 80 locations across the United States. Here are more details from Ability Path: Due to this collaborative effort and greater mall participation this year, more children with special needs and their families will have an opportunity to participate in the time-honored holiday tradition of taking a photo with Santa in an environment set up to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs of children with all abilities. Each mall will be asked to make some minor modifications to subdue the mall the morning of Caring Santa, and the result of that will be a magical experience for families; and some will walking away with their first-ever holiday photo of their child or family with Santa.  Until now, visiting with Santa and the Bunny really wasn’t a reality for families of children with special needs.

Last year, families who have experienced Caring Santa expressed great appreciation to participating malls for the extra care and welcoming environment.  While the accommodations made are for the child with special needs, often there are siblings who, as a result of their brother or sister’s disability don’t have the opportunity to partake in moments like these. The Caring Santa event is as much for them as it is for the child with a disability.  It is truly a morning for making memories for children of all abilities!

You can look to see if there is a location near you and RSVP by clicking here.

A HUGE thanks to Ability Path, Simon Malls, and Noerr Programs for organizing these events.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post.)

 

Holiday Outfits From The Children’s Place {Giveaway!}

I love buying my boys matching outfits from The Children’s Place for seasonal and holiday pictures. About a week ago I placed my order online at The Children’s Place for their Holiday picture outfits, their Thanksgiving shirts, and their outfits for Christmas along with a couple other items that were on sale and at an even greater discount with a coupon I had received via email. A couple days after I placed my order someone from TCP contacted me about sharing their Holiday fashions for kids with my readers and I jumped at it because they have some adorable styles for holiday get-togethers and pictures. These are some of the fun looks you can put together with pieces from The Children’s Place:

Here’s what my boys will be wearing:

They have cute dresses for girls, too! I love this red one:

GIVEAWAY:

One lucky reader is going to win a $25 gift card to The Children’s Place!

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you’d shop for at The Children’s Place

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Like The Children’s Place on Facebook

4) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Follow me on Pinterest

Giveaway ends December 5, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but I have received a gift card from them in the past. All thoughts are my own. Please note: This gift card is not guaranteed to arrive in time for Christmas shopping.)

Operation Christmas Child: Collection Week Coming Up!

Operation Christmas Child

With National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child coming up in less than a couple week I wanted to share a video about how much these boxes touch the kids who receive them.

To learn more about Operation Christmas Child you can check out the Samaritan’s Purse website.

Jacob’s Christmas GIVING List

Jacob is a typical four year old. He sees a commercial. He wants the toy featured. He goes in the toy aisle at the store. He wants this toy and that toy and oh, this one, too.

He started his Christmas list months ago and it includes more toys than he will ever get. And it keeps on growing and growing {which is partially our fault because they’ve been very spoiled on past holidays}.

My goal this year is to get him to think about how he can give to others and focus on what others might need instead of just what he wants. We started by looking at the World Vision Gift Catalog which is full of gifts we can give to others to truly change their lives. Gifts like cows to feed families, chickens to produce eggs they can eat and sell, and water, something we take for granted everyday. As we looked through the catalog I read him what each thing was and explained why someone would need the gift. For example, there were soccer balls in the gift catalog and I explained that some kids kick around a ball of trash and leaves because they don’t have any balls to kick when they play soccer.

After we looked through the whole thing I asked him what item he would like to buy for someone else.

He took the catalog from me, opened it to the first page and said “2 chicks”.

What happened next surprised me and brought me to tears.

“and a cow. and 3 pigs….” and on he went until I had to grab a paper to remember all he was saying he wanted to give.

And so his Christmas Giving List was created.

When I told him that all of this was a lot of money he suggested we sell his “baby” toys to get the money for all of the things he wanted to give. How sweet is that?

How do you help your children think of ways they can bless others?

“How Many Kings” by DOWNHERE {Music}

After hearing this song for the first time this week I really wanted to share it with you all. I looked it up on YouTube and discovered it’s 4 years old. And a Christmas song. Oh well. It’s amazing! Let me know what you think :)

Christmas At Papa’s {Wordless Wednesday}

Maddie and Lucas

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Camden and Jacob

Giving To Others With Champions For Kids and Disney #DisneyCFK #CBias

A week or so ago I shared with you all how I was working on a campaign with Champions For Kids and how I was going to give a stocking to my blogging friend, Paula. As a boy scout leader, Paula donates her time every week to give children a sense of belonging so I felt that she was the perfect person to give my stocking filled with goodies to. Since Paula has three children I figured I would give not one but three stockings so each child could have their own.

I went shopping at Walmart where I found a lot of stocking stuffers and cute little stockings. I got one Tinkerbell one for her daughter and two Cars themed ones for her children. I brought them over to Paula’s house last night and her children opened them this morning. Here are some pictures I wanted to share:

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I really enjoyed putting together stockings for Paula’s children and hope she knows how much her service to the community is appreciated :)

If you want to see more pictures from my shopping trip you can view my Google+ story. Champions For Kids can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own.)

Christmas 2011 In Pictures

Christmas Eve celebration with cousins. Present time and all the kids are waiting patiently for their presents.

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Leaving cookies out for Santa. Jacob chose to leave him juice instead of milk.

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This is what Santa left them.

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Jacob coming down the steps on Christmas morning. He was more interested in showing me his Thomas paper than looking at what was under the tree.

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Lucas found the best way to see what was in his stocking was to dump it into his lap.

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Jacob checked to see if Santa ate his cookies and drank his juice. He had!

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Gift time! These boys were so spoiled this year!

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Time for our birthday party for Jesus!

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Jacob enjoyed frosting the cake because he got to eat it off the spatula.

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Happy Birthday Baby Jesus!! :) {Jake decorated the cake....}

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

I will be taking today and tomorrow “off” to spend time with my family.

<3

Alicia

Last Minute Christmas Shopping At Family Dollar

Still have shopping to do? Family Dollar has a great selection of name brand toys at wonderful prices. Hundreds of their toys are only $5 or $10. They also have a coupon online for 10% off a toy purchase of $100 or more.

Last time we were there they had a large assortment of Disney themed toys which is great for my boys who love Cars and Toy Story and for little girls who love Princess toys. The also have Paper Jamz. We got a guitar to try out. Look at Jake as a Rock Star:

He loved playing it and even climbed up on the little picnic table pretending it was his stage. Luke liked trying to play it too though he had no idea what to do with it.

(Disclosure: We received the Paper Jamz Guitar from Family Dollar to review but all thoughts are my own.)

‘A Strange Way To Save The World’ by 4Him

Christmas is in a couple days! This is the last Christmas music video I will be posting. It’s by 4Him. Enjoy! :)

‘Joseph’s Lullaby’ By Mercy Me

Giving Back During The Christmas Season With Champions For Kids

Giving to others is very important to me and during the Holidays it seems like there are even more opportunities to do so. I try to get my children involved in the giving whenever I can. When we pass the Salvation Army buckets I always give the boys money to put in the buckets. We put together boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Every year we also buy gifts for a family in need. A couple years ago we bought presents for children whose parents are in prison and donated them through the Angel Tree ministry. This year we gave gifts to a mother who we knew. She is now able to wrap something to put under the Christmas tree for her young daughters.

This year I am also excited to be involved in a campaign for Champions for Kids. Their vision is to see a world where millions of people work to ensure that no child dies from hunger or easily preventable diseases, that ALL children have the nutrition and food they need to thrive, that every child has a home, and that every child has someone who cares and a place to belong.

For my part in this campaign I get to go shopping and give a person I know a Christmas stocking full of goodies. When trying to decide who to give it to I wanted to give it to someone who was working to ensure that children had a place to “belong” and I thought of my friend, Paula, from Frosted Fingers. She is a boy scout den leader and every week gives boys a sense of belonging in the community by putting together activities and outings for them to partake in.

I’m looking forward to thanking her for her commitment to making life better for children and will be sharing more with you all after I give her the stockings.

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #DisneyCFK All thoughts are my own.)

‘Hope Is Born This Night’ By Sidewalk Prophets

Sidewalk Prophets had another song I really liked recently but I hadn’t heard this song until this week {even though it came out in 2010}.

‘Christmas Day’ By Mandisa & Michael W. Smith

I hadn’t realized {until today} that Mandisa is the woman singing this song. She has a beautiful voice!

10 Ideas For Christmas Morning Breakfast

One Christmas tradition I loved as I was growing up was having a big breakfast on Christmas morning. We used to open our stockings from Santa, have breakfast, and then it was finally time to open gifts. My dad used to make casseroles for breakfasts but now that I have my own family we need to figure out what we want to make. Sinisa is European and loves making crepes with nutella so that is an option but I wanted to get some more ideas so I headed to Pinterest for some inspiration.

Here are 10 ideas I found {click on pictures to be taken to the posts they come from}:

Christmas Tree French Toast

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Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans

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Sausage and Egg Casserole

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Spinach and Ham Omelet Rollup

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Breakfast Wreath

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Red Velvet Pancakes

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Santa Pancakes

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German Pancakes

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Blitzen Berry Yogurt

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Christmas Muffins

‘The Night Before Christmas’ By Brandon Heath

I’ve had readers telling me they love discovering these new Christmas songs that I’ve been posting so I decided to post one a day this week. I heard this song on the radio and knew I had to share it. I’ve now listened to it three times in a row. It’s a great song!

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas…{15 Ideas For Christmas Eve Fun}


1) Enjoy hot cocoa as you drive around town and look at lights

2) Sing Christmas carols

3) Bake cookies and decorate them

4) Make ornaments for the tree

5) Watch a Christmas themed movie. Jacob and Lucas both love Caillou’s Holiday Movie.

6) Attend a Church service

7) Make Reindeer food {oatmeal mixed with glitter} and sprinkle it in the yard

8) Eat a special Christmas Eve meal as a family

9) Set out cookies and milk for Santa {and don’t forget the carrot for Rudolph}

10) Track Santa’s journey online

11) Eat sugarplums {here’s a recipe to make them}

12) Put on Christmas pajamas. The boys have special Thomas jammies for Christmas and will wear them all day :)

13) Read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

14) Read about the birth of Baby Jesus and make him a birthday cake.

15) Send the kids to bed early!! {Ok, maybe this one is only fun for the adults….}

‘Breath Of Heaven’ By Amy Grant

With Christmas one week from today I wanted to share my all time favorite Christmas song. This one is called Breath of Heaven {Mary’s Song} and is performed by Amy Grant. Enjoy :)

Send A Personalized Call From Santa

10 Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas

This week starts my least favorite Christmas “to do”…wrapping gifts. It’s just so time consuming since I have to make sure they look perfect and while I’m doing so I’m thinking of how they are just going to get torn open. I do some gift bags but I think unwrapping gifts is so fun for the boys so I want to give them gifts they can unwrap.

I searched online and found 10 creative gift wrapping ideas. Now if only I had the time to make my gifts look this beautiful… {Click on the pictures to be taken to the posts they come from.}

Gifts with flowers on them

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Doilies as wrapping decor

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Confetti Dipped Gifts

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Lightbulb Bow

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Wrapping with cloth

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Newspaper wrapping with big bow

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DIY Wine Wraps

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Wrapping with ribbon

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Stamped Gifts

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Button decorated wrapping paper

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Speaking of gift wrapping…who wouldn’t LOVE to have this room in their home?

Practical Magic traditional home office
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{Linked up at OhAmanda}

Advent Day #16

Today we made a baby Jesus wrapped in cloths for our Truth In The Tinsel Ornament. Don’t pay attention to the fact that our baby Jesus has a green face. Haha. The only other color ball ornament I had was red so I figured green was the better choice.

Ornament Tutorial {Frugal Gift Idea} #GlueNGlitter #ElmersHoliday

I found a fun ornament idea through Pinterest and wanted to recreate it. There were so many steps to it and I wanted to make it easier so that even people who weren’t crafty could make something pretty and so that it took less time to make. Here is my super easy, super frugal, and super cute ornament tutorial:

Gather your supplies:

-Clear plastic ornaments that open

-Scrapbook papers (No designs)

-Scrapbook letters

-Scissors (I used X-ACTO Precision Scissors)

-Glue pen (I used CraftBond Dual-Tip Flexible Pen)

-Optional: Double Sided Tape (I used CraftBond Double-Sided Tape)

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Trace the plastic ornament onto your scrapbook paper and cut out the circle.

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Add your scrapbook letters to the paper. You can do initials, words, whatever you'd like just leave space around the edges.

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Use the glue pen to put glue around the edges of the ornament.

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Match the edges of the ornament with the edges of the circle and press down. Hold down for a minute or so to secure. Wipe around outside edges to get extra glue off. It's ok if there is glue inside. It dries clear :)

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Put a ribbon through the hole and glue one side to the other.

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You can also make a bow and attach it with double sided tape if you want a bow instead of a ribbon to hang it.

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They make great gifts, additions to packages, or you can just use them to make your tree look pretty!

You can see more pictures here in my Google+ story.

(Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #ElmersHoliday #gluenglitter #collectivebias #CBias. All opinions are my own.)

Shared at:


Advent Day #14

Today’s Truth In The Tinsel ornament was making a stable. I liked this craft because it was quick and easy. We talked about how the stable probably smelled like stinky animals and Jacob thought that was hilarious. (Also, in case you missed my CHRISTmas post- there are a lot of ideas for Nativity crafts in there).

Christmas Fun In The Chicago Suburbs {8 Places To Take Your Family}

Do you live in a Chicago suburb and are looking for places to take your kids to do some fun Christmas things? I have some ideas:

BASS PRO SHOPS (Bolingbrook and Gurnee)

BOLINGBROOK PROMENADE (Bolingbrook)

Symphony in light shows every evening from 5-9pm until December 31st. Find more information on the Bolingbrook Promenade here.

BROOKFIELD ZOO (Brookfield)

Chicagoland’s largest light festival takes place at Brookfield Zoo. There are lots of lights, animated light displays, a laser light show, music and entertainment. Find out more information here.

CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDENS (Glencoe)

Take a magical adventure to a winter wonderland of twinkling lights and holiday beauty at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Outside, 750,000 lights sparkle and welcome you and your family to the Garden’s wonderland. Inside the Regenstein Center, a 10,000-square-foot exhibition of miniature trains winds through more than 80 miniature Chicago-area landmarks. In addition to the Wonderland Express exhibition there will be decorated trees, a gingerbread village display, and a wreath display and sale. Find out more information here.

MORTON ARBORETUM (Lisle)

A holiday favorite returns! The “Enchanted Railroad” rolls through with model trains of different colors and styles. One train even has a tiny camera on board so visitors can see what it would be like to ride along! Nine trains operate via remote-controlled interlocked signals, allowing them to cross tracks safely, and two trolleys that reverse direction automatically. Bring the kids and spend 30 minutes or more “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” at the toy trains. Find out more details here.

LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER (Schaumburg)

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago invites you to celebrate the season during Holly Jolly Holidays. Festive decorations will deck the halls of the Center throughout the month of December. Guests will also enjoy special seasonal games, group builds and plenty or LEGO-tastic holiday fun! Find out more information here.

CUNEO MANSION & GARDENS (Vernon Hills)

The Drive Thru Holiday Light Show presented by the Village of Vernon Hills in cooperation with the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is held annually on the magnificent grounds of the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens.  The event opens Friday November 25, 2011 and runs thru December 31, 2011. Find out more information here.  

COSLEY ZOO (Wheaton)

20,000 twinkling lights and spectacular displays transform Cosley Zoo into a fairy tale winter wonderland from Thanksgiving Friday through the end of December. The lights come on at 3p.m. and the zoo closes at 9p.m. Visit the animals and purchase your Christmas tree, wreath, and holiday gifts! FREE to the public! Find out more information here.

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Make sure to visit Kidgrade to get more ideas of where to head for family fun in the Chicago area!

Advent Day #13

Today’s Truth In The Tinsel Ornament was Bethlehem. We used paint pens to minimize the mess and Jacob really enjoyed making it colorful. We talked about the town we live in and how Jesus was born in a town called Bethlehem and then watched a YouTube video of “O Little Town Of Bethlehem”.

Throw A Birthday Party For Jesus {10 Ideas}

This year for Christmas we will be staying home. The children will be getting Christmas gifts but we will also be celebrating Jesus’ birthday. I wanted to share 10 ideas for throwing a birthday party for Jesus:

1) Along with “Happy Birthday Jesus” you can sing Christmas Carols like “Joy To The World” and “Away In A Manger”

2) Bake Him a birthday cake (find a cake recipe with symbolism here)

3) Have your children make a birthday card for Jesus

4) No birthday party is complete without gifts. Look through a gift catalog, like World Vision’s, that gives gifts to those in need and choose a gift to give.

5) Have everyone wear birthday “cone” hats (find a printable here)

6) Make birthday party decorations by creating paper chains with all the names of Jesus on them

{click to be taken to Spell Outloud blog for directions on making this paper chain}

7) Make a CHRISTmas craft (I have ideas here)

8) Bake cookies together and package them to give to friends.

9) Read about Jesus’ birth to focus on the reason you are celebrating.

10) Invite friends. If you do it on a day other than Christmas you can make it a true birthday party by inviting your friends to celebrate with you.

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You may also enjoy my post on 7 ways to celebrate the reason for the season!

Advent Day #12 {“I Spy” Craft Tutorial}

For today’s ornament in the Truth In The Tinsel the theme was census and we made an “I Spy” Mary and Joseph craft using M&M’s for Mary and Joseph. We didn’t have a baby food jar so we used a snack size apple container instead. Here’s how we made it:

How to make an "I Spy" Ornament

If you want to make this ornament I would use the baby food jar if you have it because the one I made I can’t really put on a string to hang it. I think this would be a great craft to make at any time of the year though. It would be fun to make an “I Spy” Jar for every theme that we did and hide things that go with the theme.

CHRISTmas Crafts

We are making an ornament a day using the Truth in the Tinsel Advent e-book but I wanted to share some other Advent inspired crafts others are making. {Click on the links to be taken to the posts they come from.}

Printable Nativity Set

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Advent Wreath

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Baby Jesus On Construction Paper

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Gingerbread Nativity

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Coffee Filter Angel

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Advent Coloring Pages

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Baby Jesus Craft

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Golden Cork Angel

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Nativity In A Pot

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You may also enjoy my post on 7 ways to celebrate the reason for the season!

Gift Guide Inspired By Parents Magazine

I get lots of great ideas for crafts and recipes from magazines so I thought it would be fun to put a gift guide together inspired by all the great things I saw in this month’s issue of Parents magazine. Some are companies featured in the magazine and some are similar to ones featured.

FOR BABY GIRLS:

Ruffled Bloomers By Ruffled Butts

 FOR BABY BOYS:

Rockstar Bundle By Carters

FOR TODDLERS:

Rocker by Sprout Kids

FOR PRESCHOOL AGED GIRLS:

Tutu Outfit From Cutie Pa Tutus

FOR PRESCHOOL AGED BOYS:

Superhero Costume By BabyPop

FOR ELEMENTARY AGED GIRLS:

Girls 3-in-1 Jacket

FOR ELEMENTARY AGED BOYS:

Insulated Jacket by Spyder

FOR MOM:

Personalized Necklace From The Vintage Pearl

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Want even more gift ideas? Check out my Google+ story!

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias. All thoughts are my own and I was not compensated by the companies I mentioned or offered any products in exchange for including them in this gift guide.)

Truth In The Tinsel- 20% Off Today Only {And A Special 12 Days Plan}

If you have been following my blog you know that we have been doing an Advent ornament a day using the Truth In The Tinsel: An Advent Experience For Little Hands book as a guide. If you were bummed that you missed your chance to join in I have good news… it’s not too late!!!

Amanda is offering 20% off Truth In The Tinsel TODAY ONLY! You will also get a modified Advent plan so that you can go through the whole thing in 12 days. This book is amazing and it’s been really helpful in providing an outline of what to talk about and do to teach my three year old about the Christmas story.

I really recommend getting this book if you haven’t already. You can read my review here or purchase it on sale here. Use code 12DAYS to get 20% off (which is $1) the ebook. The sale ends midnight ET.