VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch ~ Review & Giveaway

Posted by Jenna | Sunday, August 31, 2014

**TheVTech product, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by VTech.

Whether we're at home, in the car or waiting at the doctor's office, it's nice when my kids have something to keep them entertained...especially when it's educational! That's why I was super excited to learn about the new VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch!

I am a big fan of VTech and was eager to check this product out once I learned we were going to have the opportunity to review it. I wasn't the only one either...my 4 and 6 year old were also very excited!!

More than just a watch, VTech's Kidizoom Smartwatch takes photos, videos, offers learning games and makes it fun to tell time for learning fun on the go! When it arrived we took it out of the box and I was happy to find that getting it set up was easy! My son was the first to use it and it was love at first sight!

This is the smartest watch for kids I have ever seen. It obviously has the time which my 1st grader loves. She appreciates that it helps her learn to tell time by letting her choose between digital and analog displays. She and my son both also loved that they could choose between 50 clock face designs. It's a fun way for each to customize the look when they're wearing it to suit their interests and personalities.

The features don't stop there though, just check out this list which truly makes the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch one of a kind!

  • 1.4 inch color touch screen 
  • Camera for taking photos and recording videos 
  • Voice recorder with 5 voice changing effects 
  • Special effects including customized photo frames, color filters and distortion effects; fun video frames 
  • 4 fun games, included Kid-durable design to withstand drops and bumps 
  • Splash proof and sweat proof 
  • Alarm clock with fun tones and animation 
  • Timer and stopwatch in kid-friendly themes 
  • 50+ digital and traditional analog displays 
  • Rechargeable battery 
  • 4 vibrant colors: blue, pink, white and green 
  • Micro USB cable for data transfer and battery recharging 
  • Access to Learning Lodge app store to download more games and watch displays

What amazed me is that although small, the 1.4 inch color touch screen is very easy to see and use. It is a touch screen which kids will be used to using if they have used other touch screen devices in the past. The colors are vibrant and the features are amazing!

A favorite for my kids are the options to take photos, videos and record their own voices! It really doesn't take much to entertain them yet they have so much fun! There's even voice-changing effects and fun photo effects, frames and filters for them to choose from which makes it all the more enjoyable!!

Of course, one of my favorite aspects is that it includes four learning games with the ability to download more from Learning Lodge using the micro USB cable. The timer, alarm clock and stopwatch have also come in handy already!

Designed for children ages 4 years and up, I have found this age to be very accurate. My four year old and 6 year old absolutely love it!! It's something they both can use and enjoy on a level of interest at both of their ages. My 2 year old doesn't understand much about it yet, but I'm excited for him to be able to use it in another year or two also!

We've been very impressed with the quality and overall functionality of this product! I am amazed at how interactive it is and all that it offers young children. I love that it's geared toward my kids' ages and something they can use independently. It's especially great for when they're in the car or waiting in a restaurant, etc...however mine even enjoy sitting down and using it at home too! There are so many features it is really something that appeals to kids of all ages with all interests. I would highly recommend check it out. The holidays will be here before we know it and this would be a great gift for any boy or girl on your list this year!

You can also connect with VTech on Twitter and Facebook

Buy It: The VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch retails for $59.99.

WIN IT: one lucky reader is going to WIN a VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch!

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#MySummerJourney to the State Fair and Zoo w/Safety 1st ~ Giveaway

Posted by Jenna | Tuesday, August 26, 2014

**As part of the Safety 1st Summer Journey Ambassador Program, I was sent the product featured to help facilitate my review and help make #mysummerjourney go smoothly. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.  

At the end of July I began to realize how quickly the summer was going. I walked the isles of my local department stores and there were school supplies surrounding me. Although my kids love school, we all enjoy summer and being able to make memories together as a family! One of the best ways to do this for our family is spending time together and taking family trips! Once I realized just how close we were to the end of summer...my hubby and I decided to plan one last summer trip that was also full of memorable 1sts!

As we got things planned for our weekend trip away, the first thing we needed to do before we could leave was get Caysen in a car seat that fit him more comfortably. Since we would be traveling quite a distance, I wanted him to be comfortable, as well as have something that wasn't quite as large as some of our convertible car seats to save space in our vehicle. Thankfully, I always know I can count on Safety 1st for our travel needs and found that the Summit Booster Car Seat was exactly what I had been looking for. 

Once our reservations were made, our tickets were bought and the car was packed...we all got in the vehicle and made our first trip to the State Fair! The kids can get restless on long car rides, but Caysen rode like a dream. The first thing he said about his new car seat was how comfortable he was! As anyone with little ones knows...having a happy 2 year old makes the drive go a lot more smoothly. ;) I think having the 4 position QuickFit headrest that adjusts with the harness really helped because it ensured that it fit him well, along with the high quality fabric and comfortable seat. 

In what felt like no time at all, we were at the State Fair and ready to enjoy our day! And, oh what a fun time we had! Being able to see all of those amazing animals, rides and especially try out the food....we soaked up our first trip to the fair and decided we really needed to make this a tradition for our family! 

Of course, after a long day of walking and playing in the sun it was nice that Caysen had the comfortable headrest to rest his tired little head on when we headed out for supper that evening. 

We enjoyed some fun at the motel that evening...of course the pool is always a highlight of any trip away from home!! My kids also love being able to stay in a bed all together and watch movies!

The next morning we headed to the local zoo in the area that we had never been to. We had a blast! We enjoy all kinds of zoos, but what stood out to us about Blank Park Zoo in particular is how kid-friendly it is! They really had a lot of fun things for the kids to see and do...it almost felt like a children's museum in parts! 

A favorite at this zoo was the kangaroos! They were freely hopping around, so we felt we could get quite close to them to see an animal that was so unique to us. The kids especially enjoyed this and got to even pretend that they were kangaroos themselves! 

Between viewing the animals, playing on the huge playground and getting to ride the fun train around the zoo....our kiddos were smiling from ear to ear!! 

Our drive home was once again a lengthy one, which made me thankful I had packed some drinks and snacks for the kids. They were hungry after our long and busy day at the zoo! Caysen felt special having his own cup holder built right into the side of the car seat. It gave him a place for his drink and snack which made it very convenient and a lot less messy too! 

It was an extremely fun trip! We had so much fun and got to experience many new things we had never done before. We were able to document the trips with lots of pictures, and thanks to the help of Safety 1st, our little man was able to ride in comfort safely! I appreciate the many features of this car seat that made our trip so much easier...not to mention giving me piece of mind that he was safe while we traveled thanks side impact protection. I love the 5 point safety harness, but also appreciate that it can be a belt-positioning booster once he is a bit bigger and older. With all of the places we stopped, having the pivoting armrests were also really helpful. They made getting in and out of the car seat easy, making it possible for Caysen to feel more independent in being able to do things himself. 

We are happy we decided to take our last free weekend of the summer to make memories with our kiddos by planning a fun summer journey. They are growing so fast and I want to soak up every moment. 

Share your fun summer pics for a chance to win a safety 1st car seat, GoPro HERO3 digital camera, bikes for your family, etc. Enter daily - promo ends 9/1 around 10AM EST. Visit here for more info. 

WIN IT: One lucky reader is going to win a Summit Booster Car Seat from Safety 1st (which retails for $119!). 

Back-to-School Fashion for Kids at Kohl's {Review}

Posted by Jenna | Saturday, August 23, 2014

**Kohl's sent me a gift card to help facilitate my back-to-school review. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.

Back-to-school season is here, can you believe it?!! Wow, where did the summer go?! Not only do I have one in 1st grade this year, but my 4 year old is starting preschool too. That means we have double the back-to-school shopping to do...not only for supplies, but also clothing too!

I enjoy shopping as a family, it's a chance for us to get out and spend time together. However, with three little ones, shopping is always more pleasant when we are able to do much of our shopping in one place! That's why Kohl's is my must-have back-to-school shop! 

We find ourselves shopping at Kohl's often, and back-to-school shopping has been no different! They offer a great variety of clothing for the whole family, not to mention the other things a person may need such as backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes, etc!

As we shopped at Kohl's for back-to-school, I found that they are a great one-stop-shop for kids of all ages. Having already found some of the essentials we needed like back packs, socks and lunch boxes, we were focused on back-to-school fashion for our two school-age kids! Thankfully, Kohl's makes it super easy to find exactly what we need on a reasonable budget!

Both kids just recently started growing out of the current size they are in, so it was necessary to get them some new things for school and the fall season that is nearing. What I love about Kohl's is the great variety of quality brands offered. Their styles are so cute, and they always have great mix and match clothing which saves us a lot of money! 

For the girls there were tons of leggings, tunics, tops and pants to choose from, not to mention some amazing deals on the clearance racks as well! Since they are always the same brands they always carry...I'm able to buy them a few items and know that they can be mix and matched to make several outfits. As a mom who is now buying for two during back-to-school season...this is hugely appreciated!!

I love the variety in colors and design. Whether your little girl likes princess, plaid or even butterflies...they have it all!!

The boys clothes were just as cute with lots of choices of pants, shirts, sweatshirts and more! I appreciate that the items I found can be worn as comfortable clothes or a little bit more dressed up! He absolutely loves sports and cars, so I was happy to find so many choices within these themes...however there's also superheros as well as classic stripes and button down shirts! There's truly something for every occasion and style. 

On our shopping trip I was able to find both Kaelyn and Kaden several items that will be perfect for school! I was able to spend less by purchasing items that could be mix and matched not only with each other, but also the other clothes they already have. I also am happy with the quality found at Kohl's and know these clothes will not only have my kids going to school in style but will last through the wear and tear of P.E., recess and more!

Our back-to-school shopping went smoothly and we were able to find everything the kids would need as they head into a new school year! Being able to shop for it all in one store was extremely convenient and one of the reasons I shop at Kohl's frequently! I also love that they offer such low prices, with great savings (coupons and Kohl's cash) to bring the bill even lower! We save a lot of money shopping at Kohl's and will always remain loyal customers.

You can connect with Kohl's on Twitter and Facebook.

Balance Bar Summer Shape Up Challenge ~ #BalanceShapeUp Giveaway

Posted by Jenna | Friday, August 15, 2014

**I received a Walmart GC as part of this sponsored collaboration with Balance Bar. 

Two years ago, I lost 20+ lbs and have felt much healthier ever since. However, it is still a process getting my body back in shape after having three children and my goal for this summer has been to work on that more intentionally. I eat healthier now, but I also have the desire to tone and just be in better shape overall. 

To do this, I decided it was time to restock on some of my favorite items to feel good and look good this summer...so I headed off to our local Walmart with my family as part of the Balance Bar Summer Shape-Up Challenge. There I found so many great products that help aid in a healthy lifestyle...healthy snacks, sunscreen, workout gear, water bottles, fitness equipment and more! 

On my wish list are still a treadmill and a bicycle for myself...however I was more drawn to the weights and dvds that have simple workouts for busy moms like myself. Along with these, I have been doing a lot of swimming with the kids and a lot of walking too. 

After all, what I'm learning is that it's important to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day like walking, running or just moving your body. It's also just as important to make nutritious meal and snacking decisions to get the most out of the fitness routine I have. So about 90 minutes before my workout I try to eat a small meal/snack to ensure that I have the best levels of energy.

Luckily as part of this challenge I was able to check out the Balance Bar selection, which makes a terrific snack idea before exercising and in between meals. They help me to stay full longer and help satisfy my appetite.  

At Walmart, I found that Balance Bar offers over 20 varieties of bars based on the 40-30-30 nutrition principle (40% calories from carbs, 30% from protein and 30% from dietary fat) - a proven formula developed by scientists to help maintain your blood sugar levels already within a normal range. We picked up a couple of varieties, including the Cookie Dough which is my favorite!

These are such a satisfying snack and perfect for on the go which is great for me! I can simply throw one in the diaper bag, my purse, etc and I am sure to have a healthy snack on hand whenever I need it. 

I am so thankful to have been asked to be a Balance Bar Ambassador and help spread the word about the Balance Bar Summer Shape Up Challenge. You can learn more about the challenge here. The 40 day Challenge is filled with 30 minute workouts and healthy eating tips on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Holly Del Rosso, an NASM certified personal trainer, created the exercise program which includes 18 different 30-minute workouts focused on different parts of the body such as abs, legs and back. These are a great way to jump start any fitness routine.

I would definitely recommend taking part in this challenge, checking out the 30 minute workouts and of course...trying Balance Bars which you can find at your local Walmart

Win It: One lucky reader is going to win a $10 Walmart Gift Card and a variety pack of Balance Bars of their own! 

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Back to School Eye Exams ~ Why They Are Important! #AOA

Posted by Jenna | Tuesday, August 12, 2014

**I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It's August and Back to School time is almost here! Can you believe it?! It's a busy time for families...getting in all of the last minute trips, shopping and of course preparing for the next eight months of school with making sure all the kids have had the appointments they need!

I know many people deal with back to school season differently, but I like to spread things out so we're not as rushed and can still enjoy the last few weeks of summer that we have left. I try to shop on the clearance racks at the end of each season so they have most of the clothes they'll need once school starts. I also try to scatter their appointments throughout the year...then by the time the new school year begins...they're set. For me, this includes doctor's dentists and even the eye doctor. 

My kids have had several eye checks between the optometrist and the school and for that I am thankful. It's hard to know sometimes if someone needs glasses. Some children will show signs and some don't. My kids do not have contacts or glasses, but I do. When I was in preschool I had my eyes checked for the first time, and it was then that they found one of my eyes was weaker than the other. That's how it has been my whole life and I'm thankful to my parents for getting it checked when they did...because otherwise they would never have known! 

My experience is why I felt passionate about being apart of this campaign through Mom Central and the American Optometric Association to help share the importance of back to school eye exams. In today's world, I feel it's especially important with the screen time many kids have. My kids use ipads and ipods from time to time and I know this puts strain on their eyes. Knowing this, I try to monitor their screen time. We have an incentive chart where they earn 10 minutes for every 20 minutes of school work/educational related activities - which usually leads to a max of 30 minutes a day, if that. This has really helped me keep a handle on how much their little eyes are in front of the screen. I also try to remember to practice the 20-20-20 rule...when using technology take a 20 second break, ever 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.

The use of technology among children is also on the rise in the classroom. A new survey from the American Optometric Association shows that parents drastically underestimate the time their children spend on digital devices. It reports that 83 percent of children between ages 10 and 17 use an electronic device for three or more hours each day. And, 80 percent of children surveyed report experiences burning, itchy or tired eyes after using electronic devices for long periods of time. I believe it, as my eyes got the same way, especially in college when I was in front of a computer much more than I was used to. The following are symptoms of digital eye strain, a temporary vision condition caused by prolonged use of technology.:

  • itchy eyes
  • burning eyes
  • tired eyes
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • loss of focus
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • head/neck pain

Optometrists are also growing concerned about the kinds of light everyday electronic devices give off - high energy, short-wavelength blue light, and how those rays might affect and even age the eyes. This is one thing I hadn't thought about before, but even more of a reason to limit their time in front of the screen and get their eyes checked every year. 

The AOA recommends these things to help prevent or reduce eye and vision problems associated with eye strain and exposure to blue light: 
o      Checking the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
o      Checking for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or changing its background color.
o      Reducing the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give flexible control of room lighting.
o      Adjusting font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
o      Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of the eye moist.

And of course comprehensive eye exams by an optometrist are essential! The AOA recommends every child have an eye exam by an optometrist soon after 6 months of ages, before age three and every year thereafter. Children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye examps thanks to the Pediatric Essential Healthy Benefit in the Affordable Care Act, through age 18. 

As you get your family ready for back to school,  I would encourage you to learn more about the importance of getting a comprehensive eye exam done every year if you don't already and help spread the word!

You can connect with the AOA on Twitter and Facebook.

Champions for Kids Purell Lend a Hand Program

Posted by Jenna | Thursday, August 07, 2014

**I participated in this program on behalf of Champions for Kids and PURELL and have been compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

With August here it has finally hit me that school will be starting up in just a couple of weeks. Soon two of my kiddos will be back to school which meant we recently spent an evening back to school shopping! It's always fun to do with the kids, as they get excited about all their new supplies and gearing up for the new year! Now that I have two in school I realized more this year how the glue, scissors, folders, etc can add up quickly and is not something everyone can afford (especially the more kids they have).

Starting the school year off on the right foot is important for every child, but for millions of Americans children who live in poverty, they simply do not have the luxury! Thankfully, PURELL Hand Sanitizer has partnered with Champions for Kids and WalMart to help! They want to help ensure students have the supplies they need as they head back to school with the PURELL Lend a Hand Program!

When I was first introduced to this program, I was excited as I'm a big fan of PURELL products. Hand hygiene is one of the most important measures a person can take to reduce the spread of germs that cause illness and infection. Hand hygiene is especially important for school-aged children because they are spending the most time in one room. A study by the makers of PURELL Hand Sanitizer has shown the absenteeism caused by illness was 50% lower in classrooms that used PURELL Hand Sanitizer regularly and implemented a hand hygiene education program than those classrooms that did not.
That's why we're always sure to stock up when it's time for back-to-school - in the car and backpacks especially!

I was so thrilled when asked to be a part of this program and take part in helping children in our community. How the program works....

1. GATHER your family, friends and neighbors for a Lend a Hand Project! Ask guests to bring items kids need in the classroom: pencils, paper, crayons, folders, hand sanitizer, wipes and tissues.

2. LEARN about the needs of children in your community and ways you can help. How can you share your time or resources?

3. GIVE the items you collect to a teacher, school, food bank, or children's shelter.

4. SHARE your project at championsforkids.org/share. How many people were involved and how many items did you collect?

We decided to gather some family and ask them to bring some school supplies and of course, PURELL Hand Sanitizer, with them so we could assemble some supplies to bring to the kids' classrooms.

It feels great to help out in a way that I know will help families right in our own town and best of all...I was able to get the kids involved in helping!! What a wonderful thing to do as a family. They loved going through the supplies and getting them ready to take to school.

Once we had everything separated for their classrooms, we got it put in bookbags and ready to take to their teachers!!

This has started a tradition for our family and one I know will continue for many years to come! I hope you will consider taking part in this wonderful initiative as well. You can access PURELL coupons here.

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