Children's Books, Giveaways, Parenting, Reviews

A Review & Giveaway from FlattenMe Personalized Books and Gifts

Book Review and Giveaway

Reading has always been an important part of the daily routine in our household. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since childhood and knew would someday become common practice when I eventually had children of my own. When I was pregnant with C, I found myself reading to her in utero (which, now that I look back, sounds a little crazy) and that trend continued after she was born. Now that a little older, she’s better able to understand and follow sequences of events. Reading to her has transitioned from looking at pictures to enjoying (toddler appropriate) storylines. I’ve noticed that she’s started to develop a passion and love for books and reading which is probably why I was so elated for the opportunity to review a personalized book from FlattenMe.Com. The company has also graciously offered to giveaway a personalized book to one of you (more on that below).

Owl Always Love You Personalized Book

“Owl Always Love You”, written by Robyn Spizman and illustrated by Erica Leighton, is a ‘bedtime story for little night owls’ (who doesn’t love owls?!). Each page is beautifully illustrated and sends a message of abounding love for the main character (which, in my book, is my daughter). It’s a reminder to children that they are loved, always and unconditionally. The pages compare the love we have for our children to things found in nature and daily life like a cradle loving to rock, rain loving a cloud, and kites loving to fly. The message is simple and easy for children to understand: they are special and they are loved.

The hardback book is comprised of fourteen thick, easy to turn story pages each with its own unique and beautiful illustration. You can take a peek at each individual page online here. FlattenMe.com also offers personalized photo books, journals, tshirts, wall art, and more online which make for great gifts for every family member. FlattenMe has offered to host a giveaway for one lucky reader to enjoy a Keepsake personalized Owl book of their very own (less the cost of shipping, which is $3.99).

To Enter (each option earns one entry):

  • “Like” the FlattenMe Facebook page and post a message on their wall telling them that #ItsAnOrdinaryBlog sent you (be sure to use the # hashtag so I can see the post).
  • Head on over to the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page and tell me what your favorite thing about the Owl Always Love You book is.
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me who you would personalize this sweet book for.

A winner will be randomly drawn on Friday November 1st. As always, good luck and my the odds be ever in your favor!

Flatten Me

While FlattenMe sent a personalized copy of “Owl Always Love You” free of charge in exchange for my review and giveaway, I am under no obligation to write a positive review and all expressed thoughts are uniquely my own. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions: ItsAnOrdinaryBlog@gmail.com.

Children's Books, Mad About It Mondays, Parenting, Rants, Reviews

Mad About It Monday: The Going To Bed Book

Welcome to Mad About It Monday

Mad About It Monday- Copyright It's An Ordinary Blog

…because passive aggressive Facebooking was so yesterday…

It’s been a while since my last Mad About It Monday post in this series and I thought I’d bring it back with something that’s been on my mind for a long, long time.

I love being a mom.  I love the time that I get to spend with my two year old, snuggled on the couch, reading stories together.  But good Lord Almighty there are a lot of books out there and some them are just downright (as Mr. T would say,) “Absoludicrous”.

You might remember my expose on a guide for stalkers cleverly disguised as a classic children’s book or my thoughts on the worst parenting example ever.  Today, I want to dedicate this post to a book that’s been grinding my gears form almost two years.

the-going-to-bed-book

The Going to Bed Book

Filled with nonsensical nonsense, “The Going to Bed Book” has been a popular bedtime story for the last 31 years.  Before it makes its way into your book basket, I must air my grievances with this so-called children’s classic.

Now, you might think that I’m going to talk about what a bad idea it is to exercise right after bed. About how any activity that creates adrenaline and increases one’s heart-rate is not going to be conducive to a restful night’s sleep. Furthermore, it is pretty nasty that they are exercising after they’ve taken a bath.

But, I’m not going to talk about that.

You might also think that I’m going to talk about how illogical it is for a lion, elephant, and moose, among others to share the same bathtub in an effective or safe manner. You may suspect that I’ll mention that, based upon the Archimedes’ principle of water displacement, the tub would have to exponentially larger than depicted in order to support the level of bouyant force exerted by the combined weight of all of those wild animals.

However, I’m not going to talk about that either.

What I want to talk about is this:

Going To Bed Book Lion Hunts Bunny

That bunny might be getting ready for bed, but you can tell he’s pretty sure that he’s going to become the lion’s breakfast.

AND NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE.  Somebody had to have purchased all of these custom-fitted pajamas and specialized exercise equipment, but they seem to have forgotten that these are wild animals and no amount of messed up rhyming bedtime routine is going to deny the inherent laws of nature.

As the parent of a toddler, I am in no hurry to explain the entirely justifiable fear within that bunny’s eyes.

Thanks for trying to steal my child’s innocence, Sandra Boynton.

Goodnight.

Children's Books, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Parenting, Tutorials

The Easter Basket

Do you remember when I asked on Facebook for some Easter gift basket ideas for C?! Well…Here’s the finished product!

Easter Basket Ideas

My husband and I are not big fans of candy ourselves and want to be careful about how much exposure our own daughter has to sugary sweets. Let me preface this by saying that I don’t judge other parents who give their children sweets, it’s just not a choice that we make for our child and, in my opinion, it’s a lot easier to prevent a problem than to try to stop it later on down the road. For that reason, we don’t keep it in the house. One of the biggest sellers on Easter, it seems, is the candy that comes in the eggs and in the baskets that children enjoy each year so for parents who don’t want to give their children sweets, it’s important to find other alternatives for their baskets. Armed with your fabulous ideas and a $25 budget, I went out on a mission for C’s 2013 basket.

Extra Small Heart Box from Target

Rather than spending my money on a basket that will either be thrown out after we use it or that will sit in the closet collecting dust until next year, I wanted to take a more logical approach for our “basket” this year. So I found this adorable Circo XS Heart box at my local Target for under four dollars. It was the perfect size for the goodies I put inside it.

Non Traditional Easter Basket

One of C’s latest obsessions is painting (any kind of craft, really) and so I picked up some blank paper that we can use for quick projects at home. Since it is the tallest/largest item, I placed it in the back of the box.

Easter Basket Ideas for Toddlers

Then I added in an adorable picture frame that I found on clearance for $3.98 and a fun pool toy that we can use in the coming months. We’re getting ready to convert C’s nursery into a big girl room and I thought the picture frame might be the ideal way to have a picture of my husband and I in our daughter’s room (so we can be with her while she sleeps).

Non Traditional Easter Basket Ideas

I had a coupon from Target for $2 off two American Greeting cards and knew I wanted to find the perfect card for C.

Unconventional Easter Basket Ideas

I finished the box with some detangling spray, sidewalk chalk, leg warmers, and an Easter book before adding in the pink crinkled paper to give it that finished look. The pink “grass” will go into a ziplock bag and into my holiday box to be reused next year. If you’re using that kind of fake grass this year (it’s only .50 at Target) I would encourage you to do the same…or to recycle it when you’re done.

Non Traditional Easter Ideas for Toddlers

I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it on Easter morning!

What are your plans for Easter?!

Children's Books, Clothes, Current Events, Giveaways, Reviews

Growing Children Are Expensive: Here’s How I Budget (Plus Another Giveaway!)

In case you don’t realize this yet, let me clue you in on something….kids are expensive! In the first two years of life, they need new wardrobes every few months none of which they’ll never be able to wear again once they grow out of it. Now that my daughter is two she’s growing out of her clothes less quickly than she was in 2011 and 2012. And since I’m a stay at home mom it’s still important for us to stick to our budget when it comes to getting new clothes for C. One of my favorite ways to save some money while hunting for some great finds is shopping our local consignment sales. The Kid’s Closet Consignment sale is coming up in Blue Springs this week and so I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about the sale, what kind of stuff you can expect to find there, and to share a special giveaway that owners Kevin and Jill Moxley have graciously offered to six of my lucky readers.

Kid's Closet Connection

If you missed last week’s post about Kid’s Closet Connection, where I discussed being a consignor, you can find it here:

Selling at Kid’s Closet Connection

At a KCC sale you can expect to find name brand clothing and shoes for your little one at a fraction of retail cost. They have strict guidelines for consignors so you can rest assured knowing that the clothes you find will be well taken care of. When it comes to second-hand items, it really doesn’t get much better than that. Not sure what I mean?! Take a look:

Old Navy Outfit For Toddlers

I created an outfit with items that I would definitely buy for my own daughter and piece together for a fun Spring day out. From what I’ve seen, a lot of items that you find at the Kid’s Closet Sales come from Old Navy, Target, JcPenny, Gap, and other more popular clothing stores for kids and families.

Here’s a breakdown of what I would spend if I walked into Old Navy right now to purchase these items:

$10.00 on the Jeans (On sale from $16.94)

$12.94 for the Graphic Tee

$16.94 on the Hoodie

$13.00 on the Shoes (On sale from $16.94)

$6.94 on the Socks

For a total of $59.82!

In my experience shopping at these consignment sales, I’ve been able to find jeans for five dollars a pair, shirts for as little as $1.00 (usually two to three dollars), Jackets for around four dollars, shoes for under five dollars, and large quantities of socks for just a couple of dollars. Given what I’ve learned, I would venture to say that this outfit would likely cost me  around $15.00 total. And if I shopped on half price day, it would be even less, making the Kid’s Closet Consignment sale the ideal way to shop for your little one.

I remember the first time I went to a consignment sale in my area. It was Autumn 2010 when I was pregnant with C. I found maternity clothes, newborn clothes, and infant toys that were great assets to have on hand when C was born. I was surprised to see that there were high chairs, breast pumps, bedding, and just about anything you would need for infants, toddlers, and young children. I’m excited to explore the upcoming Spring sales and see what goodies we can find for our little lady.

All that said, the Kid’s Closet Connection owners have decided to do another great giveaway on my blog. They’re giving away six passes for early admission to the 1/2 price event on Friday evening. Interested in getting one?! Head on over to my Facebook page for the details on how you can enter.

Kid's Closet Connection

Planning to go to the sale this weekend?! Here’s what you need to know:

Kid’s Closet Connection Blue Springs Sale

425 NE Mock Ave. Blue Springs, MO

(Inside Sports City at I-70 & Adams Dairy Parkway)

Thursday March 28th: 10am-7:30pm

Friday March 29th: 10am-7:30pm

Saturday March 30th: Noon-5pm (*half price day for most items)

*Friday March 29th 11am-noon: FREE exotic animal show featuring 8 animals at the sale!*

Kid's Closet Sale

Children's Books, Parenting, Reviews

“I’ll Love You Forever”: A How To Guide For Stalkers?!?!

Parents: Be careful of this book.

Cleverly disguised as a sweet, innocent children’s book it’s really a well written how-to for would be stalkers.

C was given this book when she was an infant as a gift from my Great Aunt P. When we first started reading it, I’ll admit, I thought it was sweet. It starts out with a new mother holding her dear son in her arms in a rocking chair. “Aww,” I thought, “we’re going to love this book.” The book takes us through the journey from infant and toddlerhood when the boy is two years old, testing his boundries, and driving his mother crazy. Still, though, when the boy sleeps at night the mother visits his room and gets a little snuggle time in. Having a toddler of my own, I think that’s actually really sweet. As your children get older, it’s hard to fit in that snuggle time unless they’re sleeping…

At a certain point, though, parents have to let their children grow up. This behavior of sneaking into his room in the middle of the night to hold and rock her child remains a habit for this mother well into her son’s teenage years at which point it just becomes creepy.  So long as the child is still living at home, I can look past (and understand to a certain extent) wanting to keep your children closer. Does this mother stop sneaking into her grown child’s room in the middle of the night when he moves into a home of his own? Nope, she sure doesn’t.

One would think her son would have moved far, far away to get away from his overbearing, no doubt “helicopter” parent, but instead he opts to purchase a nice, cozy house across town.

“But sometimes on dark nights the mother got into her car and drove across town. If all the lights in her son’s house were out, she opened his bedroom window, crawled across the floor, and looked up over the side of his bed…”

I’ll tell you the exact point where the behavior goes from sweet, innocent attachment (albiet strange) parenting to inappropriate stalking: when the mother ties a ladder to the top of her car and breaks into her sons home in the middle of the night to watch him sleep. She’s breaking several laws here… Can you imagine being that adult child and waking up to find your parent (who lives miles away) standing over you in your sleep? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! What kind of message does that send? This spry old woman, dressed as a cat burgler, sneaking into the windows of her grown children in the middle of the night. Does she also take pictures? Have hidden video cameras? Where does it end?!

And this son…WHO is he?! Who doesn’t notice when someone picks them up and sings to them in the middle of the night. Is he deaf? Does he just sleep through anything? And where is the wife in this? I see a man sleeping in a twin size bed alone at night. Does she know what this crazy mother is up to and wants no part of it? Do they not lock their windows at night? What about a security system?

Here’s what this book teaches-

-If you love someone, keep a close eye on them.

-It’s okay to sneak into someone’s room just to watch them sleep.

-No one will ask questions if you load up a ladder, drive across town, and use said ladder to sneak into someone’s home.

When I think of her, I imagine this family:

Children's Books, Parenting, Reviews

“We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” – Parenting Fail

Unfortunately, one of my daughter’s current favorite books is “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt“. We’ve read it probably a thousand times, maybe more, since we got it and I have to say it’s one of the worst examples of parenting I’ve come across in a children’s book to date.

The book starts off fairly normal…A family heads out on an adventure together. Sounds fun, right?! Wrong. By page six things take a turn for the worse. Here we have two parents with three children, the youngest of which couldn’t be more than two, with their dog heading through a deep, cold river. And what do they do?! They go through it. Seriously?! In what universe is it ever a good idea to take your children through a deep, cold river. That’s downright dangerous. Ready.gov indicates that a mere six inches of moving water is enough to take you off your feet. Couldn’t they have been more prepared? Surely they knew that their journey would lead them towards the river. A boat sure would have been a nice thought, don’t you think?

On page eleven the family’s journey leads them to a big, dark forest. Now I don’t have an issue with a good day hike, so long as you’re prepared. By now these children are most certainly hungry. Did the parents pack snacks? How about a First Aid kit? Flashlights? Anything? No, they didn’t. Really?! REALLY?!

The next step in their quest to find a bear leads them directly into a snowstorm with no coats, no boots, and no protection from the dangerous weather. One would think, at this point, that they would give up and head home. Do they? Nope. They sure don’t.  It’s also about this point in the book that one begins to question certain things.  Has this journey on foot through a raging river, a terrifying forest, and a swirling snowstorm, all happened on the same day?   Where the heck do these people live that they encounter every horror that mother nature can throw at them?  If, as logic would dictate, this story is an amalgamation of several different bear hunts, why are they always in the same clothes?  One of the girls is in a little dress.  Not exactly your go-to bear hunting gear, or appropriate for a snowstorm or river fording for that matter.

After all of this, the adventurous sixsome heads directly into a cave.  Ok, more questions.  Is this actually a real bear hunt?!?! Throughout most of the story the natural assumption is that this family is going on a nice, albeit unusually treacherous, walk around nature.  The guise of this family adventure is that they are on a pretend bear hunt.  That’s kind of nice, right?  It’s fun to pretend.  Now they are strolling into a cave, which is pretty much what you would do if you are really looking to hunt and kill a bear.  The only problem with that is they have no weapons and a toddler in tow.   What is their plan?  Throw the baby at it and hit it with a stick?  Anyway, they waltz their way into the cave,  and what do they happen upon?!

A bear. Of course. And so they run. Back through the cave, they brave the snowstorm once again, trip over things making their way back through the forest, trek back through the mud, wade through the water, run across the grass, and finally make their way back home before realizing that going on a bear hunt was probably the worst possible choice they could have made for their day.

What about the bear, you may ask? He just gives up and goes home…like any bear who’s spent an afternoon chasing an entire family would do. I imagine the bear walks away sullenly with this music playing in the background.

What’s the point of all this?  I have no idea.  Maybe it’s that we don’t have any control over what our kids choose as their favorite books.  Even though I think this book is silly and weird, C loves it and that’s what really matters.  When she gets older we might discuss the need to be better prepared for snowstorms, and how venturing into dark caves in bear country may not be the wisest decision, but for now I will read it over and over as long as it makes her happy.

Or maybe we just need to buy more books so she can get a new favorite, maybe something with a family who is less reckless and more prepared.