**The product for this review and giveaway was provided by HABA. All opinions are my own.

Although December is a couple of months away, I know it will come quickly. I've already started thinking about Christmas shopping, and have a few things bought already! When it comes to finding my kids high quality gifts, I know I can always count on HABA. With Dolls, games and play sets lovingly crafted and affordably priced, HABA makes cherished presents that will be enjoyed now and in years to come. Not only is the quality top-notch, but I appreciate that we will never need a charger, USB Cable or Wi-Fi Hot spot to use their toys. Kids love classic toys that encourage them to use their imagination and get creative. It's neat as a parent to watch which is why I always enjoy learning about new HABA products.


For those who aren't familiar, HABA is known for handsome, high quality baby and children's toys as well as their children's games and dolls. The company's products are always seen in national parenting and lifestyle magazines plus they've won nearly every prestigious German and American toy award. 

Browsing through their website, I was drawn to the My First Play World toy and knew it would be something my boys would love! I was thrilled to learn we were going to have the opportunity to review it!  
 
When our My First Play World arrived, I was happy to find that once again, HABA did not disappoint! The quality is superb! They have even kept moms in mind by making the play set fold up into a handy carrying case. I greatly appreciate this, as it makes it easy for us to keep all of the pieces together and easy for the kids to tote around wherever they're playing!



I was impressed with how many play figures were included. They are all designed with such care and even stand on their own! There are 2 firefighters, 1 fire engine, 1 cord as water hose, 1 cat, 1 tree, 1 ladder, 1 fire hydrant, 3 fire game counters, 3 fire brigade game counters, set of game instructions for 18 months and up.
 
One of the neatest things though, is when the carrying case is folded down and the fire brigade is open. It leaves endless room for the imagination and fosters a child's language skills through play.  Kaden got so excited when he saw the playset. It's a really nice size and he didn't even need any help...he just began playing! It was fun to watch as he took the firetruck to put out the fire by a tree, and to help a cat that was stuck on top of the building. The sky is the limit with a toy like this. One day he's on a mission to put out a building fire, and the next he's busy putting out tree fires.
Even Caysen gets in on the play and drives the firetruck around while Caysen plays with some of the figures inside the firehouse. I love that it's a toy they can use together.

Since this allows for such open-ended play, the boys don't seem to get bored with it. They come back day after day ready to play again. It's so neat to watch and just another reason why I am such a fan of HABA and their great toys!
If you're looking for great gift ideas this Christmas, you can make your holiday shopping easy with HABA. Take your pick of sweet dolls, water toys and even board games! You can visit www.HABAusa.com to learn more.

Buy It:  You can purchase the My First Play World - Fire Brigade Large Play Set for $49.99 from HABA. 

Win It: One lucky reader is going to win their choice of one of the following toys:
Roly Poly Figures:  Frog  Kasper  Hedgehog





Wet Ones Sticky Situations ~ Memorable Family Moments

Posted by Jenna | Monday, September 30, 2013



 
**I participated in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Wet Ones. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating

It's hard to believe that the month of September is wrapping up. The trees are beginning to turn color, the air is cooler, and school is in full swing! So far the school year has been flying by, just as expected. It took a couple of weeks to adjust to the new schedule after our relaxing and flexible summer break. Thankfully, we're all used to the new wake-up time, bedtimes and after-school activities.

I think the back-to-school after-school activities are what really keeps us busy. The kids have church every wednesday, and Kaelyn is starting tumbling. She and Kaden will also be starting swimming lessons soon as well. It keeps us on-the-go a lot, which means many snacks are eaten in the car. Thankfully, we still have our Wet Ones on-hand for on-the-go cleanliness. 

Whether we're headed to or from an activity, school or church...Wet ONes helps keep our family germ-free during the busy days. I love having them for the kids to use before and after they eat their snack, and anytime they are finished with an activity and being around a lot of people...and germs. They're perfect for all of life's sticky situations.

Speaking of that, Wet Ones has created an online booklet filled with "Sticky Situations" from Moms and teachers. The online booklet is a free resource filled with notable moments, tips and advice that celebrates all of life's "Sticky Situations". You can check it out here.

We've had some memorable family "sticky situations' over the years that stand out to me. In the summer time we'd often take a break and have Popsicles. That almost always leads to sticky situations. Thankfully it has been warm enough here, that we've been able to enjoy them still this month! YAY!
When we're on the go, we usually enjoy a snack in the car. That sometimes even means a stop for some ice cream. The kids love it, but it can get quite messy. Thankfully, Wet Ones helps! 
I also love Wet Ones for the times we're grocery shopping and need something to wipe off the handle of the cart. This is just one way I know Wet Ones is helping to keep my family germ-free and healthier!

Since school started, I've also been sending them in Kaelyn's lunch box which helps give me peace of mind that we're doing what we can to keep her healthy.

Where can you get Wet Ones?!
Available in two fragrances, Fresh and Citrus Scent, Wet Ones® Antibacterial Hand Wipes come in three convenient forms:

    •    40 count canister, which is designed to fit into a standard car cup holder
    •    15 count travel pack
    •    24 count box of individually wrapped single wipes

There's also pediatrician-tested Wet Ones® Hand Wipes for Sensitive Skin! They're hypoallergenic, alcohol- and fragrance-free. Each wipe has an extra mild cleanser & soothing moisturizers to help keep the touchiest skin touchable. Sensitive Skin Hand Wipes come in three handy sizes:

    •    40 count canister, which is designed to fit into a standard car cup holder
    •    15 count travel pack
    •    24 count box of individually wrapped single wipes

Buy: Wet Ones® Antibacterial products are available at Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens and other national retailers. Visit www.WetOnes.com or call 866-WET-111S for additional information. 




Welch's "Share What's Good" Photo Contest

Posted by Jenna | Monday, September 30, 2013





**I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Welch's. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

From the time I became a mother, I have been told that my kids will grow right before my eyes. Wow, is that ever true! They are only small for so long and I want to soak up every moment. Spending time as a family is very important to my husband and I, which is why we sit down as a family for supper almost every night together. 

I appreciate that Welch's believes in the magic of "kitchen table" moments as well. They have been helping families enjoy them for generations. In the time it takes to drink a glass of juice or share a sandwich, a special moment can happen. That's why Welch's just launched a new movement called "share What's Good". It's all about sharing those special moments that occur each day with family, friends and loved ones. 

In visiting Sharewhatsgood.com, I found that there's a variety of great content from fun family ideas to delicious recipes! You can even share photos of your every-day moments and see how others are doing the same.

As part of the Share what's good campaign, there's also a "Share What's Good" Photo Contest. Until October 25, you can upload a photo of your family moment for a chance to win $5,000!! And, while there is only one grand prize, everyone who enters will get a $1.50 coupon for Welch's 100% Grape Juice - or $2 if you share the news.

You can visit Sharewhatsgood.com to learn more and enter! 

You can also connect with Welch's on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!




McCain Grocery Goodness Giveaway on Facebook

Posted by Jenna | Monday, September 30, 2013



 
*I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom CentralConsulting for McCain Foods. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.
 
Growing up, I remember having family meals together on a regular basis. I think it's important to spend time together as a family, sharing about our days and just being with one another. It's something I try to do now that I have children too! 
 

How about you? Do you sit down for meals with your family on a regular basis? If so, McCain Potatoes wants to help! They are running a McCain Grocery Goodness Giveaway Contest where 1 winner will be selected each week (8 winners total) to receive a $500 grocery store gift card! Contestants can also check out the Grocery Goodness Giveaway tab to receive a $1 off coupon off any 1 bag of McCain Potato products!
“Load up on groceries your family loves, and bring naturally good moments to the dinner table every time you serve McCain Potatoes."

Be sure to head over to the McCain Facebook page and check it out! 



Creative Baby Inc. i-Mat: My Animal World ~ Review & Giveaway

Posted by Jenna | Monday, September 30, 2013




**The product for this review was provided by Creative Baby Inc. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.

It's hard to believe how much the times have changed. When I was a child, technology was limited and now we have young children with digital devices like smart phones, tablets and flash drives at their finger tips. Now even toddlers as young as 18 months have their own device, the soft and colorful foam i-Mat.
 Creative Baby Inc. develops products to excite, challenge and simply delight tots and introduced the i-Mat: My Animal World in August. This is the first in a series of themed interactive foam mats and made of four interlocking soft sections that are activated when used with its Voice Pen. 

What's neat is that both babies and older siblings can learn while exploring the illustrated mat with a simple point on the word bubble. They are instantly rewarded with an animal sound, a word, music or a foreign language translation! Wow! 

When I was introduced to more information about the i-Mat, I was very intrigued and interested in learning more. That's why I was excited when asked if we'd like to test it out and share our thoughts! 

When the i-Mat: My Animal World arrived, my kids were very eager to give it a try. I was excited too! Afterall, I love when we're able to find fun, educational activities and toys that all three of them can use and enjoy. It's also appreciated that the mat is phthalate, lead and have metal-free, and no electronics mean no worries for wiping the mat clean!


Out of the box I was impressed with the quality of the mat. It's soft, but durable. I can tell it will hold up to a lot of use which is great...as all three of my kids love it! It was very easy to piece together, almost like a puzzle. The kids liked helping get it set up. 


Once it was all set up, we pressed the on/off button on the voice pen to begin. We knew it was working when we heard a child's laughter and the blue light flash. Using the pen with the i-Mat, we pressed the on/off symbol on the mat to activate the connection between the i-Mat and Voice Pen. We were greeted with a Hello which let us know we could get started. 

We then got the volume set where we wanted it, as well as the language by pushing the correct flag. We hadn't even gotten started yet, and the kids were already learning about different languages and countries! YAY!

First we began with out pushing either of the Game symbols. Caysen took the pen and touched the different animals with the voice pen to discover their names, sounds and the sounds of the environment where they live. He loves it and seems to be learning a lot each time we use it!
For older children like Kaden and Kaelyn, there are learning games that are a lot of fun too. Game one is beginners mode and calls out an animal and asks you to find it. Game 2 is an advanced mode and gives an animal sound and asks you to find the corresponding animal. 

It's really neat to see how all three of my children ranging from 1-5 can use this mat, have fun and learn new things. It's easy for them to use, and safe which I appreciate more than anything! 
If you're looking for a fun and educational activity for your children, one that can be used from 18 months+...I would definitely recommend checking out the i-Mat My Animal World from Creative Baby! 

Here's a quick video to show the kids using it to give you an idea of how it works. So neat! 


We absolutely love it and can't wait for two more themed adventures to launch soon. The i-Mat My Alphabet and i-Mat Under the Sea!! As new mats are introduced, parents can connect the Voice Pen to any computer with interet access (with the included USB cable), download the new sound file from Creative Baby's website and explore the new i-Mat adventures.

Buy It:  Sold as a set, the foamy pad and pen together retail for $79.99. For a limited time, Creative Baby offers free shipping for all pre-orders too! New pads will be priced from $24.99 to $29.99.

 
Win It: One very lucky reader is going to win an i-Mat: My Animal World like we received. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter Giveaway below. 




#GreenWorksGames on Pinterest

Posted by Jenna | Sunday, September 29, 2013




 
*I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Green Works. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating.


We've always been pretty good about recycling and helping to keep our environment and earth clean, but I will admit, gave very little thought to the cleaning products I used in our home before I became a mom. That all changed however, when I had a new little life to care for and raise. I educated myself on living more green and using more eco-friendly products that contain natural ingredients. That's when I came across Green Works. Cleaning products like this, not only helps keep our planet clean, but is also healthier for my family. 
 

The Green Works Naturally Derived All-Purpose Cleaner is formulated using plant and mineral based biodegradable cleaning ingredients. It handles daily routines without the harshness of traditional cleaners. YAY! 

Here are some of the things I love most about the the Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner:
  • It provides an easy and practical way to use naturally derived products without compromising performance
  • It's packaged in bottles that can be recycled
  • Not tested on animals
  •  No available with SMART TUBE Technology that allows consumers to spray every drop of the liquid!
We prefer to use eco-friendly cleaning products, and have used Green Works for quite some time. Using natural products helps give me peace of mind that I'm doing what's best to give my kids the very best start in life. I feel good knowing that they aren't being exposed to the harsh chemicals in traditional cleaners, and that we're helping to care for the earth as well!

I love that Green Works is dedicated to green living, and to jumpstart their mission, they have created interactive Pinterest Games to inspire people to live green. I would definitely recommend learning more about the Pinterest Games and encourage you to play by creating your own Pinterest board using the hashtag #Greenworksgames! It's easy and a lot of fun! A great way to inspire your Pinterest friends/followers to live green as well and of course, a chance to win a $500 Gift Card!!

You can check Green Works out on Pinterest, here and learn more about the Pinterest Games as well.






Trying to pay back your own student loans or maybe even helping out your children overcome their debts can certainly be very intimidating. Don’t worry! It is possible to pay back any college loans. It normally takes energy, sure, and in all likelihood a lot of consistent effort. If you have to the right method, you might additionally be able to do it faster than you would expect. However, let’s discuss the reason why you ought to make an effort to pay or help pay your kids’ college loans off sooner than needed.
You’ll help save some money. Let’s say your kid has got a $30,000 loan using a 4.5% monthly interest rate that needs to be paid off over 20 years – that’s a whopping $15,550 in interest. However, when if it is paid off completely in precisely 10 years, that’s a savings of $8,240. Should it only take five years, $11,993 will be saved. That’s ample money to obtain a brand new vehicle. Or maybe, based on where you reside, a complete year or so of rent payments.
Doing away with university student loan debt even provides the debtor with a whole lot of independence - the liberty to try a lower-paying occupation that they will cherish more, the freedom to travel abroad, also the opportunity to undertake other “good” debts - such as a mortgage for a first home.
It’s also important to understand that defaulting on a student loan will surely have grave repercussions; in truth, not paying back student loan debt is usually worse than not paying off other sorts of financial debt. Defaulting on your own loans can destroy your credit score, rendering it tricky to do almost everything from signing up for simple utilities to leasing a condo. Your financial troubles could possibly expand thanks to accruing interest. And if you have federal government loans, the government can add charges or perhaps garnish your wages, requiring your boss to hold back cash out of your salary and send it straight to the federal government.
There are occassions when it is without a doubt wiser to pay off some other loans prior to education loans - for those who have other debt with a higher annual percentage rate, pay that down initially, and it’s makes sense to develop an tragedy fund with a minimum of $1,000 as you start repaying education loan debt. But in addition to that, it can be definitely useful to pay back your main student loans as quickly as possible. It’s not always hassle-free, but it is possible.
Loan consolidation is likewise a choice, but is not the right choice for everyone. However, for many people, it will also help. Combining your financial loans - grouping many smaller sized financial loans in to one particular large one - can make paying for your current loans more convenient, because you have only one servicing company. Consolidation can make it harder to use the “debt snowball” approach with your loans - a procedure for debt reimbursement which usually has you pay off your minutest debt initially, and then “snowballing” the amount of money you're putting towards your debt to the next most important debt, and so forth. This method works for all sorts of personal debt, not just education loan debt
Consolidation also can prolong the timeframe required to pay off your loan at a bank such as the TD student loan repayment. While this can assist by offering an individual the possibility of lower repayments in the short-term, also note that you’ll be paying additional interest in the long-term. You might also experience different problems if you’re considering merging your personal credit - since the credit crunch, a lot fewer organizations are offering private loan consolidation.









October is just around the corner, and before we know it the time for Christmas shopping will be here! For those who like to shop early and enjoy finding great deals like I do, you won't want to miss checking out the Amazon Deal of the Day today!

TODAY ONLY (Friday September 27th), the Amazon Deal of the Day is offering 40 percent OFF more than a dozen Fisher-Price toy favorites!

From the iconic Little People Farm to the action-packed imaginext Playsets, you can get a jump on your holiday shopping and share the joy with 40% off Fisher-Price!








Fall is upon us and the school year is in full swing. Kaelyn is enjoying school and learning a lot. I am happy with our decision to send her to school, but still want to make sure I'm doing my part as her parent and primary teacher by giving her opportunities at home to learn and grow as well. That's why I like to have a variety of activities and games on hand to do with my kids at every age. I am always on the lookout for products like this, which is why I'm thankful for Super Duper Publications.


Super Duper Publications gives parents a variety of products to choose from for those with children who learn differently, want to augment school lessons, or who home school. Whether it's to go along with a lesson being learned in school, or something to do once the homework is done...I have found several items that I know would be perfect for my kids. 

This is a company that has been employing speech-language pathologists to make language-enhancing learning materials for kids since 1986. Pirate Talk, Grammar Gumballs and Ask and Answer Bingo are just a few of the many great language skill games available. No matter the skill that needs improving, you can browse their extensive website and online store as I have, and discover hundreds of products created by language professionals. 

As I've spent time browsing the different products, I appreciate that each game and activity lists right on the website what skills it improves, so you are sure to get the item that works best for your child. When asked if I'd like to review a few of their best sellers I was thrilled and couldn't wait to check them out!

 
Kaelyn and Kaden love to play games, so Ask & Answer "Wh" bingo stuck out to my right away. It's meant for children ages 3 & Up, so I knew it would be something they both could play and enjoy. 

The quality of the box stood out to me right away. More often than not, our game boxes end up falling apart. This however, is sturdy and durable and something I can tell will hold up to a lot of use. I appreciate this, as I know we'll have a dependable storage container for the game so we can keep everything together. 

Of course, we couldn't wait to check out the game! Upon opening the box, I was happy to find that the instructions were right on the underside of the lid. This means I don't have to keep track of a piece of paper which I love! Best of all...the instructions were easy to understand and the game is really simple. Perfect for young children!
Included in this game are 6 sets of Bingo cards...Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why? and Combo!. It helps children learn to ask and answer "wh" questions. So, not only is it loads of fun, but also educational too! There's also question cards and Bingo chips as well.
I appreciate that this game makes it easy for teachers and parents to meet the needs of the child. First you decide which "Wh" questions are best for your student. You then pass out those boards and bingo chips for the players. It works best to have more than one person playing (Kaelyn and Kaden are usually both playing at the same time), but there have been times when Kaelyn is at school and Kaden just wants to play too. Either way, it's fun to see them learning and having fun at the same time. 
To play, the caller (usually me), draws a card and reads the question. Players guess the answer, locates the matching picture and covers it with a chip. For the "what" question for example, it might say "What do you get when you win first place?". Children look over their card and find the picture of the "trophy" and cover it with a chip. 
As I said, it's a very simple game and great for children of all ages. The "What" questions are pretty easy, while the "Why" requires higher level thinking. That's why both my 3 year old and 5 year old can easily play this together and learn something new every time!
Pirate Talk also caught our eye, as pirates are a favorite in our household...especially for my boys! Since Kaden is not in school yet, I appreciate that this game can easily be played with just one player. It's a fun one to pull out when it's just him at home. 


Best of all, it's super easy and fun too! The object of the game is to have players sail their ships around the board, stopping at each island and trying to collect the most gold coins. 

Again, teachers and parents select from a subject area that they believe is the best fit for the child/children they are working with. I like that it can be suited to the needs of each individual child. 
Once a subject area is chosen, players choose a Pirate Marker and Place it on a Home Port at the corner of the board. The player presses the electronic spinner (which is SO cool) and moves the number of spaces shown!

I then choose a card and read the item to the player while showing the picture to them. If the player lands on an island, he/she receives the number of gold coins that matches the number next to that island. Play continues until all the gold coins are gone. The coins seem to be a favorite for Kaelyn and Kaden! 

I do the "Home" cards with Kaden a lot, because those are the ones he enjoys the most. There are receptive questions and expressive questions on each. For instance, on a picture of a boy vacuuming, it says The boy is vacuuming the potato chips off the floor. There's then two questions that say "who is vacuuming" and "What is the boy vacuuming off the floor". It's very simple, but really gets the child thinking and learning.
This receptive and expressive language game is for students in grades K-5, but even my almost 4 year old enjoys i! It targets seven essential communications skills, three receptive (sentence repetition, answering questions and following directions) and four express (categorizing, inferencing, describing and social skills). I appreciate that this game can be tailored to each student's abilities and age level, and see it as one that we will be able to use for many more years! It's a lot of fun, and the Pirate theme really captures the interest of kids of all ages.

The third product we received is the MagneTalk Match-Up Adventure Kit with Barrier. What drew me to this activity kit was that it's made for such a wide age range, Pre-K - grade 5. This means that Kaelyn and Kaden can both enjoy it, and soon Caysen too! 


It's a one of a kind, magnetic masterpiece that targets a ton of language and listening skills including following directions, vocabulary, auditory memory, rhyming, categorization and more! Children have fun all while listening and using language effectively. 

The kit includes 10 game boards (two of each scene: camping, picnic, outer space, ocean and grocery store), 2-sided magnetic, dry erase tabletop easel, 100 magnetic pieces, and Reproducible activity book with CD Rom for printing.
I love to keep things organized, it helps be in my mommy balancing act a lot! So, I was thrilled when I pulled everything out of the boxes and found a great zippered pouch for the game boards and magnets, as well as a great tote to keep that, the activity book and barrier all together! LOVE IT! As a mom and former teacher, I love that Super Duper Publications has thought to help parents and teachers stay organized. 
The dry erase tabletop easel is good quality and I love that the game boards slide right in the top to keep them in place when we're using them. This is a great set up for homeschoolers and teachers who are working with one or two students at a time. 
When Kaelyn and Kaden do it together, we pick the same game board for each of them since there's two of each. I then give them the magnets that go along with that game board, which are all numbered on the back to make it easy for me. 

Using the handy activity book, I'm able to work with them on different skills in a fun way.There are lots of ideas in the book, and I appreciate that there's even a CD Rom for printing too! 
For the camping game board, for instance...there's a lesson on vocabulary where we work on receptive language and expressive language. The kids point to the correct magnets as well as tell me things about them. 

Using the game board, I say things to the kids like Put the fish in the stream or take the squirrel out of the tent. We work on opposites and basic concepts this way. 

There's also activities for rhyming, deductive reasoning, auditory memory and story telling, and categorizing as well for each game board. 

The kids really enjoy it, and I love that everything is laid out so nicely for me. It's been fun to see them learning while having fun at the same time. 
As with most kids, my kids love magnets. So even when I am not doing anything formal or structured with them, they enjoy choosing a game board and simply making scenes and pictures with the magnets. It's neat to see their imaginations at work. 

I really love everything about this fun kit! It's especially great for those who homeschool or are teachers in a school. The quality of this kit is top-notch and something that will hold up to a lot of use!

Overall I've been really happy with the items we received from Super Duper Publications. The kids absolutely adore these games and activities, and I appreciate that they are user-friendly and teach so many great skills...all while allowing kids to have fun. Afterall, when kids can have fun and relate to the things they're learning, it makes it a lot more meaningful to them.

Buy It: You can purchase Pirate Talk Board Game for $54.95, Ask & Answer "Wh" Bingo for $54.95, and MagneTalk Match-up Adventure Kit with Barrier for $89.94, all on the www.superduperinc.com website! 

Coupon Code: Right now A Mom's Balancing Act readers can get a special back-to-school special of 30% off storewide discount when ordering, until September 30! Simply use code: DS37FQWC

WIN It:  One very lucky reader is going to WIN a $50 Gift Card to use on the Super Duper Publications website! This way you will have the opportunity to explore the site to see the depth the depth of the product offering and the great amount of information available on each product to decide what suits your child best!


This giveaway is open to US and Canada!




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