Everything is much different this year with Covid. We had to cancel our family photos this year, or at least delay them past the holidays, but that did not stop us from having our own family photo session and nothing makes for a great holiday photo session like matching family pajamas.
We actually did them last year too so it’s become sort of a tradition for us. I’m thankful we did because the made for great Christmas cards this year that I’ll be sending out to friends and family next week.
IFFEI has some of the best styles around to choose from, so many and their sizes are perfect for most families. We went with the “What the Elf” ones this year but it was so hard to choose. We got 10-11 for both boys, medium womans for me, and large men’s for my husband because he likes them alittle big. They fit perfectly. Tylers were a tiny but big, but he’ll grow into them for next year and can still wear them comfortably this year too, so it’s even better.
The quality of the pajamas is much more than you’d expect for the price. The white portion of the pants is not see through, but breathable and not too hot. The top green is the same, it stretches if needed, but it’s a soft cotton feeling material.
I mean, I can’t get over how much these matching family pajamas really made it feel like the holidays even though Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet. We had so much fun doing this shoot to show these off to you that we forgot we were “working” on this post to show you. As a parent, I will cherish these photos for years to come and week certainly be sharing this cuteness all over my social media and family texts.
Even my 12 year old got into the spirit. I haven’t seen him smile that much in a while and it was so nice to see both boys getting along genuinely and not staring at their electronics.
Check out all of the styles they have to offer of matching Christmas pajamas on their official IFFEI store. As with most Amazon offerings, most of these are prime and you can have them in just a couple of days. There’s still time to do your own little photo shoot and create an awesome Christmas card to get out. Don’t let Covid stop you from enjoying this special family time.
My son is the absolute biggest Godzilla fan. He has been waiting for the new Godzilla vs. Kong movie since the spoiler at the end of the Godzilla King of the Monsters Movie. These toys will be BIG this year for sure! Stay tuned for amore in depth review of them, some available at Walmart now!
PLAYMONSTER Build to Battle SnapShips we previously reviewed. These are some of the items that made the toy of my tons Christmas list.
FAR OUT TOYS Crash Circuit
BONKERS TOYS with ALL NEW RYAN’S World Toys every kid has been waiting for!
Also from Bonkers Toys,
SK8 Wheel Braille toys. These are based off of the actual skate materials used by the Braille Army fans. There are some awesome blind packs and sets with ramps for all of the skate fans out there.
PLAYMONSTER Drone Home is a fun one we reviewed during a play demonstration at Sweet Suite with Playmonster. Be careful though, do not try to catch the drone, I hurt my finger pretty bad!
Sing & Snuggle Plush, and the Musical Playpad, Power Treads, MiP Arcade, Hands Full, and Brite Brush, Game Brush and Power Treads:
STEP2 Side-by-Side Push Around SUV
STEP2 Ball Buddies Adventure Center **2020 Toy Insider Winner**
BLUE MARBLE National Geographic Mega Science Magic Kits
Magic science your kids will love! These mind-blowing experiments aredesigned to be performed as a magic trick. This kit includes everythingyou need for 20 magic science experiments and a bonus experiment guidewith 30 experiments that can all be done with common household items.
•Great for ages 8 and up
•Perfect for virtual science magic show or distance learning activity
•Magic wand and gloves included to let your children play the part
•Illustrated experiment guide with kid friendly instructions
•Everything you need for 20 magic experiments
•30 bonus experiments using standard household items
Fisher-Price® Thomas & Friends™ Talking Thomas & Percy Train Set (GLK80) SRP: $49.99 | 3Y+ | Available Fall 2020 at Amazon, Target and Walmart ● Sodor is usually an island in the middle of the ocean, but sometimes, with the Fisher-Price® Thomas & Friends™ Talking Thomas & Percy Train Set, Sodor can also be in the living room. ● This highly detailed playset features favorite places from the island of Sodor, including the Vicarstown Bridge, the Railyard, the Brendam docks, and Blue Mountain. ● It also includes motorized Thomas and Percy train engines who recognize and talk to each other when they meet on the track! ● Young conductors can help Thomas and Percy work together by dropping boulders down in the Blue Mountain cave for them to load and unload along with other cargo at Bulstrode the boat and by creating their own exciting adventures all around Sodor.
MOOSE TOYS Squeakee the Balloon Dog and #FailFix dolls
SPIN MASTER Present Pets, The Animal & Much More
SUNNY DAYS Ravel Tales, Pop N Play Playhouses, Wonder Wings plush, and Maxx Action trucks
IMC TOYS NEW Cry Babies & VIP Pets
THE POP INSIDER: The Pop Insider launched its second annual Geeky Gift Guide! Check out holiday gifts for every geek 🤓 on your list.
Disclaimer – I may have been given product in exchange for some items in this blog post but all opinions are my own.
Back-To-School: Educational Products For Kids During A Pandemic
These are unprecedented times, and everything is unpredictable including when school will get back to normal.
My kids are 100% virtual learning for the foreseeable future and although they adjusting wonderfully and I couldn’t be more proud of how they’re handling this huge change, we can’t help but feel there’s something missing.
I mean, my kids get socialization as much as possible like playdates at the local parks or at friends and family’s homes, and they talk on their phones along with their computer games but there is still something missing.
It’s the hands on experience of using your brain and hands together. I was happy to try out these 2 STEM items that help with this missing aspect. I personally loved Science as a child and thought these quick experiments were just perfect for the amount of time that would hold my 8 year olds attention and keep him interest.
The first up is the Ooze Labs: Colorful Crystal Lab. The absolute best part is that it isn’t a 1 time and done kit. There is a book if experiments to choose from using some provided materials along with household staples where they can be recreated as you wish.
We started started with the first project of the booklet and continued from there. I’ll admit, we went a good 3-4 days doing these experiments and I think he got alittle bored, but the kit is still on our kitchen table ready for the next experiment to be done when he’s ready which I’m sure will be soon.
They seem safe enough for a mature child to be able to do on their own, but it’s suggested that parents are there to assist (and it’s fun for us too!).
Image: Thames and Kosmos
Manufacturer points: Explore the natural beauty and wonder of crystals by growing them yourself in many different shapes and colors! Set up your lab station — complete with beakers, test tubes, centrifuge, display dome, and more — and use safe, non-toxic crystal salts to conduct more than ten experiments in crystal formation. You can even make red, pink, blue, purple, and clear crystals using the spinning centrifuge! After you’ve completed the experiments in the kit, continue your crystal growing adventures using the cool lab setup and common materials from around your home. MSRP: $29.95; Ages 6+.
We also received some really simple but cool magnetic tiles, the Tileblox Rainbow 20Pc Set. These are great for all ages and can be used for hands on math or engineering. These can also be used for color and shape work for younger children and comes in handy to “quiz” them on how to make a rectangle, etc.. while they’re building.
Using their hands and minds is the skill we want to work on with these. It comes with a book of projects to follow along with, which my son enjoyed copying these, but then he went rogue and started creating his own creations using the blocks.
Manufacturer points: Discover the endless possibilities of Tileblox 20Pc set. With the step-by-step idea sheet, create one-of-a-kind masterpieces! A great set for beginner builders looking to explore and learn through play. Arrives with 8 Triangles and 12 Square in Rainbow colors. Each geometric shape contains magnets that let you build with endless possibilities! TileBlox is perfect for STEM education and when playtime is over, use the magnetic power to simply stack and store. MSRP: $24.99; Ages 3+
These are both Holiday gift worthy items!
DISCLAIMER: I received these items to review and share my opinion with my readers. The opinions are my own and not that of the manufacturer.
What fun! These Snap Ship toys are sure to be a holiday 2020 favorite toy, at least in my house that’s for sure.
My son received these to demonstrate for Play Monster during the Toy Insiders Sweet Suite this year and he absolutely fell in love with them! What’s better than actually loving something you have to talk about and demonstrate?
These two Snap Ship toys are just a fraction of the available options and we’ll certainly be getting more. Each one has 3-in-1 options of what you can create, and they come with a separation tool to deconstruct the toy easily and rebuild.
The fun didn’t stop at building. There’s a comic series about each character that allows the builder to really feel the characters personality and incorporate it into their play. We thought it was hilarious how tiny the little men are but they actually bend to fit into the ships cockpits.
These things have great weight to then too after they’re built, not cheap lightweight stuff like others. They feel really stable and you can really feel comfortable playing with them.
The absolute best thing about them is the price. Most are under $20 and available right on Amazon. They’re actually an Amazon #1 New Release right now too so do yourself a favor and buy some now for the Holidays before they’re sold out!
Here are the two my 8 year built all within 30 minutes each on his own which is long enough to keep him busy without needing my help and great for me lol.
It’s so cool that they come with a display stand which can stay attached to the box to keep it to build other variations or remove it and display it on its own.
Each have 3 build options as I mentioned before so it’s not a 1 trick pony.
We also built the Sabre too.
After building them both my son had fun battling them and they stayed intact which is always a plus in my book.
Overall, great new toy and we’re excited to buy more to build, especially the larger models.
Supporting small business is what’s been on my mind lately with everything going on, so I have been making a personal effort to shout out and use small businesses whenever I can and I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed more bugs inside of my home lately. It could be because I’m actually home more since I’m working from home, or it could be because of the change of weather or less people out and about in the world to mess with nature. But I’m NOT OK with it!
We’ve always had an issue outside my home since we purchased it 9 years ago with reoccurring yellow jackets and hornets. In New Jersey they’re a nuisance to begin with, but even more so when you have young children like I do. My boys have had to come inside and stop their fun playtime as a result of swarming yellow jackets seemingly out of nowhere.
I’ve had to have an exterminator come once every year to knock out their newly formed nests whether it’s in my gutters, my window siding, or even the house siding… it’s always something and ALWAYS annoying. Those are outside though, and I guess although annoying, they live here to. It’s the inside that gets me the most. A message to all mice and bugs, do not come in my house! What’s the saying? “Who ya gonna call? Ghost Busters!” Well I have a new song… “Who ya gonna call? Surf Termite & Pest Control!”
I seriously needed it when my bathroom was being remodeled and after 9 years we found the real source of the annoying nuisance yellow jackets – UNDER MY TUB! Can you believe it? The poor contractors lifted out my 50 year old cast iron tub only to release a dust cloud of angry yellow jackets into my home. Yup. In… to… my… home. Thankfully they’re long gone now, but it was terrifying.
Just last week my husband saw a few centipedes crawling up our steps to upstairs late at night and just hearing that skived me out… I’ve seen many more spiders, huge hornets, and tons of ants this year already and Summer just started. Sometimes we can handle it on our own, but how do you know when it’s time to call an exterminator or pest expert?
For me, it’s when I’ve tried so many things already and none have been successful for more than a day. Sometimes the money I spend on all of these so claimed “top items” will wind up more than a professional service. And the sad part is, even with high hopes and the number one name brands at the big box stores, I am here to go on record that, they do not always work. It’s especially bad this year and calls for something more than store bought bug spray or traps.
That’s where the experts come in, and if you’re in South Central or South Jersey, you’re in luck!
Servicing the Jersey Shore for over 30 years, Surf Termite & Pest Control is a family-owned and operated company with experience in safe, humane and effective elimination of pests, unique to the Jersey Shore environment.
Owner and operator Steve Wrzesnewski personally knows and creates a plan for every single customer’s needs so your experience and satisfaction are guaranteed.
The number one exterminator in Neptune city, they specialize in many different services. They’ll perform a thorough inspection and come up with a treatment plan that works best for your home needs.
What’s even better is the ongoing coverage option they offer. Their Home Protection Plan (H.P.P.) which includes four quarterly service visits annually with preventive treatment of the interior and exterior of your home, and specific attention to the pest control issues appropriate to the season and weather.
They offer FREE Emergency calls during normal business hours and this coverage applies to your entire property including attics, basements, mailboxes, fences, garages, sheds, outdoor play sets and pool houses.
It’s the best best for your money if you’re serious about pest control.
So what kind of pests are covered and more importantly, taken care of?
Pests Covered by their Home Protection Plan:
Additionally, they offer a Home Protection Plan Plus (H.P.P. +). This plan covers everything found in the H.P.P. above, plus:
And that isn’t all. They can help with many other pest issues.
Surf Termite & Pest Control offers a comprehensive list of pest management services, including:
Residential pest control
Commercial pest control
Termite treatment and prevention
Wood-destroying insect inspections
Documentation for real estate transactions
Structural pest exclusion services
Humane wildlife removal
Tick and mosquito services
They also offer Integrated Pest Management plans (IPMs) – techniques to minimize pesticide use and maximize safety for families, schools and businesses.
This kit, Solar Powered Rovers by Thames Kosmos is so awesome! Myself and my son put 2 of them together so far during our staycation and it’s super fun.
We had to cancel our vacations this year, but that won’t stop up from having fun even if it’s a camp out in the backyard, a night of fun indoors or a safari in our state of NJ.
Most STEM kits cost so much money, but this is a super affordable and fun option that ever parent can surprise they kids with. Take it on the road, camping, or just have fun at home. This one kit contains 5 different options and you can build each and take apart easily. At just $19.95 it’s a steal!
These toys are great to bring on road trips for added fun on the road or at stops for the night a hotel. What’s great is even though it comes with 5 projects, the options are endless as you can make up your own robotic fun.
*Disclaimer: I was sent this product for review but all opinions are my own.
Have you ever seen a close-up photograph of the Moon, with its fascinating cratered landscape? With this telescope, you can investigate the moon’s surface, search the night sky for constellations and planets, or simply watch the birds at the bird feeder in the backyard! This telescope also lets you see squirrels, deer, and other wild animals up close. And, it’s perfect for pretending to be a pirate sailing the seven seas! This 12x magnification power telescope with durable body and quality optics can be used for terrestrial (land) observations as well as astronomical (night sky) observations. Ages 6+ MSRP: $19.95.
Create 3D structures from 2D nets with Magformers Basic Plus 14Pc Set. Build with 4 Squares, 8 Triangles and 2 Inner Circle Square shapes. Create houses, towers and our ‘magic ball’. Learn to build using combine, roll and pull-up techniques and see what your imagination can create! Build along with the step-by-step instructions and develop color and shape recognition, fine motor skills and problem-solving ability. The original and authentic Magformers. Perfect for brain development, critical thinking and STEM education. Follow the Step-by-step educational idea booklet for ideas and instructions. Each geometric shape contains magnets that never reject, so you’ll always hear the Magformers click. When playtime is over, use the magnetic power to simply stack and store. MSRP: $24.99; ages 3+.
Do you remember learning your first card game? How about winning at an old-fashioned game of solitaire? Or that holiday tradition of Gin Rummy after dinner? Since 1885, Bicycle playing cards have been a part of household gaming. Known for its quality and rich heritage, Bicycle® playing cards have been bringing people together for generations. Every Bicycle® playing card deck is specially crafted so that you can trust Bicycle® cards performance, hand after hand. Great for all card games. Great for all players. MSRP: $3.99.
Want to build fun solar-powered vehicles and devices that move using electricity generated directly from sunlight? With this kit, you can construct five motorized models. Build three types of solar cars, a solar fan, and a solar robot model. Conduct science experiments with each model to learn about gear ratios, solar cells, and more. The ultralight materials, including strong bamboo rods, make your models speedy and durable. A modular gearing system lets you test out three different gear ratios. Experiment with a solar cell, electric motor, gears, and ultralight materials. Build five different solar-powered models. Learn about how solar cells work and about the energy from the sun. Ages 8+ MSRP: $19.95.
I had the pleasure of receiving some items from Noodle & Boo and Tyler and I had our usual amount of fun unboxing the items they sent us to try out! I know you’re probably an unboxing junky like me and the next best thing to actually unboxing is watching an unboxing video, so before I tell you what’s IN the box, check it out…
Noodle & Boo products are made in the USA with only the finest ingredients, and are safe and gentle enough to be used on newborns and during pregnancy. And did I mention they smell exactly like a baby should smell?
I’m talking about that REALLY want to sniff a babies scalp smell. That innocent I’m only 1 week old smell that every newborn has, because why cover it up to smell like soap? Even if you don’t have a newborn, these products are just as great for toddlers and even the bigger kids like my son who is 8.
They have so many items to choose from, and most are sold in stores like target or off course online on their website too.
As a mom myself, I like to think of myself as a knowledge bank for new moms. Especially with a platform like this, I like to share only the best with you guys and right now, hand sanitizer is a must have. Anyone who is anyone is trying to get their hands on the good stuff, not the no-name “is this really just water” items the grocery and pharmacy stores are stocking these days, and well.. I’ll let you in on alittle secret.. pssst… they’ve got it! And not only is it real true hand sanitizer, it’s baby and kid safe hypoallergenic hand sanitizer, that you don’t have to be worried about touching your baby after sanitizer.
And what’s best is that new moms who may wasnt close family to visit their new bundle of joy during this crazy time can be sure to make them use it before touching the baby and they won’t smell like harsh alcohol. It’s 99% effective and perfect for toddlers too.
I’ve tried them and here are some of my favorites! Clock on photo to go to item page:
12 oz. Hand Sanitizer
Kills 99% of germs
NEWBORN DAILY ESSENTIALS
for complete care from head-to-toe
BABY LAUNDRY GIFT SET
Hypoallergenic and paraben free
for clean and fresh ambiance
CALMING BUBBLE BATH
for bath time fun & relaxation
The last item smells soooo amazing you can smell it through the package! Great for mom and baby or toddler bath time.
About the brand owner:
Christine Burger, San Fran small business owner who 15 years ago created a company because she couldn’t find safe skin products for her babies, and now sells online and Target, has a major success on her hands. Made in the USA Instant Hand Sanitizer and Ultimate Cleansing Cloths (and many other products), has made Noodle & Boo a Go-To in this pandemic. Recognized for its commitment to formulations made with biocompatible ingredients, each product is formulated to the highest standards.
*Disclaimer: I received items in exchange for my honest review and all opinions are my own.
I have been a big fan of meal delivery services since they started a couple of years ago. My main go to is Hello Fresh because I love their variety of meals and flexible weekly options. I have done a few posts reviewing the service, and even included some of the meals that you can make yourself within those posts.
I can tell you one thing though, during this quarantine and pandemic going on, these meal delivery services have saved my butt. Literally. Think about it, instead of gearing up mask and gloves to go to the supermarket surrounded by others who potentially can expose you to the virus, only to go up to the produce and meat sections to realize they’re out of almost everything OR prices have gone us drastically due to demand and you are only able to get 1 or 2 packages of fresh meat. It’s a nightmare.
With these meal delivery kits, they come like clockwork. Their sites say there may be delays, but mine have all been coming on time, and very fresh when they arrive. I have been able to have these 3 dinners worth of amazing restaurant quality meals delivered to me without fail during this quarantine and loving every week of it. I’m not gonna lie.. I even had both Hello Fresh AND Home Chef delivered one week because I forgot to shut one off for the week since I bounce back and forth, and it was 6 dinners worth! Think it’s expensive? Think again… no contract cancel any time, and your first box is only $35 if you sign up through an existing member – otherwise it’s $59.95. That’s still less than $10 a person for dinner per day.
Try it for yourself, save $35 on your first box by signing up 🡪HERE🡨
My new kick I’m on is Home Chef, I started it just a few weeks ago. It is the same basic idea as Hello Fresh, a collection of meals that you choose from a list, or if you forget to chose then the meals are chosen for you. The difference I have noticed between Home Chef vs Hello Fresh is that Home Chef does some of the work for you & the ingredients are more on a professional culinary level even though the meals are simple. They’re both $59.95 for a 3 meal 2 person plan, and I am usually able to get 2 1/2 meals out of it for me, my husband and my oldest son (my youngest is too picky to eat anything good…).
With that being said, they do an AMAZING job with outlining the recipe and even a novice cook can feel like a chef.. I guess that’s where the got the name from!
Here is an example of a complex risotto recipe I was able to easily make in a matter of 30 minutes;
This is their Shrimp & Bok Choy with Coconut Risotto and it was A-Mazing!
Simple step by step recipe with the freshest ingredients ready to go. See if you can follow along with the recipe card and keep in mind all ingredients are provided in separate little meal bags for you although you do need to sharpen up your knife skills and chop;
Prepare the Ingredients
Remove any discolored outer leaves from bok choy and trim ends. Cut stems into ¼” slices and coarsely chop leaves. Keep stems and leaves separate. Trim and thinly slice white portions of green onions. Thinly slice remaining green onions on an angle. Keep white and green portions separate. Pat shrimp dry.
Start the Risotto
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp. olive oil. Add rice and white portions of green onions to hot pot. Stir occasionally until rice is toasted and opaque, 1-2 minutes. Add 1 cup boiling water from small pot and mirepoix base to pot with rice. Rice should just be covered by water. Stir often until nearly all water is absorbed.
Finish the Risotto
Add ½ cup boiling water from small pot and stir often until nearly all water is absorbed. Repeat this process, stirring often, 18-20 minutes. Taste risotto as you cook, checking for tenderness. When rice has no more “bite” or crunch, it’s done. There may be water left. Stir in coconut milk until combined and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir constantly until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from burner and stir in green portions of green onions (reserve a pinch for garnish) and ¼ tsp. salt. Cover and set aside.
Cook the Shrimp
Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add shrimp to hot pan and cook undisturbed until seared on one side, 2-3 minutes. Flip, and cook until shrimp reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, 1-2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Keep pan over medium-high heat.
Cook Vegetables and Finish Dish
Add 1 tsp. olive oil and bok choy stems to hot pan and stir occasionally until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Add bok choy leaves and stir constantly until leaves are wilted, 1-2 minutes. Stir in shrimp, garlic and ginger sauce, and ¼ tsp. salt until heated through, 30-60 seconds. Remove from burner. Plate dish as pictured on front of card, topping risotto with shrimp-vegetable mixture and garnishing with toasted coconut and reserved green portions of green onions. Bon appétit!
Keep in mind all images above are copywrite of Home Chef and shown from my online cookbook. Yes, they even give you a cookbook in your online account that stores all of the past recipes you’ve made on their plan so you can remake them yourself by buying the ingredients.
I took it a step further and have ordered a large 3 ring recipe binder and a 3 hole punch and will be adding all of the Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef meal cards to so that I can have them all on hand to make them whenever I feel the need to.
There are other meal plans as well like FRESHLY if you are not a fan of cooking. They’re pre-made meals and perfect for take and go lunch’s for work or quick dinners. They are microwavable and freezer ready. They’re very tasty but a little expensive in my opinion for the portions although the more you buy the cheaper they get and they do have $20 off of your first order by signing up 🡪HERE🡨 .
Hope you try one of these meal plans out, they are definitely coming in handy during this shut down in New Jersey! Comment your thoughts if you’ve tried any of the meal plans I mentioned or any others that I haven’t.
You and I as Mothers; sounds like something I’d want to read! Jersey Native Laura Prepon has published her new book and it’s on shelves now. Being a mom of a newborn is so difficult. But being a mom of a newborn, and a 2 1/2 year old, living in NYC must be the most difficult of all.
Laura is handling it with style and grace. She admittedly threw on the sweater she was wearing just for us, and that she is usually sporting a baby scarf shall these days since she spends most of her time breastfeeding her newborn son who’s name she would not spit out no matter how hard we tried!
We talked about her new baby boy and how much she was already prepared for isolation without even knowing it, about her daughter Ella “marking her territory” when new baby brother came home, and about the importance of routine in her home right now.
Limiting screen time is so hard these days when we are “sheltering in place”, but there are some great options like the Non-profit Child Mind Institute to get you and your children through these tough time. They have online times from 10am-4pm weekdays and cover topics for young children, teens, coping skills, special needs and more during this unreal time.
Here are some awesome screenshots from our zoom “Mom Time” as I like to call it. It actually gives me a reason to do my hair and makeup, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this to occupy my mind during this difficult time
Melissa was trying out Laura’s side pony and I think she has a new favorite hairdo!
I can’t even lie, any time I see a zoom chat of squares, I immediately think of the Brady Bunch intro. Maybe that’s a good idea for next time!
If you know an essential worker you’d like to recognize during this difficult time – send The Moms Denise or Melissa a message or tag #Mamarazzionline nominating them. Who know’s, maybe they’ll wind up getting to speak to someone awesome like Laura!