Friday, September 30, 2011

Go Green Giveaway Event Sponsor Spotlight: Gween Toys

Little boys love to build.  They'll build with anything...blocks, sticks, green beans, mud balls...they don't care as long as it's stackable.  My boys are no exception to this rule.  In fact, Stinky is an especially avid builder.  He loves piling things one on top of another!

Stinky's very favorite things to stack right now are Gwomies by Gween Toys!  Never heard of them?  You have now! 

Gween Toys is an amazing company that is a really neat company that specializes in innovative children's toys that promote education, entertainment, and eco-friendliness.  With toys ages 2-3 and 3-5, there's something perfect for each of your toddlers and preschoolers!  Not only will each of the toys you purchase from Gween Toys have some learning component, it will be able to be used in many different ways and it'll be hand made from wood and colored with natural dyes!  There's nothing better than beautiful, sustainable toys for our little ones!

Let me show you why you'll love Gwomies (and so will your little one):

When you take that pretty white wrapper off the box, you'll find this:

an adorable coloring page that your 4 year old will fall in love with and carry around for hours.  Then, inside the box you'll find these:

20 beautiful, stackable "blocks" of various shapes, some with holes in the bottom, some without.  Some with posts coming out of the tops, some without.  They're gorgeous.  They're smooth as can be.  I want to sit down and build, and I'm a grown up.  My baby boy?  Well, I suppose he's not a baby anymore, but he'll sit for a full 30 minutes THIRTY MINUTES stacking and unstacking and restacking these blocks!

Yes, Stinky runs around in just a diaper most of the time.  You can't get much more natural than that, can you?  I love that not only does my 19 month old love Gwomies (I know, I know...they say 2+...but why can't a 1 year old build?), my 4 year old AND 6 year old love them as well!

Check out that tongue!  Bugsy is REALLY concentrating!  I also love that, somehow, Gwomies promote cooperative play--at least in my kids!  They're stacking and learning together!

(Also, they're giggling, not fighting.  That's always a plus!)
The most unfortunate thing about Gwomies by Gween Toys is that the box isn't very sturdy, so I'll be finding a different storage container.  Is that a big deal?  No.  Does it effect the quality, the purpose, or the function of the toys?  Absolutely NOT!  

Gwomies by Gween Toys.  Amazing.  Simple.  Beautiful. 

Check out Gween Toys at their website, on facebook, and on twitter!  (Feel free to tell them I sent you.  It won't help you win anything, but it's always nice to know where you're getting your traffic!)  And be prepared.  Next week, you'll have the chance to win a set of your very own right here on My This N That Life!

Want an extra enty into the Go Green Giveaway Event (on My This N That Life only)?  Leave a comment here telling me which Gween Toy you'd like to own and who would play with it!

This product was provided to me at no cost in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Swimsuits for fall? Swimsuitsforall!!

You all are going to think I'm crazy, but I just bought a swimsuit from October...just as the weather is starting to get cool.  I hadn't heard of the site before today, but they have a great selection that is fun to browse, at the very least!

The only reason I think I'm crazy because I truly have NO idea what size swimsuit I'll wear next summer...well, that and that I never put a swimsuit on once this entire summer.  Why do I think almost October is the perfect time to buy a swimsuit, though?  Because in the fall, companies put swimsuits on clearance so they can clear out this year's inventory and get ready for next year!  I haven't purchased a new swimsuit in several years, and it was certainly time!  I only ever buy swimsuits when mine wear out or I can't fit into them anymore, so I hang onto them for several years.  This year?  This year I've lost 40 pounds and my old suits just plain don't fit anymore!

Even though the "regular" prices seem a bit high to me, the sale prices are SUPER!  There's a 10% off code right there on the front page, which will save you a couple of bucks.  If you sign up for their email list, you can save 10% off your first purchase as well!  I couldn't get both codes to work together, but you may be able to.  You'll even get a confirmation that your discounts were added!

I'm probably not alone in this, but when I am shopping online I go straight to the "sale" section.  (It's not exclusive to online, either.  I do it in stores as well.  What can I say?  I love a good clearance rack!) has a HUGE amount of sale suits right now!  Some of them are gigantic discounts...even as much as 50-75% off! is a really nice online swimsuit shop specializing in suits for "plus sizes" which start, at this shop anyway, with size 8!  Now, I am currently in a 10 or baggy 12 for most of my clothes.  I don't consider myself to be "plus sized" anymore, and I certainly don't consider an 8 to be plus size. has suits organized by both "type" and size, so you can go straight to the page of the style you're shopping for!  Not sure what size you should buy?  There's an easy sizing guide that gives you the option to check each brand's sizing chart OR search by "general" sizes!

I'm a tankini lover.  I like the look of a one piece, but the convenience of two.  I'm not a bikini person.  I like to leave some things to the imagination, even when I'm in a swimsuit.  But when I'm at the beach or the pool or wherever, I like to be able to potty easily.  When I've been a nursing mama at the beach, tankinis have been a super easy solution as well!  So, after quickly browsing the rest of the site, I found myself scouring the tanking section for my top choices.  There were so many to choose from, it was almost impossible to pick just one!

Do I go for something a little on the wild side?

Or something more subdued?

Do I pick bikini bottoms?

Or "skirtini" bottoms?

Or a halter?

Or do I just forget about it and get a one piece?

I was having trouble deciding between a couple, so I sent the links to my sister for help...and I asked Bugsy what he thought.  I didn't listen to either of their opinions.  I finally picked a skirtini with straps...relatively subdued.  I won't receive it for a few days, but if it's like the picture, I'm in love!  (Although I think the model is making kind of a funny face.)

I really loved that I could check the "fit tips" and be sure that the swimsuit I loved would hide the parts that need to be hidden and accentuate the parts I don't mind.  (See them up there on the pic?)

And then I checked out.

Checkout with is super easy and user friendly.  I was disappointed by two things, though: 1) my suit won't be here until around Oct 10 ($5.95 shipping for the slowest option seemed a little high to me, but it was my best option) so you won't get to see it until then - and neither will I! and 2) I couldn't checkout with Paypal!  I had money in my account I was hoping to use.  Instead, I used my debit card and then transferred the money from Paypal to the bank, but I just LOVE being able to shop with Paypal!

Oh, and you get a nice printable confirmation page as well!

Shopping was a nice, easy process.  There were a lot of suits (and other accessories) to choose from, and I loved so many of the styles!  The regular prices of most of the suits were out of my budget, but the sale prices were great, even compared with department store prices.  The suits look to be a good quality.  Since there are so many brands, styles, and sizes to choose from, there is sure to be something with which you'll fall in love!

“This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias All opinions are strictly my own.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My sweet boy

We were sitting in the pickup line waiting for Little Lou.  We typically arrive at 2:25 or 2:30 and school lets out at 2:45.  The kids look at books or watch a movie while I read a book during that time.  It's kind of our "quiet time" each day.

Typically Bugsy is a bit noisy during this time, kicking his feet, drumming on the walls, singing songs, etc.  This is about his only loud time of the day.  Except this time.  This time, he sat pensively for nearly five minutes, and then started giggling out loud.  I asked him what was so funny.  He said the most amazing thing to me.

"It's not funny, mommy.  It's awesome.  I was just thinking about Jesus and imagining what it's going to be like to go to Heaven.  I'm just so excited about that it made me laugh!"

Faith like a child, friends.  Faith like a child.  Oh, to be so giddy with joy at just the THOUGHT of Jesus or Heaven that I would laugh out loud!

Dear Jesus, forgive me for the days I don't gasp in wonder at who you are!  I love you desperately!  Please Jesus, help me to be more like my little Bug.

Accept no substitutes!

I like substitutes.

Let's face it...substitute teachers are often "better" than the real thing.  They don't know the rules, they don't know your name, and they give you lots of "busy work" rather than "real" work.  (Sometimes they even show movies!)

Substitute medicines?  You know...generics?  They're typically just as good (or almost as good) as the real thing, but for way less money!  Sometimes they're even made by the same company as the name brand medicines.  It's true.

We even substitute foods!  Can't eat eggs?  Use applesauce in baked goods!  Don't have red wine vinegar?  I understand you can use balsamic vinegar instead.  Don't have graham crackers to dip into your chocolate chip cookie dough dip?  Use a spoon!!

See?  Sometimes substitutes are great.  Sometimes they're even necessary!

Last week, though, we made these for lunch:

Cool, right?  The kids loved that they got to "cook" these themselves.  It was super simple to let them stab their hotdogs with linguine noodles.

I know you're wondering what this has to do with substitutes.  But you see, my sister thought she'd have her boys make these fun hotdog octopi for lunch on the same day.  She wasn't at home when we discussed it, but she told my nephew they'd be having a fun lunch that day.  She got home and discovered that they had NO noodles!  A mutual friend (who didn't know what recipe my sister was making, only that she lacked the spaghetti to do it) suggested she use spaghetti squash as a substitute.

Friends, you can't thread spaghetti squash through a hotdog.  It just won't work!  In fact, I can't think of very many things that are 1) edible 2) hard enough to slide through a hotdog and 3) thin enough that several can go into the same hotdog!  There simply isn't a substitute for the noodles in these hotdog octopi!


I have a feeling this is exactly what God was talking about when he said, "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." Exodus 20:4-6, NASB

What?!?  When God said those words he was talking about hotdogs and spaghetti?!?  Not exactly...or at least not for me.

I think God was saying (besides the obvious "don't build statues and worship them"), "Don't let a cheeseburger take my place!  Exercise?  It's a great stress reliever, but don't count on it to cure your troubles!  Don't get so wrapped up in it that you forget to run to me!  The mall is a fun place, but don't rely on your "retail therapy" to fix anything.  It might for a minute, but it can't really comfort you.  Pizza, Baseball, Facebook, Pinterest (ouch!), New Cars, New Clothes, Men, Women, Television...they all have their place.  But they are not more important than me and they can't take my place.  They don't have the qualities I have!  They can't be everything to you the way I can, and they SHOULDN'T be!!"

Accept no substitutes!

Did you know that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever?"  Hebrews 13:8.  That means He's going to last a lot longer than those french fries you're thinking about putting in your belly to try and soothe yourself.  It means He WAS THERE when whatever it was caused you the pain you're feeling.  He IS THERE now.  And He WILL BE THERE to see you through to the finish line!  No one and nothing else can claim that, and if they (it) try, it's a LIE!  

So there it is.  My sermon of the day.  Put down your computer, your hotdog, your remote control...whatever it is that you are using to comfort you, to heal you, to pacify you...and pick up your Bible.  Put on your reading glasses, grab a pencil and a pad of paper, and allow God to speak to you.  HE can help you.  He can heal you.  HE can fix your damaged wings.  He's the ONLY one that can.

Accept no substitutes!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's just around the corner! Wholesale Costume Club Review

It's coming.  Soon.  I know because there are all sorts of dancing mummies, witches, and skeletons in our local stores.  There's candy EVERYWHERE and giant blow up spooky "stuff" at every corner.  I know because Bugsy is singing this song every time we go to the store:

"Yay, yay, I love Halloween!  I love it because I love to eat CAAAAAAANDY!"

Except he doesn't.  And he won't.  (He doesn't eat sweets.  He doesn't like them.)  We'll carve pumpkins.  (We may even get them from a pumpkin patch!) We'll do the whole Halloween Costume thing and we'll go trick-or treating.   We'll bring home a plethora of candy in every shape, size, and flavor.  We'll sort through the candy, pick out the "good" stuff, put it all in one bowl, and put it in the cabinet.  We'll give the kids candies for rewards for a couple weeks, then we'll all forget about it.  Come Easter, we'll throw away the extra, in favor of jelly beans and creme eggs (yum).

For our kids, though, it's not about eating the candy, at least not too much.  Nope.  They love the part where they get to dress up in fancy costumes and parade around the neighborhood!  That's their favorite thing.  We'll go to a neighborhood near Little Lou's school so she can (hopefully) see some of her friends.  She thinks that's awesome.  And when she does see them, she'll be showing off her Juliet costume from Wholesale Costume Club!  He recently visited a somewhat local Renaissance Festival, and Little Lou was super excited to look at the Renaissance Costumes on the site!

(This is the catalog image.)
Little Lou was SO excited to receive her costume, she couldn't wait to put it on!  Here she is, modeling her fancy new "Renaissance Princess" dress:

Little Lou loves her new costume!  I love that the quality is decent (this particular costume is the type you'd get at a box store in the plastic wrapper) and the prices are good.  The fabric of this dress is soft but not super high quality...but then you wouldn't expect it to be "real" velvet for $21.98!  (This costume is just $15.96 if you're a "club member"...and it's only $5 to become a member.  If you have more than one costume to buy it is WELL worth it!

There are so many adorable costumes, you'll have trouble choosing the perfect one! Here are a couple of my favorites:

And SOOO many more!  If you have children (or grown ups!) in your house that need costumes this Halloween season (and I KNOW you do!) be sure to check out the Halloween Costumes at Wholesale Costume Club!

I received this product at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Give it Away Friday: Safe to Grow Chair Locks

If you are one, you know it.  You know what I mean.  You can't leave the room, even for a minute.  You can't turn your back.  You can't even THINK about closing your eyes!

Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and I'm mommy to a climber.

I must have been lucky with Little Lou and Bugsy.  Neither of them were climbers, and I'll admit that I secretly couldn't believe the things that "those moms" let their kids do!  And then Stinky started walking (at 15 months).  He wasn't a super great walker at first - none of them are - so I didn't worry too much about where I'd find him.  He wasn't fast.  And then one day, when he'd been walking about a week (a WEEK!) I came out of the bathroom and found him standing on the computer desk, one foot on the monitor.  EEEEEK!  I removed him, and a day or so later, I accidentally turned my back on him for 4 seconds and found him standing on the kitchen table!  A few days later, he'd pushed a chair over and was standing on the kitchen counter!  

We had a huge problem.  Stinky had grown fond of the kitchen chairs, knowing he could scoot them around to get where he wanted to be.  I began searching for a solution.  There HAD to be something out there that would keep my curious little fellow off the table, right?  I am SO grateful to Danielle from Happenings of the Harper Household for finding Safe To Grow chair locks!

The Scoop 

Safe to Grow chair locks were created by a mom and dad team who were concerned about the statistically high number of kitchen injuries.  They sought to create a product that would make the kitchen as safer place by preventing chairs from being moved to be used as a climbing platform.  Their successful invention is the patent-pending Chair Lock, which secures to the table and chairs!

Since we have 6 kitchen chairs, Safe to Grow sent me two sets of chair locks to review!

The Good

Security.  With the Safe to Grow chair locks, I know that Stinky can't climb onto the table!  I feel so much more secure knowing that (as long as we remember to lock the chairs) he won't be able to get our drinks, ruin our paperwork...or stand on the table!  He can't push the chairs to the counter, so I know I won't find him standing on the counter tops anymore.

 Stinky was really confused about the chairs when I first secured them to the table.  Hooray for the Safe to Grow chair locks keeping him off the table!

Installation.  I was a bit confused at first about how to attach the straps to the chairs.  I tried and tried and then kind of gave up, telling myself I'd contact Safe to Grow later and see if they could help.  They did help!  The referred me to the video on their website, which showed me exactly how to do it.  Once I had successfully installed one lock, the others were easy and fast!

Training.  I'm SURE we're the only family that would ever have this problem, but sometimes we forget to lock our chairs when we stand up.  You would think that Stinky would immediately climb onto the unlocked chairs.  He did that at first.  But he's starting to learn that he's not allowed to sit at the table without "permission" right now, so he comes and gets me and "asks" it he can sit in the chairs!  I love that he's learning that the chairs and table aren't a safe place to play!

Maybe it's because of this.  He learned very early on that when the chairs are secured to the table, you really shouldn't climb onto them!  This was the only time he did this.  He was not injured in any way, just mad.  I'm so glad he was stuck under the table rather than on top!

The Bad

The tape.  The locks secure to the table with sticky 3M tape.  It's not a big deal to me, but The Hubby isn't thrilled with having tape stuck to the table, even though it's on the underside.  I don't know how else they could be secured, though, and I am so much happier knowing that Stinky can't climb on the table that the tape seems like a minor issue to me.

Detachment.  Stinky quickly figured out that one of the tapes didn't stick as well as the others, and he has, on occasion, pulled that chair loose on one side.  It's difficult for him to do, though, and we get to him before he can get onto the table.  If you have a table that doesn't have a polished underside, I don't think this will be an issue.  Safe to Grow is also working on a solution to this "problem."

The Outcome

I love the Safe to Grow chair locks!  I think that the only real flaw is that the tape isn't quite strong enough, at least in situations where the underside of the table is finished.  But I am so happy that Stinky is safe and I don't have to worry as much!  I would definitely recommend Safe to Grow chair locks to anyone who has a toddler!  (Find a list of retailers here.)

 Stinky doesn't like the locks.  They make him really mad.  He knows there's super cool stuff up there on the table!

The Giveaway

Safe to Grow has VERY generously agreed to send a set of chair locks - enough for 4 chairs - to each of FOUR of my readers!  They are very concerned about kitchen safety and would love to help you keep yours injury-free!

I was given this product at no cost in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are strictly my own.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's fall, Ya'll!

Crisp mornings and evenings.  
Jeans and sweatshirts. 
Leaf piles.  
Apple pies.  
Trees changing color.
Pumpkin carving.  
The smell of leaves burning.  
Muted, earthy colors.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I don't know when I fell in love with fall, but I can't help myself.  I look forward to fall all year, and then when it gets here I bask in.  I bathe in it.  I drink it in.  I adore fall!  And now that it's finally here, I'm overwhelmed with its immensity!  And now, to start this beautiful season:

Little Lou roasted her own hotdog for the first time!  Wow.  WHY do they grow?!?

Bugsy gave Poppy a few tips in the hotdog roasting department.  (Bugs wanted to roast his own as well, but 4 doesn't seem quite big enough to mommy!)

Stinky chowed on chips, a very rare treat in our house!  (Good thing we weren't in our house!)

Dirt, my friends.  What's a bonfire without a good does of dirt to wash the food down?

Pretty soon, the kids were worn out and we had to go home.  

Thanks, Nana and Poppy, for inviting us over for the first fire of the season!  We loved drinking in the fall air with you! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pirate Weekend at the Renaissance Festival!

Some of you have asked to see pictures from the Renaissance Festival.  It makes me giggle a little, thinking that you'd care to see the pictures, but I'd love to share them!  Be prepared, though...there are quite a few!  I'll just share my favorites.  If you ever have a chance to visit the Ohio Renaissance Festival, I highly recommend it.

 Little Lou was jumping up and down with excitement as we waited for the gates to open!

We save our nickels and dimes each year so that we can attend.  We don't pay extra for rides and we don't typically buy souvenirs.  We buy lunch at the festival, but the kids usually share one or two meals.

 The tables were full, so we ate picnic style this year.  It was even more fun!

Bugs was trying to open his water bottle.  That's hard work!

The Queen and her court graced us with their presence while we dined! 

We do take along some $1 bills to tip the "players."  The kids love putting dollars in the buckets after the shows!

This weekend was Pirate Weekend, which thrilled Bugsy.  He adores the Pirate Show!

Pirates were everywhere around the festival! 

In fact, when we first arrived one of the pirates stopped The Hubby and invited us to the pirate show.  He marked the spot on our map and told  us if we had any questions we should look for a pirate because, "As you know, pirates know everything...except for where to find the treasure!"

Little Lou's favorite is the Mudde Show.  

This year we sat in the 9th row.  "It was an 8 row show."  We were SO close to being muddy!

Mama's favorite is the Swordsmen.  They do the same basic show every year (all the different shows stay pretty similar from year to year) but I love the banter between the Swordsmen!

And what would a Renaissance Festival be without a good joust?  We've always gone to the "full armor joust" before, but this year we went to the "gaming joust."  They did some little games to test their accuracy, and then they jousted.

On the first run, Lady Jessica was nearly de-horsed!  The second run left Lady Jessica on the ground and Sir Robin the victor!  We've never seen someone de-horsed before.  I felt bad for her and hoped she wasn't injured too badly.  She was in enough pain that she didn't continue, but she did walk away.

There were several other fun parts to the day.  It's such a busy, fun day!  We don't stop from the minute the gates open until we leave in the evening.  It doesn't make our kids tired, though, or so they say...

 Less than 5 minutes into the ride.  

She just dozed off and on.

No sleep in the car, but he'd had about a 20 minute snooze earlier in the afternoon.

We love our time each year, and trust it'll get even more fun as the kids grow!  Here are a few more pictures of some of the more fun moments:

My happy munchkins.  This was the first (and best) of a series of 8 shots of them.

 By far the most kid-geared show of the day.  We thought it was really cheesy and not very entertaining...the kids loved it!

 The Bug, choosing his weapon

 The obligatory "giant knight" picture!  They've grown since last year:

We enjoyed our time immensely!  We basked in a lovely family day together.  

We're already making plans for next year!  What a great annual memory!