Every time I go shopping, my family has to listen to me complain about all the packaging that comes with products. A new pair of shoes comes with paper stuffing, cardboard supports, plus the box itself. One of the toys I ordered online for the daycare came in a carton, surrounded by bubble wrap, and packaged in a cardboard box with a plastic window. I opened the box and pried no less than twelve plastic wire twists off the inner cardboard that held the toy down; the twists were threaded through six plastic bars, which were also covered by a plastic tape. Really? Really? Yes, really. It took me twenty minutes to remove the toy. Thank goodness I didn't have 8 kids staring up at me, waiting to play with it. Score one for me for waiting until daycare was over to open it. What a waste of time, money and resources! The kids loved the toy. I sliced my finger open on the plastic. Unbelievable.
Thanks to Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell for creating Celebrate Green! This book is filled with hundreds of ideas to make your holidays and celebrations green. Imagine knowing you never have to deal with the above scenario! Their ideas are practical, fun, and inexpensive. They have written a fabulous guide, filled with tips and ideas and humor.
Together this mother and daughter have revealed their secrets to keeping family traditions alive while protecting the planet, where to find the best green gifts, and my personal favorite - how to decorate like a pro without going broke!
The next few months are filled with celebrations - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, plus all five of my family members have a birthday between October and January. I'll be using this book's "six essential guidelines" to planning our celebrations!
I really enjoyed reading this book. I bookmarked several recipes that I can't wait to try and I really loved all the personal stories tucked into this collection of eco-friendly ideas. The celebrations are not limited to just holidays either. There are great ideas to host green baby showers, weddings and graduations!
This amazing book is, of course, published on recycled paper and a portion of the proceeds from their book sales benefit Treeswing.org and HealthyChild.org. A sticker on the back of the book notes that a tree was planted for this book by Ecolibris.net. These clever ladies even made sure we have a place to write notes in the back of the book. Five stars for Celebrate Green!
One copy of this book will be awarded to a Planet Weidknecht reader as a giveaway prize during the Go Green Giveaway Hop beginning October 5, 2011. You can also purchase Celebrate Green on Amazon.com! Find Celebrate Green on Twitter and Facebook. Disclosure: I received two books at no charge for this review. My opinions are always true.
Did I mention what a long week it has been? Usually this time on a Friday night, I'm totally wiped out, exhausted, and snoring in my recliner in front of the news channel. After 55 hours of my daycare work week, my level of energy is zapped. This week, something is different. This week, I feel great. This week, I'm trying Life Equals.
Life Equals provided me with a one month supply of Life = Focus + Energy. With just two capsules, I am alert and ready for anything. It's a blend of B vitamins, herbs and amino acids, with no sugar or calories. Fortunately, it doesn't cause any jittery side effects or crashes, it's just a very subtle nudge of energy. It's made a true difference in my week and I will continue to use it.
Even better, I know that when I buy my Life = Focus + Energy, or any other product from their line, Life Equals will provide children's multivitamins to an undernourished child through their partnership with Vitamin Angels. The Life=Life Program has already donated over 13,500 bottles of multivitamins. You can find out more about Life Equals products on their website, and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.
If you choose to purchase anything from the website, you can use my special discount code "planetw" and get 10% off until the end of 2011.
The Giveaway THREE readers will win a $20 gift card to use at Life Equals. To enter, you must be a follower of Planet Weidknecht, via email, RSS, or GFC. You must be at least 18 years old to enter and win.
Mandatory Entry: (must be completed before any bonus entries)
Visit Life Equals website and tell me in a comment below how you might spend your $20 gift card if you win.
Bonus Entries: (separate comment for each completed)
Tweet this message and leave the url in your comment. "Go enter to #win at Planet @Weidknecht @LifeEquals $20 Gift Card Three Winners http://www.weidknecht.com/2011/08/review-and-giveaway-life-equals.html"
Entries accepted until August 31, 2011 at midnight. Winners chosen by reading tea leaves. Just kidding! I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Winners chosen via random.org.
Today is the last day of daycare for one of my daycare boys. He starts kindergarten on Tuesday. He's been in my daycare since March 3, 2008. This is the hardest part of my job, you know, the saying goodbye part. I love these kids so much but I also know it's my responsibility to get them ready for school and then let them go. His kindergarten teacher is going to be so impressed with him. He excels in all areas of development. He did this yesterday, by himself:
It is so important to provide young children with the right materials and experiences so that learning to read is a natural and fun activity. With 25 years experience and two degrees, I have a very clear idea of what I need to provide for these preschoolers to ensure that happens. Most parents understand the basics of providing books for kids, reading to them, and helping them learn the alphabet, but there are hundreds of ways to provide rich pre-reading experiences for children!
Michelle Vallene has put together a wonderful resource for parents, called What Children Need to Learn to Read. This is not another boring parenting manual! This is an easy to reference collection of songs, rhymes, poetry, games, and activities to provide your child with language-rich experiences.
As an early childhood teacher, I can easily give my stamp of approval on this book. It's filled with all the wonderful things I do every day! There are ideas for children from birth to the early grades, so this is a perfect gift for any parent or even an expectant mom.
Since you are your child's first teacher, it makes sense that you have the same type of resources as preschool teachers. What Children Need to Learn to Read is the guide to everything you need to ensure your child is on the right track.
I also got a fabulous CD of songs and rhymes with the book. Playing educational rhymes and songs in the background while children play is very beneficial to them and music is always good for the soul. I love this CD and so did my daycare kids. Thank you Michelle! Find her on Facebook and Twitter!
Co-Opted by Joan Bigwood follows a woman named Francesca through her life. In the beginning, we learn she is a rather plain-looking character who is very career-oriented. She comes from a family of five and has a small circle of very good friends. We meet her parents, a mother who is dramatic and a father who is very laid back. We learn how she discovers the man she wishes to marry and how she goes about capturing the man of her dreams. The book chronicles Francesca's transition to motherhood, while trying to juggle a highly demanding job. We see her and her husband work through the issues that many families face, including job loss and gain, moving from place to place, issues with childcare and schools, family illnesses.
As Francesca hurtles through life, she finds herself morphing from career-woman to full-time-motherhood to caretaker of parents. Francesca's lifelong friends are meanwhile pulling her into their problems, compounding the challenge of simple day to day existence. The title Co-Opted becomes clear when Francesca discovers her journeys have landed her at a co-op preschool, where she begins to grow in a whole new direction. This book, although a bit fractured at the beginning, pulled together to become a very good story. I laughed out loud; I got choked up a couple times; and I cheered for Francesca. The author Joan Bigwood has written a story that will intrigue you and entertain you. Purchase this book Co-Opted through Amazon.com. Disclosure: I received this book at no charge for this review. My opinions are always true.
It was like any other weekday morning. I dragged myself out of bed in time to take a shower and stumble downstairs to open the daycare. The dog was scratching the back door to get out, so I slid open the glass door and he bolted past me to chase a rabbit across the backyard. In his grand exit, he bumped into one of the chairs on the deck, so I grabbed it with one hand to move it over so the children don't bump it when they come out to play later. I felt a crunch beneath my thumb as I moved the chair and saw a stinkbug fall to the deck from the chair. Gross. Holding my breath I ran for the kitchen sink, scrubbing furiously so as not to stink all day long. Disaster avoided. Deep breath. I hit the coffee pot button so my morning caffeine IV could be inserted via my coffee cup. I grabbed the food and water cups for the dog, filled them and carried them outside to the dog run where Buddy was waiting and wagging, ready for breakfast. I scratched his ears and headed back inside. I dropped the cups into the sink and looked over at my coffee pot. It was only about one cup full. UGH. Gonna be a long wait. Wait. What? Where's the coffee stream? Huh? No more coffee coming out of the spout? OMG. No. This can't be happening to me! Okay, calm down. Turn pot off and on again. Nothing. Unplug and plug in again. Nothing. Try another plug. Nothing. My level of panic began to rise. Then a feeling of calm came over me. I hollered up the steps, "Hey Johnny!!!!" My dear husband appeared at the top of the steps like magic. "My coffee pot stopped working. Please bring me the coffee pot from the bedroom for today." Yes, I really have one in my bedroom. I literally drink coffee from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. I spend my days downstairs in the daycare area and my evenings and weekends in my bedroom. I have a desk in both rooms and a laptop so my work area can go with me. So, thankfully, my most terrifying morning was resolved. Whew. And tonight, I get a new coffee machine!
When I was young, I loved to build things. I had a set of blocks and a set of log cabin logs, and I also remember building lots of things with glue and popsicle sticks. HearthSong has created an award-winning building set called Connectagons that I couldn't wait to share with my daycare kids. I gathered them around me at circle time and told them I had a new toy to share with them. They were immediately captivated.
I showed them the box of Happy Faces Connectagons that I had chosen. There are currently nine different Connectagon themes at HearthSong, including Fairy Garden, Under the Sea, and Treetop. I chose the Happy Face ones because they are slightly larger and thicker, made especially for young children. I showed the kids how to connect them and then put them on the table for the children to explore.
Before I turned the kids loose on the new toy, I broke down the word "CON-NECT-A-GON" and had them repeat it. It is important to me to expand their vocabulary and this new word was a complicated one, but they mastered it. Then one of my toddlers immediately began lining them up in a row, very typical for this age group. We talked about the colors of the Connectagons, then sorted them by color. We also observed how some of the faces were different.
My five year old immediately began to connect the pieces by turning them in an alternating pattern. They are made of wood so they will certainly hold up to the many hands that will play with them here. As the three older kids worked on connecting them, I asked them where they thought the name Connectagons came from. A four year old girl said, "It's a shape like a hexagon." The five year old boy said, "Because it's a connect toy." I was impressed they broke down the word that easily. They must have an awesome teacher.
One of the four year old girls immediately made a flower. Then she stood it up on its side and announced it was a ferris wheel. Have I mentioned enough in my blog posts that I absolutely, positively love open-ended toys? My personal favorite was this rocket a three year old boy constructed.
I'm so excited that HearthSong said I get to give one lucky reader a set of Happy Faces Connectagons! I'll take entries until midnight August 27, 2011, then choose a winner via random.org. Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter. You must be at least 18 to enter and win, and as always you must follow my blog via email, GFC, or RSS. Good luck!
Disclosure: I received a set of Connectagons at no charge for this review. My opinions are always true.
The ABC's of Me is a post that will provide a snapshot of yours truly. Enjoy!
A is for Author - See "Raindrop Dream" (my first book) by Lisa Weidknecht
B is for Blogger - my newest compulsion
C is for Coffee- my drink of choice
D is for Daycare provider - my career choice
"E is for Emotions" (my second book) by Lisa Weidknecht
F is for Family - who are stuck with me no matter what
G is for God - including Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who leads me and loves me
H is for Heather - my sweet, smart, cute daughter who is all grown up now
I is for Ice cream - my favorite dessert
J is for Johnathan - my smart, handsome bonus teenage son who is a trivia buff
K is for Keys to happiness - what I strive to find each day
L is for Laptop - my most important tool
M is for Mom - of three kids
N is for Naptime - the only part of my work day in daycare that I can sit down
O is for Open - Open door, Open arms, Open heart - that's me
P is for Pizza - my favorite food that I could eat daily the rest of my life
Q is for Quiet - something I often crave and seldom experience
R is for Ryan - my smart, handsome, musical, skateboarding teenage son
S is for Sweepstakes and Scrapbooking - my favorite hobbies
T is for Texas - my home and my favorite place to be
U is for Undertall - because I'm too short for my weight
V is for Victory - over my past marriage that left many scars
W is for Wife - I'm now happily married to my best friend and soul-mate Johnny
X is for (pretty much almost nothing that describes me, sorry)
Y is for Yahtzee - our all-time favorite family game
Z is for Zany (aka Silly) which is what my daycare kids always tell me I am
I think I've finally trained my UPS guy not to ring my doorbell or knock loudly during the daycare kids' naptime. One more problem solved!
UPS recently (after naptime) brought me a new package of products that have helped me solve even more problems. Dycem sent me a huge padded envelope, filled with an assortment of their Non Slip Solutions products. I had so much fun deciding what to do with all these great Dycem solutions. Every household absolutely needs a jar opener and a bottle opener. My old one was a much flimsier opener and only lasted about a year. Dycem products are excellent quality and surpass my old one easily.
The package of four placemats will come in handy with my smallest daycare kids who can never seem to keep their plate on the table. Come to think of it, I know some clumsy adults who could really use these too. They will especially come in handy for our breakfast in bed days, because we have to carry a tray upstairs and these will prevent the sliding and slipping of dishes.
The coaster mat and the rectangle mat are a heavier thicker mat, perfect for holding kitchen items steady when mixing or cutting things. I hate when my cutting board slides across the counter while I'm cutting! No more, thanks to Dycem. They are also very easy to clean. The coaster is a good sized circle and, in addition to holding a bowl still for me, will also conveniently keep my coffee cup steady on my desk in the daycare. My laptop will appreciate the security of that, since it isn't fond of liquids.
My personal favorites, because I can use them in the daycare most, are the two absolutely adorable Dycem non slip character mats. I wish I had one for each child, because they are so going to fight over these. These mats are perfectly sized for a personal play mat. Aren't they cute? The quality of these mats is sure to outlast many preschoolers. They are also non-toxic and latex-free.
These are only a portion of the great Non Slip Products from Dycem. Go check out their website to see how they can help you find solutions for baby, home, business, boat, and so much more. Link up to their Twitter account too so you can stay informed about their promotions. Thank you Dycem!! Disclosure: I received these samples at no charge for this review. My opinions are always true.
I love breakfast food. I can eat a bowl cereal any time of day and cereal bars are the handiest snack ever dreamed up. Even as an adult, I usually choose kids' cereals because I love the sweet crunchiness. Adult cereals just don't have that nudge of naughtiness like a bowl of bright fruity blobs. I'd much rather have a bowl of marshmallows than a bowl of cardboard. Cereal bars are often candy bars incognito, so it's easy for me to rationalize that I'm eating healthy when in reality I'm probably not.
Today, I stretched out of my comfort zone and tried two different Kashi foods. Aren't you proud of me? My breakfast was a Kashi TLC Granola Bar. I unwrapped it and looked at it. It was obviously health food. I probably wrinkled my nose while examining it.
The layer of chocolate over the top was a bit deceiving. I wondered if it really tasted like chocolate. I picked up that Kashi TLC Peanutty Dark Chocolate Layered Granola Bar and took a bite. And another. And another. And another. I slowly chewed, savoring every delicious, chocolate covered, peanut delight.
I ate just one for breakfast and I was not hungry again until lunchtime, which helps me control portion size and quantity. This all natural granola bar did not taste like health food to me. It tasted just like a candy bar to me. I'm sold on them. If you're looking for healthy snack foods that are low in fat, low in sugar, high in protein, this is it! As my lunchtime approached, I decided it was a good day for a bowl of cereal. Isn't it always a good day for cereal?
I poured a tiny little bit of Kashi Berry Blossoms cereal into my bowl. After all, it's health food too and I'd already mostly decided I probably wasn't going to like it. It resembled an adult (aka boring) cereal to me, although the berry part intrigued me a bit. I popped one piece of the dry cereal in my mouth and wow, what a grand surprise! This cereal is awesome! Wait, this is good for me? Hooray! I added more cereal to the bowl, poured on my milk and enjoyed every sweet bite.
The box says this cereal is made with real fruit, has 18g of 7 whole grains, and 5g of fiber. Honestly though, that isn't what is important to me when it comes to cereal. For me it's all about the taste. This stuff tastes really, really good and I will definitely buy more of it. You need to try this too! Just go to the Kashi website and request your free sample. You can also link up to their Facebook page for coupons, promotions and challenges. I'm so excited to have found an adult cereal that tastes like a kids' cereal. Thank you Kashi; I'm a new fan! Disclosure: I received both samples at no charge for this review. My opinions are always true.
Sweet Tomatoes is kicking off their Passport Promotion and new this year they’ll be featuring Cuban delicacies. During the annual Passport Promotion, Sweet Tomatoes restaurants, for the first time ever, will launch Cuban menu items company-wide!
From August 17-29, Passport to Cuba will offer an array of Cuban-inspired dishes with aSweet Tomatoes twist. During this time, guests can get their fill of delicious items such as Havana Banana Tossed Salad and Cubano Focaccia, a take on the classic Cuban sandwich, which incorporates citrus-marinated pork, diced ham, shredded Swiss cheese and chopped deli pickles. These Cuban delights will be in addition to the Sweet Tomatoes guest favorites available throughout the year.
One lucky Planet Weidknecht reader will win dinner passes for two! Simply visit the Sweet Tomatoes website, then come back here and tell me in a comment something that looks delicious to you. Enter until midnight on August 20 and the winner will be selected by random.org. As always, you must be a follower of Planet Weidknecht to enter my giveaways, either via email, RSS or GFC.
Disclosure: I will receive two dinner passes for posting this information, then I will review my dinner for you.
What: We want our fans to let us know which flavor of Sidral Mundet should win “The Great Apple Debate” – the true and beloved “original” or the tangy and wild “manzana verde” (green apple). All you have to do is sign on to Twitter and vote for your favorite flavor for a chance to win prizes! Winners will be randomly selected daily and at the end of the week. At the end of the week, we will collect all the tweets to determine which flavor had the most votes. We will announce the winner of the debate at the end of the week, as well as the winner of our grand prize!
Daily: 10 x Sidral Mundet gift bags (50 total)
Grand Prize: 1 x Apple iPad 2
To Enter: First, you must follow @SidralMundet on Twitter. Log on and vote by tweeting “@SidralMundet #SMOriginal” or “@SidralMundet #SMVerde.” We would also like to encourage users to give us a reason they believe their flavor should win: Green is my favorite color, original is always better, etc. You can enter as many times as you wish, but your tweets must include the “@SidralMundet” handle, as well as “#SMOriginal” or “#SMVerde” hashtag. At the end of each day, gift packs winners will be notified publically and via direct message (DM). The grand prize winner will be notified at the end of the week.
Spread the Word: Vote in The Great Apple Debate Aug 15-19! Tweet @SidralMundet #SMOriginal or #SMVerde 4 ur chance 2 win sodas or an iPad2! This giveaway is not associated with Planet Weidknecht.
Austin is so environmentally conscious; last month the mayor introduced a bill to ban plastic bags. Talk about an impact! How would YOU like to make a big impact? You can be one of the first to carry the trendy new SnapSac! One Bag at a Time has expanded its line of stylish reusable grocery bags to include this smart-looking trend-setter.
Isn't it darling? It comes folded up like a clutch purse, so flat you can put it in your own purse or open one of these up and put the others inside it. They are made of excellent quality materials and I love the designs on them. I got so many compliments when I took them to the grocery store!
The is the other side of them when they're folded up and snapped. I was afraid when I opened them that I would not be able to fold them back into such a nice little clutch again, but it was so easy to do. These bags are very roomy when they are opened up. In just one bag, I put in a box of cereal, a loaf of bread, several cans of fruit, two pasta mix boxes, and a macaroni box.
The straps are sewn on firmly and if you put in a bit less that I did, you can even snap the bag shut when it's unfolded for use. These SnapSac bags are very affordable and cute enough to be used for carrying school supplies, gym clothes, or whatever you need to carry. Be sure to link up to their Facebook and Twitter so you can always be first of your friends to get their news!
Disclosure: I received two SnapSac bags at no charge for this review. My opinions are always true.
When I was a child, raisins were one of my favorite snacks. Sun-Maid has gone retro and turned this sweet treat into a portable mouth party!! Sun-Maid Vanilla Yogurt Raisins are so delicious and they are good for you. The little mini boxes are perfect for helping kids maintain portion control too. Since raisins are a dried fruit, they don't need special temperature settings, making them one of the best choices for lunchboxes. The Vanilla Yogurt Raisins even survived shipping in the 100+ degree Texas heat without melting. Impressive. They are soft, fresh, and sweet.
Need a snack to keep kids quiet in the car on the way home from school or daycare? This super high-energy box of Vanilla Yogurt Raisins is a great pick for kids (and grown-ups) who are always on the go. I really love this convenient, natural snack.
The Sun-Maid website is full of fabulous recipes, some up to 100 years old. Right now, you can even enter to win a trip to see a real panda cub at Zoo Atlanta (think "airplane snack" to keep those crabby toddlers happy, too)! You can also keep up to date with new promotions and coupons on the Sun-Maid Facebook page. Thanks so much Sun-Maid for making a good snack even better! Disclosure: I was provided this product at no charge for this review. Opinions are always my own.