Monthly Subscription Boxes

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subscription boxes

Have I been living under a rock? I have never heard of subscription boxes and now I am a stalker and an addict. Have you been under a rock and you don’t know that which I speak of?

Monthly Subscription Boxes are a subscription, must like a magazine. But instead of getting a bunch of pages of advertising, you get little treats delivered to your mailbox! There are dozens of Monthly Subscription boxes, including high end makeup brands, drugstore and indie makeup, hair products, complete outfits, craft boxes for kids, boxes for your pets, meals in a box and even fun boxes for adult adventures.

As far as I can tell, it started with BirchBox.com This company sends out a variety of high end cosmetics, skin care, and lifestyle products. In one month, you might get a foil packet of a new moisturizer, a great pair of socks, a fully size dry shampoo and a little notebook. It’s an interesting mix of products and for only $10 per month, what have you got to loose?

The first box I’ve subscribed to is Ipsy. Ipsy is also only $10 per month and it will introduce you to all sorts of new makeup products. Nearly everything they send is make-up related, often with full-sized products. Some brands you’ve probably heard of, others you haven’t

I’ll be reviewing my Ipsy bag soon, but here’s what I got:

Ipsy Bag

A very colorful lip balm, fantastic mascara, a purple eye shadow, a kohl eye liner and a nude lipstick. It’s a whole look in a single bag! If you want to sign up, please use my link.

The other Monthly Subscription Box I’ve signed up for, but haven’t yet received, is the PopSugar Must Have Box. It’s a bit more expensive, at $35 per month, but it has “lifestyle” items. You might find a scarf, jewelry, specialty foods, teas, a cute notebook, sunscreen or a cute toucan shaped bottle opener.  If you use this code REFER5 you’ll get $5 off your first order. As soon as I get this box, I’ll review it and let you know all about it and here’s the September box to get you drooling:

PopSugar

There are tons of other monthly beauty boxes. As I review them, I’ll let you know all about it!


facebook and family

Facebook and Family – 1 Rule and 10 Guidelines for Your Teen on Facebook

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facebook and family

 

Do kids and Facebook mix? Should you allow your child to be on Facebook? Is your child already on Facebook and you don’t even know it? No matter how you look at it, Facebook and Family intersect, especially with a teen in the house.

Facebook Rules

First of all, Facebook has some very specific rules regarding kids. Here’s the big one:

How old do you have to be to sign up for Facebook?

In order to be eligible to sign up for Facebook, you must be at least 13 years old.

According to Facebook Rules, I wouldn’t set up an account for a child under 13. Not only is it a rule, I think 13 is an appropriate age when kids are very social, but able to *mostly* understand the implications and consequences of social networks like Facebook.

A family I know held fast to this rule, and opening a Facebook page was the best birthday present their 13 year old daughter ever received!

Facebook Guidelines

Every family should have some guidelines for Facebook. Carefully consider guidelines that work for your family, and especially your child. You might consider writing up your guidelines as a contract, with spots for parents and kids to sign. Pick and choose what you like, but here’s what I would recommend:

Parents Have the Password

You have complete access to every nook and cranny of your child’s Facebook account. You must have the password so you can check it at any time. Make sure your kid knows you’ll periodically be checking in. Then actually check in and let your child know what you saw. Do not save this for a time when you suspect something is wrong, make it a part of your weekly or monthly routine. Better yet, make it random and unexpected.

Your Kid is Responsible for What’s on Their Timeline

Your child is responsible for what he or she posts, of course, but they are also responsible for what appears on their Timeline. If a friend posts something icky, they just need to hover over the post and a small arrow will appear on the right-hand side of the post. Click on that and a drop-down menu appears. Click “Hide…” From there, you can hide the post, that specific friend, or the app the post comes from. Perhaps you can have a family rule that if a friend creates inappropriate posts more than 3 times (or whatever), they must be unfriended.

Include Parents on Every Friend List

On Facebook, users can have multiple Friend Lists. You can have a list for close friends, work friends, friends from your hometown, kids on your soccer team, students in your biology class, etc. You can have all sort of friends lists. When you create a post or put up a picture, you can select which friend list(s) to sent it to. You can also exclude users. As a parent, you must be on every friend list they have. Period.

Facebook is Forever

Whatever is posted on Facebook (or a blog, or Twitter) is Forever. You might delete a post, but it’s already on Friends’ Timelines. It’s out there.

A good way to show this is to get out a paper plate and a tube of toothpaste. Have them squeeze out a couple inches of toothpaste. Explain that the toothpaste represents Facebook posts. Now tell them one of those posts was a rude comment about a teacher, or a mean comment about a friend, or an embarrassing picture. Let them attempt to get the toothpaste back in the tube. They might be able to get some of it back in there, but it’s impossible to put it all back. That’s just like Facebook. You can even use this as a code word if your child is considering something that might be inflammatory. “Is that a toothpaste comment?”

Facebook and Your Future

One impact of the “Facebook is Forever” is that fact that Facebook can have an impact on your future. Help your child consider who might look at their Facebook posts in the future… employers, colleges, spouses, in-laws…children! Will your teen totally understand this concept? Probably not…looking deep into the future is not generally the forte of the young.

Restrict What You Share

Remind your child that no matter what sort of security settings you set up, the change of Facebook information getting “out there” is very real. Never, ever, ever give out your address, phone number, or school. You might want to be cautious about sharing your hometown. Someone could use this information to track them down, to advertise to them, or just to scam them.

Friends Must Be Friends IRL (In Real Life)

A Facebook Friend count can be a powerful tool! Teens might accept Friend request from anyone, just to add to their number. Make a solid rule that any Facebook Friends must be Friend In Real Life (IRL).

Set Privacy Together

I’m not even going to go over all the privacy setting here, because it’s very extensive and it changes all the time. Just do a quick Google search for “Facebook Privacy Settings.” Just make sure what you are looking at is recent.

Set Consequences if Rules are Broken

As part of your guidelines, I highly recommend consequences if any of these rules are broken…starting with restricting Facebook use. A friend of mine even created a post on her daughter’s timeline explaining what rule she broke and how long she would be off Facebook. Smart!

Don’t Parent Online

I suppose this is kind of contrary to the guideline above, but don’t parent online. Don’t remind your kids they have shores to complete, or remind them a post isn’t appropriate while on Facebook. Talk to them offline, or in real life, about issues.

The information in this post is accurate at the time written. Facebook changes often!


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Interactive Fairytale App Review-Giant Cake

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Giant Cake is an interactive storybook iPad app featuring the Elfishki folks: Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends of Elfishki. This app has the option of listening to the story or reading the story. It’s totally original with lovely illustrations. There are 3 comprehension questions on every page. In addition, each page has some sort of interactive feature. For example, if you touch the cherub, he shoots his arrow.  Some pages have more features than others. The favorite feature of both my daughters (ages 5 and 7) was the cake decorating app. A three layer cake is shown and the child can select different elements, such as icing, cookies, bats and hot peppers (don’t worry, the variety will make sense once you read the story). The point of the story is to show that even if two people are very different, then can still become friends, learn to help each other and that good things can be done in different ways.
Here’s a youtube video to check out:

Cons
-some of the questions were not worded well, so I needed to ask it in a different way
-there was no answer key…most of the questions are open-ended and can have a variety of answers, but for some, there is a specific answer
-fewer and fewer interactions as the story goes on, almost like the tech team spent lots of time on the first few pages, then rushed through the last few pages to meet a deadline
-the book left some unanswered questions-what did Elfizz mold from chocolate?
-the font is a little tricky for newer readers
-this didn’t really show teamwork, friendship, or compromise. *spoiler* In the end, both characters decorate a side of thecake in their own way, as if they still hate each other
Pros
-my 5-year-old loved listening to the story and all the interactions
-my 7-year-old enjoyed reading the fairytale
-both loved the cake decorating game and especially that they could email a picture of the finished product
-both girls have asked for this app over and over again…hey, maybe they should be the ones reviewing apps!
Feel free to check out Giant Cake in the iTunes Store.
Overall
It’s 3 bucks, less than a fancy Starbucks drink. Your kids will likely be entertained. It’s appropriate for both genders.
However, with thousands of free apps, I don’t know that I would buy it. I would likely recommend the Story Chimes instead. Story Chimes are familiar fairy tales instead of new ones and it doesn’t have questions, but a parent could easily come up with some as they read the story with their child.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.


Would You Like to Waste Less?

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Tom Watson

Tom Watson

I am so delighted to be a part of the Glad Waste Less Program! A group of bloggers in King County has the opportunity to try out some new Glad products and work on ways to reduce waste. Part of the program is a visit with Tom Watson, who runs the eco-consumer division of King County, in Washington State.  He writes columns for Seattle Times and also has appearances on KOMO 4 News.

Before I met Tom, I was nervous. I’m a mother of two. I work full time. Life is hectic. Was he going to tell me I needed to eat from bamboo plates when away from home? That I should always drink Starbucks from an aluminum thermos with a crocheted cozy made from organic, up-cycled wool? These ideas come from a relative of mine who does these things and would rather die than drink Starbucks. I don’t ever think he’ll read my blog, but just in case…Hi There, Uncle Cousin Guy!

Meeting Tom was a relief. He talked about Green Guilt and some of the marital problems that arise when couples have different eco-ideals. I love this guy!!! His basic message is that we can all reduce our waste, but it needs to fit in our lifestyle.

The Mouthy Family already recycles, but we need to help our children learn what can be recycled and what is just garbage. Tom printed off a handy list from my city about what can and cannot be recycled. While not nearly as extensive as Seattle, it had been updated and I was surprised about what can now be recycled. Tom also suggested we get our girls involved in recycling. Perhaps they can draw a recycle symbol to remind them to recycle when possible. I might even have my oldest daughter make a poster to remind us ALL of what can be recycled!

As for Green Guilt, which I think Tom should trademark, he said you can only do what you can do. If each of us picked up a few new habits each year, waste would be reduced dramatically. For example, in our neighborhood, all of us dump our grass in the open field across the street and take our limbs to the end of the road. Because of this, we don’t have a yard waste container. Lots of our family waste could be put in yard waste. However, Tom noted we have chickens and worm bins, which can take care of a fair amount of our waste. You do what you can do.

Tom and I also discussed composting. Every time I’ve looked into composting, I have two concerns. The bins are expensive and composting itself seems very complicated…a certain percentage of brown to green, high heat to kill everything bad, turning it all the time…too much work! Tom pointed out that he only turns his compost 3 or 4 times per year! That doesn’t sound too hard. He also suggested using pallets tied together (well, a bit more difficult, but pretty darn easy and cheap) to create a compost bin. He even pointed out a nice out-of-the-way corner to put it! I’m really excited to try this out. I even know a place to pick up free pallets!

I’m excited to see how my family and I can work on reducing our waste. A huge thank you to Tom Watson and the Glad Waste Less program. Be on the lookout for future posts about our progress and about the cool Glad products we’re using.


Around-the-Town Reviews-4 Reasons I Love Dr. Jon Holmberg

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toothbrush

Need a Good Dentist? Dr. Jon is Your Man! 4 Reasons I Love My Dentist

You know what I love even more than a root canal? Shopping for a dentist. A few years ago, my regular dentist was out of town for 2 weeks. I needed a crown and I couldn’t wait. I called nearly every dentist in Enumclaw, asking for the price of a crown. Those who couldn’t give me a straight answer were crossed off my list. It just seems fishy. Those who couldn’t get me in within the next few days were also off my list. I don’t like to book appointments weeks in advance. Once I had the list narrowed down, I made an appointment with the least expensive one. Did I mention I had cruddy dental insurance?

What a happy encounter! That first appointment with Dr. Jon Holmberg was a delight. No, seriously.

  1.  My favorite feature is that Dr. Jon actually cleans your teeth. In previous offices, a dental hygienist would clean my teeth, take the x-rays, and the actual dentist would pop in for a total of 1.7 minutes, if I was lucky.
  2. I never get the feeling that he’s out to take my money. Let’s face it…for most of us, if the dentist says you need a filling, you get a filling. I have no home test to see if I actually need a filling, I just go with it. With Dr. Jon, he’ll tell you exactly what you need done. He’ll also tell you what we can watch and wait on.
  3. When my daughters were ready to see a dentist, Dr. Jon and his staff did an excellent job. For our most recent 6 month check up, when the hygienist asked who’d like to come back first, my girls were literally jumping up and down shouting, “Me! Me!” Can you believe it?
  4. His staff is phenomenal. Now I have lovely dental insurance. His staff takes care of everything with ease. If there’s a blip in coverage or anything, it’s taken care of very quickly. Plus, when I’m getting a cleaning, they keep an eye on my girls. What dentist office offers that?

Dr. Jon Holberg’s office is in a charming older house right down the street from the Enumclaw Police Station. Call 360-825-2081 for an appointment. Tell him Miss Mouthy sent you!


Book Review-Beside Still Waters

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beside-still-waters-150

I love Tricia Goyer. I just had to get that out there. Pretty much anything she writes, I love. Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, or a comic strip, I’ll love it. Beside Still Waters is no different. In true Tricia Goyer style, every aspect and detail is well researched and seamlessly woven into the story.  I guarantee you will learn something new about the Amish lifestyle!

The book starts in the heart of Amish country. Nineteen year old Marianna Sommer seems to know just where her life is headed…right down the path laid out for her by her parents and her community. All that changes where her father announces he is moving the family to another Amish community in Montana. Marianna believes her world is shattered. She agrees to head out to Montana to help her mother care for the family for a year, then she plans to move back and follow her plan.

When Marianna arrives in Montana, she is in for a world of surprises! Though this community is Amish in name, it is very different from where she grew up, and where she was planning to return. This leaves Marianna questioning everything. For the first time, she has choices! The new community is less strict…is that good? Is it bad? Marianna Sommers, who knew who she was from day one, now has so many questions with no easy answers.

I loved this enchanting story. The characters are rich and deep. The storyline is masterfully woven with unexpected twists and turns. One of my favorite elements of the story is that while Marianna questions the roots of her faith and their implications now, the Amish faith is never “bashed” or belittled in any way.

Tricia is hosting a book giveaway on her blog: http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/2011/04/beside-still-waters-giveaway.html. You can win a book or an adorable Amish salt & pepper shakers! So cute!

About Beside Still Waters Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of the first book in the Big Sky Amish series Tricia is giving away 10 copies of Beside Still Waters and a pair of super cute antique Amish salt & pepper shakers. (photo attached)

Details at Tricia’s blog, It’s Real Life.

About Tricia: Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Songbird Under a German Moon*, The Swiss Courier*, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough*. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted* was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. Visit www.triciagoyer.com for more info.

 *Miss Mouthy read this book!

About Beside Still Waters: Marianna Sommer believes she knows where her life is headed. Nineteen years old and Amish, her plan is to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and live in the only community she’s ever known.

When Marianna’s family moves from Indiana to Montana she discovers life and faith will never be the same. As she builds an easy friendship with local guy, Ben Stone, Ben not only draws her heart, he also gets her thinking about what loving God and living in community is all about.

As Marianna struggles to find “home”, she also encounters God in intimate ways. Click here to watch the book trailers.

Click here to buy the book.

Check out what other bloggers are saying about Beside Still Waters.

 Just so you know: LitFuse Publicity Group provided me a copy of this book in exchange for a review. The opinion is my own.


Product Review-PackIt

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Do you ever have one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments? You see a great idea and it’s not some out-of-this-world thing, it’s a strong, basic concept that will be useful long-term and to a wide audience.

PackIt

That’s what I found in the PackIt. It’s a freezable lunch bag! So simple, yet so useful! My husband packed his lunch in it last week. He was able to keep his lunch on his desk and by the time he ate it, about 6 hours later, it was still well chilled! That never happens!

packitdirections

Its interior can be wiped clean with a wash cloth. It freezes when it’s folded, so it doesn’t take up much room in the freezer, plus it’s one less item of clutter in the freezer. It has a roomy interior so it can hold a full lunch, yet it’s not so large as to be unwieldy for kids. You can also put in room-temperature foods and the PackIt will chill it. Wowza!

packitpolka

NEWSFLASH-I just found out the PackIt is TSA approved!! I’m leaving on a trip in a couple of weeks and while I’ll be traveling all day, my flights are short and no food is available. Packing a lunch or buying something at the airport are the only options. The PackIt will be a life saver on this journey!

I love the PackIt so much I really want to write a raving, glamorous review. But it isn’t “that kind” of product. It’s in ingenious workhorse that should be in every household…really one per person! I can’t fathom why you’d buy any other kind of lunchbox…unless it is a Wonder Woman aluminum number, but that’s just more for looks.

Grab a PackIt or two…or one in every color!


Groupon Buyers Beware

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UPDATE-Groupon refused to honor their error. I don’t believe it was done intentionally, but I still believe they should have honored what was originally posted. Groupon did give us a refund.

Long story short, Groupon CHANGED the deal after I made a purchase. Want more details? Read on…

On December 11th I purchased a Groupon for 6 people to take a 2 hour snowmobile adventure. On the Groupon it said “they will take you to the trailhead.” The map showed the address as the Safeway in a nearby town where the company would pick you up, drive you over a snowy pass and deliver you to the trailhead. When I made my reservation a few weeks ago, the confirmation from the company mentioned a $30 per person fee for transportation over Snoqualmie Pass and to the trailhead. I re-checked the Groupon, the fine print, etc. and there was no mention of this. I emailed the company to confirm that they would indeed pick us up in the town shown and the map and I pointed out what the Groupon said. I didn’t hear anything back. On Tuesday I was going to print off a copy of the Groupon to fax to the company to ensure our ride.

 At that time I saw Groupon had CHANGED THE DEAL after 2136 people had made the purchase.

Here’s the original deal. I wish I could get the picture to show up here, but here is the text:

The Company
Action Adventures

Locations
Safeway at North Bend Outlet Mall
460 SW Mt. Si Blvd.
North Bend, Washington 98045
Get Directions
Until mankind first stepped outside in 1934, nature was thought to be a fanciful myth, like yogurt or the clutch hitter. Spend a few hours frolicking through the fresh air of truth with today’s Groupon for a guided snowmobile tour of the Cascade Mountains from Action Adventures. Choose between two tour options:
For $59, you get a guided day tour (a $125 value).
For $89, you get a guided moonlight tour (a $195 value).
Groupon buyers can upgrade to a more expensive tour for an additional fee and will also receive 10% off their next adventure.
Action Adventures is an adrenaline-pumping tour company that accommodates both romantic interludes and thrilling quests with snowmobiles, ATVs, and horseback riding. During a guided snowmobile tour, outdoor explorers get to cruise for two hours through the Snoqualmie Pass area’s 100 miles of winding trails. After watching a quick safety instructional video, Action Adventures will transport you to the trailhead. The company’s guileless guides are expert riders skilled at reading the mountain, weather, and the Farmers’ Almanac. They’ll keep each rider safe during a day of ridge-rocketing and outracing avalanches. And few activities other than honeymooning with The Flash combine magical romance with exhilarating speed like snowmobiling by moonlight. Both tours will warm winter-whipped bones with a tasty hot beverage afterward.
Action Adventures outfits all riders with a sled and all the cold weather gear a freshly sheared polar bear could ever need, including snow pants, jacket, gloves, helmet, and goggles.
Weekends fill up quickly, so plan ahead when making your reservation.

  Doesn’t that make it sound like transportation is included? And believe me, I clicked on every link, I read through the fine print. It was NOT LISTED.

Now it says in at least 3 places that there is a $30 fee and it shows two locations on the map, one where you can pay to get a ride over the pass and one where you can drive yourself. In addition, if you would like to purchase optional insurance, it’s $50 per person. This also was not disclosed on the original Groupon.

When I contacted Groupon they said they were sorry for the confusion. WHAT? That’s not confusion, that’s fraud! Here’s part of their email:

Really very sorry for the confusion. We are aware of the situation and are in the midst of sending out an announcement to clarify what is going on with the $30 fee for the transportation.

Now, here I sit 60 hours away from this snowmobile adventure with no response from Groupon. I contacted the company and they said it was Groupon’s fault. Fine. Then Groupon ought to pay for the ride to the trailhead.

What do you think? Am I justifiably angry or is this just a little error?


Children’s Product Review: Zingo Board Game

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One of the most popular Christmas presents my girls received was Zingo. It’s tagline says, “Bingo with a Zing!”

Each player gets a Zingo card with 9 simple pictures. Each picture also has the matching word. When everyone is ready, use the “Zinger” to bring forward two picture tiles. If that matches a spot on your card, be the first to shout out the word and you get the tile. The first player to get blackout yells “Zingo” and wins.

Pretty simple. One feature I really like is one side has just a little competition for each tile. The other side of the card has more competition for each tile, meaning the same word shows up on lots of cards. When we’ve played, it usually ends up a matter of luck to determine the winner. This works so well because my older daughter can almost always grab the tile before my younger one. This evens the playing field. It also helps the whole “do I let my child win” dilemma. It’s often out of your hands.

The game goes quickly so there are lots of chances to be the winner. An entire round takes about 5 minutes. It’s really simple with no complicated rules. Our entire family has enjoyed it. There are also several bilingual versions including Spanish, French and Hebrew.

The game manufacturers say this game can help with image and vocabulary recognition, matching, memory, concentration, and social interaction. I suppose that’s true. However, the biggest benefit I see is having a game we can all play together.

I’m planning to stock up on these. The price is right and  it is the perfect unisex birthday gift to have stashed away in your gift closet!