Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega Bloks Blok Squad Fire Patrol Rescue Review

It is no secret that my kids love building sets. Our oldest is absolutely obsessed with them and now our twins are really starting to get into them as well. My biggest challenge is keeping tiny two year old fingers off of them! We recently had a chance to test out the Blok Squad Fire Patrol Rescue set from Mega Bloks, which ended up being a perfect set for the twins.

"Blok Squad buildable playsets introduce kids to everyday heroes with themes such as fire patrol, police and construction. Blok Squad is perfect for kids who have transitioned from mini blocks to micro blocks and are ready for more detailed builds."

Blok Squad Fire Patrol Rescue is one of several Fire Patrol themed sets. For ages 5 and up, this set comes with 190 pieces that create two vehicles: a Fire Rescue Pumper Truck and a Fire Patrol ATV. Detailed building instructions are included and all of the pieces come in sealed bags. These bags have perforations on one end making them easy to open. I can't tell you how many times I have struggled with other bags, only to have pieces go flying everywhere once I finally rip the bag open.

Since the twins are just on the cusp of 5 and are just starting to get into these types of building sets, they required my assistance in building this set. I found the instructions to be fairly easy to follow and the pieces snapped together with little effort. It took me roughly 45 minutes to get these built, while also watching over 3 kids. I would imagine it would take less time if I had no distractions. Once completed, there are left over pieces for children to do as they please with.

The boys really like the fire rescue tools that come with the set, like the ax and fire extinguishers, that they can put in the figure's hands and play with. Theses are the yellow pieces. As a mom of twins who often fight over everything, I really like the fact that this set comes with two vehicles so they each have something to play with.

The only negative I had for this set was in relation to the fire truck. In order to get the fireman figure in and out of the firetruck, you have to take the roof off. That tends to be a bit of a pain when playing so for the most part, they leave the figure outside of the vehicle or have it riding on the back. It would be perfect if there were some type of opening door there for kids to easily get the figure in and out.

Overall, my boys were very pleased with this building set and are having a lot of fun playing with it. Even my seven year old likes it. Reasonably priced at $9.99 makes this a really great value.

Mega Bloks Family Club
Join the Mega Bloks Family Club today and receive exclusive offers, contests, sweepstakes and promotions on Mega Bloks toys. You will also receive a free email newsletter with great building ideas.

Please note that the opinions and views expressed in this review are my own and based on my personal experience with the product and/or company. You may encounter a different experience with this than I did. I received free product to review. 

Green Giveaway Friday 3/30

Happy Friday! Please add both your green and non-green giveaways and contests into Mr. Linky below so we can do some giveaway hopping! Be sure to include the expiration date. Thanks!

You can also submit your green giveaways to me during the week for me to feature on Fridays.

Crunchy Beach Mama
Tribest Life ~ BPA-Free Personal Blender and Grinder 4/2
Life Without Plastic ~ Stainless Steel Tumbler, Spork, & Food Container 4/3
Rubbermaid 2-in-1 Recycler 4/4
Oogave Natural Organic Soda 4/5

Family Focus Blog
$50 Amazon Gift Card 4/2
Organic Tanks 4/5
Organic Tea Gift Box 4/9

The Mom Buzz
Honeywell HEPAClean® 3-in-1 Tower Air Purifier 4/1
LunchSkins 4/16

To The Motherhood
$10 Starbucks GC & Reusable Cup 4/5

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Turn Your Lights Off for Earth Hour

So yesterday I was on Facebook when I saw something pop up in my news feed about all 30 NHL teams participating in Earth Hour on March 31. I thought to myself, "Wow, that is really cool that they are joining in!" And then 30 seconds later I thought "Oh snap! That is THIS Saturday!"

What? People still say oh snap. Really.

In the past I have always participated in Earth Hour and I am ashamed to admit that I didn't even realize it was March 31 this year. You see that also happens to be my birthday and for two months I have been planning out my special day. Because it is also the first time in 8 years that I am not pregnant or nursing on my birthday. So I am starting my day off with a hair cut and facial. Then my husband and I are going to go out for a kid-free dinner. And finally, we are going to go to the movies to see The Hunger Games!

So instead of being at home, turning off the lights and all electronics, I will be sitting in a movie theater. Oops. I feel like an awful greenie. But I want to make sure that YOU know about Earth Hour and what the mission is all about so that you can participate.

"Earth Hour is a universal message of hope and action to protect the one thing that unites us all – the planet. Together our actions add up. Join the world for Earth Hour 2012 by switching off your lights at 8.30pm on Saturday 31 March and sharing the positive action you will take for the planet beyond the hour."

By turning your lights off for just this one hour, you can help show the world how we can all come together and make a change for the future of our planet. I am a big believer in every little bit helps, even just one hour.

Will you participate in Earth Hour this Saturday?

Fore more info visit:
Twitter: @earthhour

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Star Wars Play Time

On most days you can find my children playing with something involving Star Wars. This past weekend, they put on their costumes and had some fun.

L and his Obiwan Kenobi stance.

The ultimate battle of good vs. evil.

Number 3 enters the fray, sans costume but with a ginormous lightsaber that is taller than me.

Uh-oh, Darth Vader is down!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Simple Cherry Tomato Sauce Over Pasta

I like to keep meals as simple as possible. Mainly because I don't have a whole lot of time for complicated recipes with 4 kids swarming me. Plus it is inevitable that the more blood sweat and tears that I put into a meal, the greater chance that the kids won't eat it. So easy is the way I prefer to go. This tomato sauce recipe is another one that I borrowed from my mother. It uses fresh cherry tomatoes that are cooked with just olive oil and garlic and then poured over your favorite pasta. Super easy and super yummy.

Simple Cherry Tomato Sauce Over Pasta

1 pound cooked pasta
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
1-2 TSP fresh chopped garlic
fresh basil (optional)

1. Wash tomatoes, slice in half and place in bowl. Lightly sprinkle with garlic salt and set aside.
2. Cover bottom of a large saute pan with extra-virgin olive oil and heat over medium-low heat. Add chopped garlic, 1-2 teaspoons depending on your preference. Stir constantly until golden.
3. Add in cherry tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes are fully cooked.
4. Poor over your favorite pasta and toss.
5. Garnish with fresh chopped basil.

2 pounds of sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and sprinkled with garlic salt.

Saute fresh, chopped garlic in EVOO just a few minutes until it starts to turn golden.

Stir in tomatoes and cook over medium heat. The water and juice will start to draw out of the tomatoes, creating the "sauce".

Cook for about 20 minutes or so until all of the juice has been drawn from the tomatoes. It will look like this.

Pour over your favorite pasta and toss. I used Mezze Penne - mini penne. You may garnish with fresh chopped basil. I leave that out since my kids freak out and the sight of green in their pasta.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari

While at Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World last month, we made sure we got our boys onto the Kilimanjaro Safari "ride". They loved seeing all of the animals and my husband managed to get a few cool photos along the way.

Ankole-Watusi (African Long-Horned Bull). Look at the size of those things!

White Rhino. We had to wait while her and her little one crossed in front of our vehicle.

Giraffe. I think this was their favorite animal.

Flamingos. Not as pink as I expected them to be.

Mama and baby elephants.

Finally, the unknown bird. Seems like he trying to intimidate my husband with his impressive wing span. I have no idea what the name of this guy was. Anyone out there know?

New York Islanders to Hold Fundraiser for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

If you have been following my blog for a while you probably know that I am a big hockey fan.  I love NHL hockey and I have been following the New Jersey Devils since I was about 12 years old and though I don't get to games too often these days (family of 6 = $$$$ for tickets), I do still love them. And my love for the game of hockey is already being passed down as three of our boys are playing. So when I find out about a hockey team doing something really good for the community, I want to pass that information along.

On Thursday, March 29 the New York Islanders are hosting a special fundraiser for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) as they take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh penguins at 7PM. America’s Most Wanted Host and Co-Founder of NCMEC, John Walsh will attend the game and drop the ceremonial puck. $2 from every ticket sold will go to NCMEC and if the game is a sell out, that will be $32,500 raised right there. New York Islanders owner Charles Wang has said he will match the total donation for the evening which means a sell out would raise $65,000.

In addition to ticket sales, there will be a variety of activities going on inside the Coliseum to help raise awareness and money for NCMEC’s mission of helping keep children safe. Collection tables  will be set up throughout the concourse for fans who wish to make a direct donation as well as information tables where fans cam learn more about NCMEC. There will be a 50/50 raffle where 50% of the money will go to the winner and the other 50% will go to the organization.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was established in 1984 and has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 169,840 missing children. The organization’s CyberTipline has handled more than 1,374,020 reports of child sexual exploitation and its Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 65,455,790 child pornography images and videos.

If you live on or near Long Island, attending this event is a great way to not only help raise money for this important organization, but also help raise awareness. NCMEC relies heavily on donations from the public, from people like you and me. But if people don't know about it, then they can't help. If you are unable to attend the event, then do what I am doing: spread the word! Let your friends know about it, share it on Facebook and Twitter. Reach out to everyone you know to tell them about NCMEC and what they do for our nation's children.

It is a sad reality in our world that are children abused, abducted and killed. An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year.  That is more than 2,000 children every day.  And an estimated one in five girls and one in ten boys are sexually victimized before the age of 18. As a parent, these numbers shake me to my core and represent one of my biggest fears: that someone will hurt my children.

Next Thursday I will be rooting for the New York Islanders. Not only to win their game but rooting for them to have a successful event that will benefit American children. And this mom deeply thanks them for their effort.

• Buy tickets at
New York Islanders on Facebook
@NYIslanders on Twitter
NCMEC on Facebook
• For more information about the fundraising event, please read the official Press Release.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Skip Hop Studio Tote Giveaway on ModParent

I don't know why, but I have been in a giveaway entering mode as of late. Maybe it is the onset of Spring? Or maybe its because I just like to win stuff. lol. Today I came across this giveaway on ModParent for a Skip Hop Studio Tote diaper bag and I wanted to pass it along to you all. I have been using the same old, tired diaper bag for seven years now and it is not so pleasant to look at. It would be really nice, after all this time, to win something like this which is stylish and won't stick out like a sore thumb. After all, I still have one in diapers.

(view more details on this prize)

a ModParent giveaway powered by Rafflecopter

Sears' Family & Friends Sale is Back!

With the warmer weather creeping back, it is time to get ready for Spring! With that comes yard cleanup, gardening and all of that fun (or maybe not so fun) outdoor stuff to do. As you gear up for it and start buying your supplies and tools, you may want to check out Sears this weekend for another Sears' Family & Friends Sale! Nearly everything is 10% off and Shop Your Way Rewards members will receive 15% off.

Online, the sale starts on Saturday, March 17, 8 PM CT and ends on Monday, March 19, 4 AM CT. The in-store sale is on Sunday, March 18, 6-9 PM.

What do you need to start tackling Spring cleaning around our house?

Talking to Children About Death

Well this isn't a topic I thought I would be discussing with my kids just yet. Or at least I was hoping it would take longer for it to come up. The other night, after putting all of the kids to bed, I was sitting on the couch with  my laptop (of course) and I heard a noise coming from upstairs. I walked over to the bottom of the stairs and looked up to see our seven year old standing there and looking quite upset.

"Mommy, I'm laying in bed and I can't stop thinking about when I get older I am going to die." {starts crying}

Say what? Where the heck did THAT come from? I was totally blind sided by this. I quickly made my way up the stairs to give him a hug. When I asked what made him think about it, wondering if a classmate had mentioned someone dying to him, he just said "my brain." I had no idea what to say. Not a clue. I wasn't prepared for this conversation. So I just continued to hold him and told him it was OK and not to think about it. I brought him back to his room and turned on his radio so he could fall asleep to some music. He was out shortly after.

Photo credit: prahlj from

No I did not handle it all that well. But I really had no clue what to say. I didn't want to lie and say he won't die but I didn't want to say yes you will die someday either, because that just seems way to harsh for a 7 year old. I needed to find a happy medium of the two that would calm his fears.

The next night while my husband was reading a book to him at bedtime, he brought it up again. Thankfully, my husband was much better at handling this. Daddy told him how his own grandmother lived to be 95 and that some people even live to be 100. And since he is only 7, 95 and 100 are a long time away. This really seemed to connect with him and he calmed down. Then the following conversation took place, which is both comical and well a little painful for me.

W: "But daddy, what about mommy?"
Daddy: "What do you mean, what about mommy?"
W: "Well mommy's hair is turning white."
D: "It.s OK. Mommy's had white hairs for a long time."

Nice. Really nice. So I guess my seven year old has noticed the increase in white (I prefer grey thank you very much) hairs on my head. And yes, I got my first one when I was 16. I thought they were fairly well hidden as they are mostly in my temple area and underneath a layer of brown hair. But I guess its more obvious than I thought. I'm not ready to dye my hair just yet though.

Have you had to talk to your children about death yet? How old were they and what approach did you take? I need to be better prepared for the next time he brings it up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Magic Castle Hotel #Giveaway

So far in 2012 I have done more traveling then I think I have ever done. The year started off with a few days in Detroit, then a few days in San Fransisco and then I ended February with a week in Kissimmee. All of it was a little hectic but 100% awesome. I have now been bitten by the travel bug and have become addicted. I can't wait for myself and my family to head out on the road again! I am in the process of putting together a bucket list of trips that would be good for the entire family.

Now that we have Florida and Disney under our belts, the next big trip would be getting us all to California. My visit to San Francisco earlier this year was my first time to California and I am anxious to get back and see more of the state. Particularly Hollywood! I have been told that the place to stay with family in Hollywood is The Magic Castle Hotel.

Photos of Magic Castle Hotel, Los Angeles
This photo of Magic Castle Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Located in the heart of Hollywood, Magic Castle Hotel is just footsteps away from the Walk-of-Fame and just a quick subway ride from Universal Studios theme park.Surrounded by countless attractions, you are sure to find more than enough to do for everyone in the family.

The accommodations at Magic Castle Hotel are mostly one or two bedroom suites that measure between 500 - 800 square feet and feature a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, living room and bedroom(s).In addition, all suites include a DVD Player with free movie rental, CD/Stereo and free high speed wireless Internet (a must have for this blogger). And guest at the Magic Castle Hotel are treated to free snacks!

Photos of Magic Castle Hotel, Los Angeles
This photo of Magic Castle Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor

OK granted these are not exactly healthy snacks. But it is totally OK to indulge yourself every once in a while. Especially when you are on vacation. Feel like taking a dip in the pool? While you are there you will receive white-gloved popsicle service every hour on the hour. So cool!

Currently the Magic Castle Hotel is up for the Best Family Hotel In Los Angeles Award and they sure could use your votes. If you think this looks and sounds like a fun place to stay, then head on over to give them a quick vote.

To celebrate their nomination, the Magic Castle Hotel has teamed up with me and a handful of other bloggers to run an amazing giveaway for a three night stay in a one bedroom suite! This is approximately a $640 value. Please use the Rafflcopter form below. Giveaway closes on March 21, 2012 at 12:0 am EST.

This giveaway is sponsored by the Magic Castle Hotel. All thoughts are my own. Please note that the prize is for a hotel stay only and does NOT include food, airfare or any other travel expenses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Spring is on the Way!

Yesterday afternoon when I brought the twins out to get on the bus, I noticed a little green sticking out of the soil in my flower bed. My hyacinths are starting grow! I can't wait for them to bloom and I can;t wait for Spring!

Is anything starting to grow in your neck of the woods?

K'NEX Building Sets Review

Our seven year old loves any and all types of building sets. And that is the understatement of the year. It is actually becoming a problem as Star Wars LEGOs have taken over his small room. I'm on the hunt for an inexpensive and easy way to display them all. He recently had an opportunity to try out a few building sets from K'NEX and they were a hit!

K'NEX is the next generation of construction sets. It inspires creativity, builds self-confidence and encourages interaction among children and parents. The possibilities are endless!

K'NEX offers a variety of products covering multiple age ranges. We received several sets from the Top Gear and Extreme Opps lines that are all marked Ages 7+. So they were perfect for my son who just turned seven in February. The Extreme Opps sets are smaller sets of about 50 to 80 pieces. He was able to build these all on his own without any help from myself or my husband. That is a big plus for us. While we do enjoy helping him build, sometimes its nice for him to be able to go in his room and play quietly by  himself for a little bit. Most importantly, he had such a sense of pride that he finished these all on his own. As you can see, these are pretty cool looking. He loves all of the moving parts.

Next up are some of the vehicle sets from the Top Gear line. These sets are much larger with a range of about a40 to 200 pieces. These provide a little more challenge to put together. Our son started these on his own and finished most of them by himself. I would say that 90% of each set he built. He just needed some help with the finishing touches, which my husband gladly did with him. The first one is pretty cool since it has two vehicles. The car is pulling a trailer with motorcycle. The motor cycle detaches so you can play with it. It is pretty awesome actually.

The one and only con that I have about K'NEX is sometimes the pieces do not stay together well. For example while trying to add another brick to an assembly, I sometimes found that the assembly kept coming apart. It takes a little bit of work to get everything snapped together securely. Regardless of that minor issue, my son absolutely loved these and that, for me, is the most important part.

What I also love about K'NEX products is that most of their parts are made right here in the USA. This is something that is very important to many US consumers. It is nice to know that your purchase of a fun toy for your child is helping to support jobs right here in the US.

K'NEX building sets may be purchased at Toys R Us and other toy retailers or direct online at the K'NEX Shop.

Stay Connected
K'NEX on Facebook
@KNEX on Twitter

Please note that the opinions and views expressed in this review are my own and based on my personal experience with the product and/or company. You may encounter a different experience with this than I did. I received free product to review.

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