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Friday, March 30, 2012

Vanilla Gorilla: A Review!

Vanilla Gorilla
Big Lettuce Studio:  Boston
Got a child who likes poetry and learning about exotic animals from all over the world?  You should check out Vanilla Gorilla, written by David Harrow and illustrated by Judith Krimski.  The illustrations were created using a technique called collage art, and they are quite exquisite.  Your child will feel like they are traveling the world as they learn about many different exotic animals from all different types of habitats. You'll read clever verse about animals like the aye-aye and the fanolaka!  Some of these scientific names can be difficult to pronounce, but you and your child will certainly have fun learning together as you flip through all 25 pages. They have even left space at the end of the book for your child to create their very own page about a favorite creature, which can then be shared on the Vanilla Gorilla Facebook page.  Kids of all ages will enjoy Vanilla Gorilla, but it's probably best for the school-aged child.  Check it out today!
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I was given a copy of Vanilla Gorilla to take part in this review.  

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

On the Fence?

Love Bites
21 Months of Goodness
This is why I am back on the fence.  The fence may be pointy and rotting and have sharp edges that could lead to serious splinters on the rear, but I can't seem to get off.  Last week I wasn't anywhere near this fence.  This is my life.  The more the merrier?  And he wants a roof box?  Can the kids ride in it?  Is he on to me?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Best Roof Box?


We can fit a lot of stuff into the Traverse when we need to, but I've been thinking it would be nice to have some extra space.  What if we could put sandy things like beach toys and beach chairs somewhere other than in the back of the car...especially now that it's clean again.  

As I was leaving work today, I saw the great looking Traverse that parks outside my office.  
They have a Thule roof box...hmmm that'd be a good place to put those beach toys when we go down to Rhode Island to visit Grandma and Grandad.  But, I wonder if our readers have other recommendations. 

What's the best roof box for a big family like ours?  Thule, Yakima, other brands?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stroller Goodness: Giveaway!

I'm feeling generous.  It's probably because I've been hanging out with a number of cute babies with my bloggy friends.  I got cuddles with 5 week old Tessa, from Don't Mind the Mess, this past weekend.  Man, is she a sweet one.  Tessa's mom says #4 is headed my way.  She says she can "see it in my eyes," whatever that means.  Tessa's pretty damn cute, but I'm pissed that no one took our picture together.

And then there were the Blissdom babies.  I make friends with babies and their mommies wherever I go.  I like to talk to people at Target about shampoo for goodness sake, can you imagine what I do when I see a newborn?  Yup, I ask a lot of questions, make faces and embarassing baby-talk noises.

And now, for the Blissdom babies...
Not sure of this one, but mom knew I was being intrusive during a photography session.  Isn't it nice?  I was  learning about aperture.  
Callan and his beautiful baby-wearing Mommy from Stilettos and Diapers.  Yup, there's a baby sleeping in there during a Rascal Flatts concert!
Dylan from Love Live Grow
Let's get back to generous.  I'm giving away a super soft Special Collection Bugaboo Paul Frank stroller blanket and Hold On Handles for strollers!  We all know fleece blankets keep kids warm, but this one is especially cute.  The Bizzy Bugs (ladybug single handle set) teach kids to stay within arms reach when walking alongside mom or dad.  It's an adorable little handle keeping everyone under control while walking around town or at the mall.  It snaps easily onto most strollers.

Here's how to enter to win: 
  • Leave a comment below
For extra entries, you can do the following!  Please leave one extra comment for each that you complete.
The Goods
Sound good?  Sure it does. Good luck.  Contest period ends on April 12th, 2012 at 8pm.  One winner will have 48 hours to claim prize before a new winner is selected.  Continental U.S. entries only please.  Good luck!  

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Just Right Books

I know that a lot of you have older children who can already read.  But maybe reading doesn't come easy for your child.   Maybe reading is difficult, boring, not on your child's list of favorite things to do.  Rest assured, you are not alone.

One of many important things to remember when selecting books for your child is the "JUST RIGHT" rule.  We teachers typically place books into three categories for kids:  EASY, JUST RIGHT, or CHALLENGING.

Silent reading time typically calls for JUST RIGHT BOOKS.  During independent reading, children are left to practice their reading strategies on their own.  If these books are too challenging, reading will be cumbersome and NOT fun.  Instead, reading will cause frustration.  If you want your child to learn to enjoy reading, please don't hand them Harry Potter when they are certainly not ready for it.

So how you do know when a book is JUST RIGHT for your child?



  • First and foremost, be sure your child is reading something he or she finds interesting.  Have your child make a list of things that they like and go from there!  Non-fiction is a great choice if your child has some good interests!  What about National Geographic for Kids?  Sports Illustrated for Kids?  
  • Remember the Five Finger Rule:  Open the book to any page.  Have your child read it.  Have your child keep track of the number of unknown or difficult words on the page.  If there are five or more words, pick an EASIER book.  (Still unsure, try the same trick on another page of the book.)
  • When your child reads any of the book aloud, does he or she sound choppy and slow?  If so, it's probably not the right fit.  They should sound fluent.  


Having your child read at their independent level is so very important for keeping the momentum going.  That way, they are able to practice their reading strategies independently and conquer new vocabulary words on their own.  Does your child know the Five Finger Rule?  You should ask them!

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Traverse Cleans Up Nice!

Whilst I was away at a blogging conference all day yesterday (yes, again!) in Cambridge, my darling husband and six-year-old daughter managed to clean and vacuum and scrub and polish my Chevy Traverse.  OH MY GOD.
Ready for me
Spotless
Will the kids ever be allowed in again?
I get to drive it tonight to the Gender Reveal Party!?  A what, you say?  You can get in on the action and win some amazing prizes over on the Twitter around 8pm.  More information can be found here!  Don't forget to guess boy or girl for your chance to win some stuff!

Oh, and I made so many new friends over at Blog Better Boston yesterday.  Much fun was had.  I made friends with the drink ticket girl, Katy Rose.  She was a love, passing out extra tickets to the old fogie blogger lush crowd in the back.  She even takes amazing bloggy notes.  See what I learned?  I love new friends.  

Now, go make your husband clean out your car!  Oh, I can't wait to drive it!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scotty Reiss Rings

Blue Sapphire Karma Ring
I splurged and bought this gorgeous ring for myself at Blissdom during the Handmade Marketplace.  I totally love its chunkiness, its bling factor and its sparkle.  You should get one too.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Annie Stow: Pancake Star!!!

CLICK TO VOTE!  
De Wafelbakkers was holding a talent search at Blissdom.  Would you believe I participated?  Would you believe I'm a finalist?  Would you believe I could appear in a De Wafelbakkers commercial if I win this thing.  This is super huge folks.  Super huge.  I need your votes.

This is no joke my friends.  This is big time.  And I need your help!  Please head on over and vote for me today!  It's a little thumbs up symbol under my video that says "VOTE."  I'm ever so grateful.



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Exploring Brewster, MA

Quite a view!
The house has been settled upon for our week on the Cape and it's a full on Stow family getaway happening on the Brewster flats.  It's not gonna suck.
The beach at low tide.
I seriously need to start saving for a house of my own on the flats for one day when I grow up.  Spring seems to have sprung in these parts and summer is a' coming.  Time to dig out my bikini, I mean tankini, my old fart one piece and GET. IN. SHAPE!  


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Paddy's Day

A wee leprechaun has left his mark.


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

iHappy

Blissdom was really fun.  I'm so grateful to my peeps at Ebates who made this iPad win possible.  I can't wait to play with it!  Blogging is going to so much more fun now.  

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Keeping the Chevy Clean

I love how amazing our Chevy Traverse looks in this video.  Sleek and sporty, for sure.  I have such a hard time keeping the interior of my car CLEAN.  Dunkin Donuts receipts, preschool notices and artwork, goldfish crumbs, juice box straw wrappers, tissues, wipes...it's close to impossible to keep up with the mess! What do you all do? I was thinking I need to find some sort of "trash can" for the Chevy that works.  How do you keep yours clean?  What are some tricks that work?  If only our Traverse looked like it did when it was "dirty" here. Hhhhmmmmmpppppphhhh!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

What's Up With My Grill?

Totally bummed tonight when I tried to fire up the grill.  Newly filled propane tank -- but still low flames.  Not sure what the problem is...any ideas?



What now?  Annie needs her burgers!

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I Went to WalMart

Emily and I ventured up 495N yesterday to WalMart.  It was a short shopping list, but I thought I'd save a buck if I tried WalMart.  (I never go there, really.)  And I've never done any grocery shopping there before, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Funny enough, we were in the same lot as Market Basket.  "Should we stop in?"

We quickly ran past the Family Fun Center and headed to the back corner of the store to get some Pull-Ups.  As we were deciding between cool-alerts, and overnites we heard yelling.  Lots of yelling.  It was all happening in the next aisle over by a loud, obnoxious mother.

First, my eyes began to bulge.  I looked at my Emily, whose eyes were also bulging while she was listening to every single word spoken by this lunatic mother.  A mother...how could a mother talk to a child this way.

I was cringing for Emily.  "We gotta get out of here, fast."  But part of me needed to catch a glimpse of this woman.  The poor boy was named Aidan, about 9 or 10 years old, sitting as far away from his Masshole mother as he could get, on some boxes of diapers at the end of the aisle, as his mom continued to berate and belittle him.  "You're such a spoiled brat, Aidan.  Don't you ever think about anyone else?  Oh no, it's all about what Aidan wants.  You're such a spoiled little brat.  What did you say?  Oh, and didn't I just take you to McDonald's?  Get over here so I can smack you."

She was probably around 30, pushing another little boy in a stroller, just screaming and yelling and hollering so everyone could hear.  It was so embarrassing.  I whispered to Em, "She's not a good mom.  She shouldn't be yelling at him like that.  She's a bully."

Was I on an episode of What Would You Do?  Where is John Quinones? When we walked past her, she didn't even stop the commotion.  Then I thought, "is she on something?"  I heard her son say, "I freakin' HATE you!"  Yikes.   And this is all taking place in public, at WalMart.  Imagine what life must be like when no other people are around?  Part of me really wanted to stand up to her and say something, but you know how it goes.  It's not my place, she might clock me, I have no business...but my heart ached for the poor kid.

So, like I said before, I don't typically choose to shop at WalMart.  After yesterday's escapades, I remember why.  And we wonder where these kids learn these behaviors?  It's the rotten apple trees.  One bad apple spoils the bunch.  Let's just say I couldn't get out of that parking lot fast enough and we didn't dare stop at Market Basket.


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Friday, March 09, 2012

Bliss Kicks

At first glance, I thought they were ugly.  But then as I got closer, I warmed up to them.  Ok, maybe they aren't "clown shoes."  I'll take an 8 1/2 please.

My Famous Footwear Dr. Scholl's Free Step Kicks
I finally got to wear my "tongueless" sneaks for the first time today.  I'll have you know that I wore them for 15 hours straight today.   Why take them off when they feel like slippers?  And the more I looked down, the cuter they got.  I REALLY like them.  They're surprisingly super comfy.  I probably could have slept in them.  A featherweight pair of kicks without a tongue!  Love 'em!  And after discovering that they come in so many cute colors, I just might have to get another pair!  Have you worn your Bliss Kicks yet?

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Weekend Shopping?

Has the promise of warmer weather gotten you in the mood to SHOP?  Here are some great deals you don't want to miss:

Headed to Old Navy?  Save $10 off $50 just by by signing up for their email notifications!
Old Navy $10 Off $50 With Email Sign Up

Shopping for the little ones?   Carter's is having a HUGE baby sale!
Carter's Baby Sale

Save 15% at Kohl's ~ no Kohl's card needed!
Kohls 15% Off Everything

Happy shopping!

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Helping Your Child Learn to Read and Write Their Own Name

Your child's name is most likely going to be the first word he/she will learn to read and write.   Fascinating, right?  Don't you want to give your child a head start?   They must first learn to recognize the letters in their own name before they can begin to write it.  Here are some tips for when your child is ready:

  • Sing songs about your child's name, such as:  "E M I L Y, that's how we spell Emily!"   "A I D A N, that's how we spell Aidan!" 
  • Write your child's first name on a sentence strip.  Cut out each letter so that your child can put their own name back together again like a puzzle!  Add your last name when your child is ready!  (This is another perfect way to practice phone numbers!)
  • Use a golf pencil or a broken crayon to practice the perfect pencil grip.
  • Use magnetic letters!  
  • Use a wet paint brush or a wet fingertip on a dry chalk board and watch your child's name disappear and reappear!

I hope this list helps!  

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It's A Big World, Little Pig! A Book Review

Did you know that Kristi Yamaguchi, America's favorite world-class figure skating champion, has recently written two children's books?  Who knew, right?

First came Dream Big, Little Pig! in 2011, telling the story of Poppy the Pig and her journey to success to never give up and keep on dreaming.

Kristi's second book about Poppy, It's a Big World, Little Pig!, was just released yesterday! In this story, Poppy receives an invitation to the World Games ice skating championships in Paris, but she is nervous about the big trip!

Illustrated by Tim Bowers, the message is clear.  Yamaguchi does a fine job reminding children around the globe that even though we may all come from different backgrounds and different parts of the world speaking many different languages, we are all the same at heart.  We all smile in the same langauge!  I could totally relate to Poppy, as I look back on my first blogging conference, held a few weeks ago in Nashville, TN.  While at Blissdom, us bloggers had to do remember the same important message that Poppy tells in this delightful children's book ~

  • Smiles go far and friendships can be made, no matter where you are.
  • Take risks.
  • Be kind.
  • Be confident.

My kids enjoyed hearing the story, especially six-year-old Emily.  "When are we signing up for figure skating lessons, Mommy?"  

I hope your children enjoy this heart-felt story as much as mine did.  
___________________________________________________________________________________*Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing me with a copy of It's a Big World, Little Pig!





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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

ABCmouse.com Giveaway: Educational Fun for Little Ones

Congratulations Ani Wilson in TX!  You are the lucky winner! 
We recently got our hands on a free subscription to ABCmouse.com, the online early learning academy.  I  am always scouring the web for great sites to compliment all the learning going on at home and school and this site is amazing.  They've recently added science and social studies activities to the learning path, which is wonderful because often times these important subjects are left out.  

Emily, who is in kindergarten really loves how the site is full of games and fun which allow her to rack up tickets to virtually purchase things for her "room."  (It is very similar to the way WebKinz is set up.)  You can have your child travel on the Step-by-Step Learning Path or you can create your own custom lessons for your children.  The site is perfect for my Aidan, who is 3.5, because it's a great tool for reinforcing his letter-sound correspondence, number sense, and even art and music!  Aidan is learning on the site, while Emily is having fun racking up tickets to fill up her "room."  

Abcmouse.com is definitely worth checking out if you are a homeschooling mom or a mom who is looking for the perfect site to reinforce important skills necessary for success in kindergarten.  What's better than learning that seems like fun and games?  We love the printables too!  Don't forget to check ABCmouse out on facebook

How would you like your own subscription to ABCmouse.com?  One lucky reader is going to get the chance to check it out for themselves!  Here's what you have to do:
  • Leave a comment below telling me who's the lucky little person in your life who would like to learn on ABCmouse.com
For extra entries you can do the following:  (leave an extra comment below for each that you complete)
  • Follow Stowed Stuff on facebook
  • Follow me on twitter
  • Subscribe to my blog
  • Share this giveaway on your facebook wall
  • Tweet about this giveaway on twitter (once daily if you wish!)
Contest period ends on March 17, 2012 at 8pm EST.  Winner will have 48 hours to claim prize before another winner is picked.  Good luck!

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Monday, March 05, 2012

One of My Biggest Fears...

A)  Falling down the stairs

or

B)  Broken banister

or

C)  All of the above.

It was loud, it was rough, it was scary.  I found him with a Little Miss Helpful gel pack on his elbow.  That's probably enough now.  Anyone know a finish carpenter?

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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Is My Child Ready to Read?

Often times, parents find themselves asking themselves this very question:

"How do I know if my child is ready to learn to read?"

Maybe your child is not even in school yet.  Maybe it's the middle of kindergarten.  Maybe he or she is only three years old.  Well, I thought I'd share some tips on figuring out whether or not your child is ready.  Is your child showing the ability to do any of the following:
Mrs. Stow celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday

  • recognize all 26 letters of the alphabet?
  • name letter sounds for each letter?
  • showing an interest in "reading" stories according to the illustrations?
  • recognize people's names and the print of everyday life:  PIZZA, Target, STOP, Cheerios, etc.?  
  • rhyme?
  • handle a book, point out the front cover, point to the first word on a page, etc.? 
Remember, every child is different.  Learning to read is developmental, just like learning to talk or walk.  There is no perfect age or perfect time, but you can look for the pre-set skills that may indicate your child is ready.  

Do you think your child may be ready?  How exciting!  

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Happy Birthday Theodor!

Theodor Geisel would be turning 108 years old today.  Do you know who I'm talking about?  Ya you do!  The creator of so many joyous children's books!

I brought home a copy of The Lorax from Blissdom and my kids can't get enough!  I will admit, I wasn't even familiar with the story until we read it together at bedime this week.  It's a darling little story which teaches kids the importance of being environmentally conscious.  I'm really excited for the movie, which opens up in theaters across the country today!  Are you running out to see it this weekend?
My little Lorax
So many of Seuss's stories teach children valuable life lessons.  What's your favorite Seuss story?  Happy birthday Mr. Geisel!  The Cat in the Hat will ALWAYS be my favorite!

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

National Reading Month: Give A Book!

Did you know that there is only 1 book for every 300 kids in poverty?  Have you ever heard of RIF?  It stands for Reading is Fundamental, and that it is.  As a reading specialist, I witness the varying skills and abilities of children entering Kindergarten each year in our very own little suburb just south of Boston.  Think about it.  Do all homes have the opportunity to provide shelves and shelves of picture books?  Does socio-economic status matter when it comes to achievement?  What if mom and dad don't speak English?  What if that child has never been read to?  This stuff sure does matter.  And it is my job to narrow that gap.  It's a BIG job.


In honor of National Reading Month, Dollops of Diane and I have decided to team up and do some social good here on the world wide web.  Since reading education is very near and dear to my heart, I am calling YOU to action. Whether you are a mom, a dad, a grandparent, a teacher, a Dr, or a CEO, we can all make a difference in a child's life by providing ALL kids with more experiences with books.  By raising money for RIF, we can narrow the gaps and give kids the foundation they need to succeed in school.


It's simple.  All you have to do is click DONATE and enter the dollar amount you'd like to give to kids who really need it.  I'm also calling all of you to SHARE the widget with your friends and family to do the same.  Want the widget for yourself?  I invite you to take it and join our cause!  Share it on twitter, facebook, email and pinterest.  We can make a difference one book at a time.  The more people we inspire to help, the more kids we reach.  Let's do this.




And here's what RIF will do with the money we raise:

"Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the United States. We prepare and motivate children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most. We inspire children to be lifelong readers through the power of choice. RIF provides new, free books for children to choose from and make their own. The seeds of inspiration in these books have motivated children to follow their dreams and achieve their potential. Yes, it seems incredible for a book to launch a life, but it happens every day as hungry, inquisitive young minds reach out and grab hold of the new people, places, and ideas that books bring them.
Nearly two-thirds of low-income families in the U.S. own no books.
Planting seeds of inspiration in our nation’s most vulnerable children is what RIF and a network of more than 400,000 volunteers do. Whether in schools, homeless shelters, or community centers—wherever you find children—RIF volunteers spend countless hours distributing books, staging reading motivation activities, and promoting the importance of literacy in their communities.
RIF is generously supported by corporations, foundations, community organizations, and thousands of individuals. Your generosity is what allows us to fulfill our mission and positively impact the lives of our nation’s children and their families."
Diane and I have set a personal goal for this campaign and we want to raise $1,000 in the month of March.  Can we count on you to help us reach that goal?  No amount is too small.  Imagine what could be done with just $1 from all of us.  Let's make the world a better place with more books.  Thanks for your support!  Donate today!  And don't forget to press that SHARE button!

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