Four Little Monsters Blog
The adventures of a Mom and her monsters.
Four Little Monsters is your source for family friendly event, product  and travel reviews in Mid-Atlantic USA. We find fun wherever we go, even right here at home.
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Nizar Ibrahim and National Geographic Live! Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous Presentation, Review

by EJ on 04/08/16

We traveled to Maryland yesterday to meet our oldest kiddo's hero, paleontologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim. Ibrahim, last night's speaker for National Geographic Live! at Harford Community College, described his adventures in Germany, Italy and Morroco, to re-discover the dinosaur fossils of Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur yet discovered, the only known fossils of which previous to his work, were lost to history in the bombings of Munich, Germany during World War II. If you're a regular reader here at Four Little Monsters, you may remember we ventured to DC last year to see the culmination of Ibrahim's scientific detective work, determination and love for #SpinoDino, an exhibit that features a full skeletal model of the dinosaur, Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous. At this exhibit, our daughter declared that she would join Ibrahim in Morocco for a fossil expedition one day.

Nizar Ibrahim Describes His Adventures To Re-Discover Spinosaurus in National Geographic Live! Presentation

The National Geographic Live! presentation was truly an amazing experience for her, bringing her face to face with the scientist she so admires, reminding her all over again why she loves Spinosaurus. Her favorite part was when Ibrahim described Spinosaurus as a "truly bizarre" dinosaur and she recalled afterward how she's always thought the same thing, hence her interest in it. Spinosaurus was actually one of several huge predators inhabiting the same area during the Cretaceous period. Ibrahim explained how multiple predators may have been able to co-exist and thrive in the same ecosystem due to each creature's highly specialized traits and diets. Spinosaurus likely fed on aquatic creatures exclusively, which can be determined by the location of it's nostrils much farther up his snout than on other land predators, allowing him to breathe while the rest of his snout was underwater, and it's conical teeth. Other clues to this creature's semi-aquatic lifestyle are it's short hind limbs, similar to early whales, it's wide, flat claws and feet and it's dense and compact bones, similar to cross-sections of penguin bones.

Ibrahim is a fantastic speaker, his skill at story-telling really draws in the listener, and one can feel his profound love of discovery and adventure when he speaks, which is a great skill to have when it comes to inspiring kids. When he describes the Cretaceous North African landscape, you can almost see, feel and hear the environment of Spinosaurus all around you. He describes it as what would have been, "The most dangerous place on Earth." The short clips of Spinosaurus in action helped, too, but his skill at speaking to an audience is what truly powered the experience. 

Nurturing a Love of Dinosaurs

It's true that tons of kids love dinosaurs. Our kid lives and breathes dinosaurs, so we make sure to nurture that with all kinds of experiences. Our eleven-year old has been dreaming of a North African fossil dig since she was 4, when she caught a glimpse of the world's first documented semi-aquatic dinosaur Spinosaurus on the screen of our television in Jurassic Park III. Now, she can point out all the reasons why the Spielberg version of Spinosaurus is all wrong, but she's been set on dinosaurs, Spinosaurus and prehistoric creatures of all sorts, ever since. At age six, she wrote her own book called "Prehistoric Mammals" and presented it to a stunned Kindergarten teacher. These days, we're often traveling to fossil shows, buying up all the literature, models and fossils she can get her hands on and then she spends hours and hours a week working on her own Paleo-art. She met with another hero of hers several weeks ago, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University's resident Paleo-artist Jason Poole. Her first real-life dinosaur fossil dig is coming up this June in New Jersey. We're going to put together a paleontology portfolio for her soon, to keep all her adventures and work in one place. Our visit with Ibrahim will be a major moment in her portfolio.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters is not affiliated with National Geographic Live! and was not compensated for this post. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Here's our recap of last night's presentation and visit with Paleontologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Friday, April 8, 2016

USA Science and Engineering Festival in DC, April 16th and 17th Free Science Expo

by EJ on 04/06/16

Who else is counting down the days until this year's USA Science and Engineering Festival? I seriously cannot wait. I'm always looking for ways to keep my kids excited about STEM. What better way to accomplish that then to take them to a huge party for science!? This amazing event features a FREE Expo that runs April 16th and 17th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. More than 350,000 attendees will celebrate science this year while mingling with some of the greatest scientific minds and science celebrities in STEM.


Science Takes Center Stage at this Year's USA Science and Engineering Festival

At this year's 4th Annual USA Science and Engineering Festival, families can interact with over 3000 hands-on activities in fields from nanotechnology to space exploration. Most activities take about fifteen minutes. Browse the list of exhibitors HERE. Stage presentations and performers will include science experiments and science celebrities. Performances will include a laser lights spectacular, combustion experiments, Nobel Prize winning Physicist Dr. William Phillips, Schmitty The Weather Dog, popular Shark Trackers OCEARCH, Bionics, Medicine and Mathematics and my very personal favorite, They Might Be Giants. See the full list of performers and stage shows HERE. Stage shows are also free and open to the public but seating is limited so check the schedule and arrive early.

The expo will be grouped into pavilions with the following themes: Natural Sciences, Earth Sciences, Astronomy and Space Exploration, Engineering, Health and Medicine, Energy, Social Sciences, Math and Computer Sciences, High Technology and the Kids Pavilion for children 7 and under). If you've got a kiddo who just loves all things planets and space as I do, then be sure to head to that particular pavilion first, as it will easily take more than two days to see the whole Expo.
• Natural Sciences
• Earth Sciences
• Astronomy/Space Exploration
• Engineering
• Health and Medicine
• Energy
• Social Sciences
• Math/Computer Sciences
• High Technology
• Kids Pavilion (for children under 7 years of age)
- See more at: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/attendees/attendee-faq.html#sthash.UalLkLXi.dpuf
• Natural Sciences
• Earth Sciences
• Astronomy/Space Exploration
• Engineering
• Health and Medicine
• Energy
• Social Sciences
• Math/Computer Sciences
• High Technology
• Kids Pavilion (for children under 7 years of age)
- See more at: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/attendees/attendee-faq.html#sthash.UalLkLXi.dpuf
• Natural Sciences
• Earth Sciences
• Astronomy/Space Exploration
• Engineering
• Health and Medicine
• Energy
• Social Sciences
• Math/Computer Sciences
• High Technology
• Kids Pavilion (for children under 7 years of age)
- See more at: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/attendees/attendee-faq.html#sthash.UalLkLXi.dpuf

If you pre-register for the USA Science and Engineering Festival, they'll put you in the running for a super cool prize.

Don't forget to stock up on your USA Science and Engineering gear HERE

Keep in mind, there is no event parking at the convention center. You'll need to make use of nearby public parking lots. To locate parking and plan your visit, visit the Frequent Questions page. Maps of the Expo will be available when you arrive. Strollers are permitted. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and Four Little Monsters is not directly affiliated with the USA Science and Engineering Festival. We just love science and learning. A lot.

My five monsters listen to They Might Be Giants #ScienceIsReal EVERY DAY. We're so excited for the USA Science &...

Posted by Four Little Monsters on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nature Crafts: Fairy Garden How-To, The Fairy Paintbox Fairy Garden Decor

by EJ on 04/04/16


It's time to get outdoors and do stuff, folks. What better way to get kids excited about the outdoors than to do a little gardening? By little, I mean little. With a little help from The Fairy Paintbox, we worked on our very own miniature garden this week, complete with furniture and decor for the fairies, of course! Fairy gardens can go just about anywhere in the garden, but we like to put ours in a planter for the porch so we can move it around if needed. Here's what you'll need to make your very own Fairy Garden:

  • Small to medium planter
  • An assortment of small to tall plants, to give your garden some depth. 
  • Sea glass or gravel, for a mini walkway
  • A miniature chair, bench or stool
  • A miniature door and/or mini arbor
  • A Fairy Welcome sign or other fairy-friendly garden stake
For our fairy garden, the kids chose some colorful flowers, both small and tall, as well as some low-lying greenery. Boy, was it wonderful to be back in our local nursery again. The flowers were simply amazing. The varying heights of the plants we chose gave our fairy garden depth and provided some good hiding spots for fairies, too. We stuck the taller plant near the back and our smallest plants nearer to the front. The kids had a blast designing their incredible fairy hide-away and are excited to take care of it over the season.

The Fairy Paintbox has a really great selection of handmade fairy garden decor, including exquisite miniature Hand Painted Fairy Doors, Toadstool Fairy Seats, Miniature pots and super cute Fairy (and Gnome!) Welcome Signs. They're happy to accept custom orders as well.

Be sure to visit The Fairy Paintbox at www.TheFairyPaintbox.com for great kids' room decor and wood wall alphabet lettering products for home and office. To browse their fairy garden supplies, visit their Etsy shop.

The Fairy Paintbox on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFairyPaintbox

Paleopalooza 2016 at The Academy of Natural Sciences, Review

by EJ on 03/24/16

There's all kinds of good stuff happening at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philly these days. We urge all our Monster families to attend Animal Super Hero Weekend on April 2- 3rd, a celebration of all the amazing abilities of real-life animals that inspire many of our favorite super hero characters! First, we've got all sorts of memories to share from this year's Paleopalooza festivities, The Academy's dinosaur-lovers dream event! We attend this one every year, as our preteen has been a bit obsessed with dinosaurs since birth and therefore we attend every dinosaur-related event our schedule will fit.

Paleopalooza did not disappoint and topped our previous visits. We were already in fossil heaven when we arrived, having spent the earlier morning buying up prehistoric goodies at the Newark Gem and Fossil Show and salivating over the bones we couldn't afford (I snagged two almost-complete Megalodon teeth, so I, myself, was in quite a good mood). After a quick snack in the cafe, we met the Academy's resident Paleo-artist Jason Poole, one of our daughter's heroes! We grabbed a copy of his new and amazingly detailed dinosaur coloring book A Dynasty of Dinosaurs, stuffed with facts about dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures. Poole was working on a new creation as we perused some of his work.

Now, our daughter can be a little shy, but I could tell she was in her element when she demanded to speak with the tour guide in Dinosaur Hall, so that she could clarify some details regarding something he'd said during a tour. Apparently he'd asked the group what dinosaur would win in a battle of Spinosaurus versus T-Rex. "A Spinosaurus and  T-Rex would never battle each other!" she said passionately, "They lived in different times AND T-Red lived in the place that is now the United States and Spino lived in North Africa!" We had to reign her in. (She's very fact oriented, as in, she gets really upset when the little ones watch Dinosaur Train because it's not scientifically correct). She later decided that if the two dinos that lived in different times did, in some crazy universe, get together for a battle, the T-Rex would definitely win because of it's teeth. 

Fossil tables were set up throughout the museum, with knowledgeable staff, Drexel students and regional fossil club members ready to show off all the jaws, claws and teeth. Ann Arbor artist David Zinn worked on a huge, life-sized color chalk drawing of Hadrosaurus Folkii as we watched from beneath his ladder. We attended an auditorium presentation, Rad Reptile Relatives, all about how modern-day birds are evolved from dinosaurs. I'm a birder, so I loved getting up-close with a living Red-Tailed Hawk in this presentation. It's really exciting to think about the fact that birds are living dinosaurs. The whole day was magnificent. Every staff member and Drexel student was just as thrilled about dinosaurs and fossils as we were. The enthusiasm for a love of learning really shows at the Academy and that's extremely important for kids to witness and be a part of. Our daughter is already counting down to next year!

We received a great surprise when we were pulled aside to a secret room where we learned all about a prehistoric exhibit that's still in the planning stages. I won't spill the beans just yet, but this exhibit is going to knock all the socks off! All of them.

The Academy of Natural Sciences Fun Facts AKA Why this Museum Totally Rocks List:
  • It was the first natural history museum established in the country! Founded in 1812.
  • The Academy's collection includes over 18 million specimens.
  • New, super massive dinosaur Dreadnoughtus was discovered by Drexel University paleontologist Ken Lacovara, one of two dinosaurs named by the Academy!
  • The Academy's Kids Club is a free program for kids 12 and under. 
  • The Academy holds themed weekend events and kid-friendly activities throughout the year to encourage a love of the natural world, such as Paleopalooza and Bug Fest!

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received admission to Paleopalooza in exchange for this review. We really are obsessed with dinosaurs and all opinions belong to the author.


 

Nature Crafts: Design and Grow a Terrarium!

by EJ on 03/13/16

Our family's Cub Scout and Girl Scout requirements converged this weekend with a trip to the Delaware Natural History Museum's All Scout Event. The museum's "Future Gardeners" table, where scouts and museum staff discussed types of trees, plants and growing zones, got me thinking about some activities we could do at home to further support what we'd learned. We decided to plant a carnivorous plant terrarium and share our adventure and discoveries here on the blog.

What is a terrarium?

A terrarium is a container designed to house small plants and/or animals in a controlled environment. Basically, it's an enclosed replica of a real environment in nature so soil, rocks and other natural elements should be present. Terrariums mimic habitats from deserts to rain forest environments. They're used by scientists and hobbyists to study and display all kinds of plants and animals. 

The enclosed nature of a terrarium allows for the air inside to be warm and more humid. If a terrarium has an open top, the air will be cooler. Screens can be used to house animals in a terrarium so that they may breathe without risk of escape. 

Designing and building a terrarium is a fantastic way to teach kids about different natural environments in the world, including the amazing plants and animals that inhabit them.

What do you need to build a terrarium?

You can buy a kit, like the Fly Trap Friends Terrarium by DuneCraft that we used, or gather your own materials. You'll need:
  • A large glass fish bowl, glass jar or a glass/clear plastic container with lid.
  • Peat moss
  • Several types of plant seeds. 
  • Gravel or small rocks.
  • Moss, if desired.
  • Small plastic insect or animal (if growing meat-eating plants, a small plastic lizard can act as a lure for insects). 
  • Scissors
  • Sheet of paper
1. First, decide what kind of environment you want to build. What will that environment require? How big do you want it to be?

A bog environment is perfect for the meat-eating insect plants that we wanted to grow. This kind of environment requires gravel rocks for the creation of streams and requires specific moisture levels and humidity. We researched wetlands, bogs and marshes to get some background on this environment.

2. Research your soil type and if required, add the correct amount of water for your peat moss. Talk about the way the soil feels. Make sure your soil medium moisture is correct for the environment you want to mimic. The kids can learn all sorts of things about soil properties with a little research online.

Carnivorous plants prefer high rainfall environments so we knew our soil needed to be very moist. Our peat moss called for 2 cups of distilled water. Allow the kids to get their hands dirty by spreading out the moistened soil. We learned that the perfect bog soil moisture is achieved when you press your thumb against the surface and the soil bounces right back. If the depression fills with water, there's too much moisture. 

3. If you're starting with seeds, read the specific instructions on your seed packets for planting. Use a folded piece of paper to transport your seeds to the container. Depending on the plant, some seeds may need to pushed a certain depth into the soil while others need to be placed on top of the soil.

4. Design your terrarium. Choose rocks, gravel or other natural accents. Think about what natural objects or creatures you would find in this environment in nature.

Our terrarium kit came with blue gravel stones and a plastic lizard. The kids took turns scattering the blue gravel around the soil, leaving space for water to build up into little streams. If you're doing a Carnivorous Plant Terrarium, add a Bog Buddy! The addition of a plastic lizard or other little creature can act as a lure to insects.

4. Discuss how to maintain the correct temperature, lighting and/or humidity for your terrarium. For instance, will you need artificial light during winter months? 

In our bog terrarium, the lid must be placed over the environment and the container then placed in a warm-bright area so that condensation can build up inside while we wait for the seeds to germinate. We'll know that our bog is at the correct humidity if condensation builds up on the inside of the dome. We can add to the humidity by spritzing the inside of the dome. 

Venus Fly Traps will grow well in bright, indirect sunlight but will wilt in direct sunlight. We chose a window that doesn't receive a ton of direct sunlight.

5. Discuss how to take care of the terrarium over time. 

Venus Fly Trap plants can grow for years which means they'll need lots of care. In fact, growing Venus Fly Traps from seeds takes a very long time. They are very slow growing and take an average of three years to mature. We're going to try fertilizing them with a mixture of plant food/fertilizer every two weeks to hopefully speed up the process. 

As our carnivorous plants get older, they won't need to be covered and will eventually be able to live outside for periods of time so they can catch live prey.
Don't forget to explore your terrarium's environment in the real world! Find a local wetland and go on an adventure that will really get your kiddos excited about their terrarium. Talk about conservation. Never remove a carnivorous plant from the wild! Due to their increased popularity over the years, they've decreased drastically in number in their natural environments.

Great Resources for Carnivorous Plant Terrariums:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5144973_do-venus-flytraps-grow-naturally.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/Carnivorous-Plant-Terrarium/

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/987497/make-an-indoor-terrarium-craft-for-kids

 

Best Springtime Festivals in Delaware: Kite Festival, Chocolate Festival and Buccaneer Bash!

by EJ on 03/08/16

Whether you're visiting the First State this spring or if you're lucky enough to call Delaware your home, the springtime season offers a great selection of family-friendly festivals alongside the water. Here are three of our absolute favorite events coming up this spring season.

Good Friday, March 25th, 2016
10 - 3 PM
Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware
* Includes a kite flying contest, egg hunt and egg toss. Bring your own kite or purchase on-site. Food vendors and face painting.
Park entrance fee applies.

Saturday, April 2nd 2016
11 to 4 PM
Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
* Brownie, Cookie, Cake, Pie, Candy, Ice Cream Contests and more
* Vendors, Kids' Games, Hot Dog Truck and Sweets
$5 - $15 for regular admission tickets. V.I.P. admission tickets available. Tickets are limited.

Friday, May 27th through Sunday May 29th 2016
Saturday Hours 10 am to 6 pm
Sunday Hours 10 am to 5 pm
Bowers Beach Maritime Museum in Bowers Beach, Delaware
Come dressed in your best pirate garb! A friday night pub crawl followed by two days of non-stop pirate fun for the whole family.

Shutterfly's Make My Book Service, Shutterfly Photo Book, Updated Review

by EJ on 03/01/16

With five kids, I take so many pictures every single day. We all do it. How can we possibly display all the great photos we upload to Facebook and other social media sites, all the photos we upload to our computers off our digital devices and fancy cameras? Last December I told readers all about a great service by Shutterfly called Make My Book. This service allows you to submit your photos toward the compilation of a photo book. You can check out my original post HERE and read all about how the process works. Basically, I handed over a stockpile of over five-hundred shots previously stuck in digital purgatory to Shutterfly and their designer did all the arrangements, page designs and cover work. I did some minor tweaking when the design process was complete but for the most part, the designer got a lot right and I saved a ton of time. The Shutterfly Make My Book service is free to get started with a $9.99 service fee when you eventually order. 
When I received my book, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the cover, the pages and the photographs themselves. The entire presentation was exquisite. The colors in the themed pages were vibrant and crisp. The cover was nice and solid. My photographs looked very clear and were arranged the way I wanted. I couldn't find a single mistake or print issue on any page. The only issue I had with the book was the plastic folder (an optional add-on) in the back had come loose but I was able to reattach that easily myself. Overall, the Shutterfly Photo Book is a high-quality product that is definitely going to bring our family so much joy for years to come.

Our family is so proud of our Shutterfly photo book that we display it on our banquet table so that guests never miss it. 

I'd also ordered several soft-cover versions for family members for the holidays and they were extremely well made, too. I received so many compliments on those gifts.

Start building your own photo book using Shutterfly's Make My Book service.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received Shutterfly products in exchange for this honest review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

STEM Kids Day Trips in Greater Philedelphia This Weekend, March 5th and 6th, 2016

by EJ on 02/29/16

It's going to be an amazing weekend of educational STEM-friendly events in the greater Philadelphia area. I've rounded up these top three day trips for the family that are great for getting those science and engineering kiddos' minds-a-moving. Pick one, two or attend all three!

Lego Shipbuilding Contest in Wilmington, Delaware

This Saturday, March 5th, The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation welcomes to public to attend their 1st Annual free Lego Shipbuilding Contest and Event. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation kids can bring their own Lego ship models or create on-site. Families can learn how to make Lego Tall Ships and Navy ships and win cool prizes. All ages are welcome so bring the entire family!

This is a FREE event from 10 am to 3 pm.

Gem Mineral and Fossil Show in Newark, Delaware

Delaware Technical and Community College hosts their 53rd Annual Gem Mineral and Fossil Show on Saturday and Sunday, March 5th and 6th in Newark, Delaware. The Delaware Mineralogical Society is a non-profit Earth-Science Educational Organization covering the fields of mineralogy, paleontology and the lapidary arts. The show features outstanding mineral, gem and fossil dealers with specimens on display, demonstrations, exhibits and door prizes. 

Adult admission is $6. Seniors are $5. Juniors from ages 12 to 14 are $4 and children 11 and under and ALL scouts in uniform are FREE. Get your admission discount coupons HERE. Event runs from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday.


Paleopalooza at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA

This is my oldest daughter's favorite event of the entire year, two days devoted entirely to fossils. She counts down the days until we can attend Paleopalooza again. If your kid loves dinosaurs, then March 5-6 is the weekend to check out the Acadamy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. They put on a great event that features educational and fun auditorium shows, fossil dealers and displays, crafts, guided tours of Dinosaur Hall, fossil lab tours, dinosaur puppet workshops, live animal displays, artist and illustrator David Zinn, meet-and-greets with fossil clubs, reptile demonstrations, live birds, story times, fossil hunts and so much more. There's something for every age of dinosaur enthusiast.

Adults are $18.95. Children are $14.95. Students are $14.95. Seniors are $14.95. Military is $14.95. Buy tickets HERE

 

My Life My Shop Balance2 Digital Body Scale, Vanity Planet, Promo Code & Review

by EJ on 01/28/16

So it's January... and this time of year, many of us are inspired to head off to the gym and get back in shape. While I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, I do applaud anyone who chooses to begin the journey to good health no matter what time of year. After all, our health is the most important thing we've got! For the past two years, our home has gone without a scale. Ever since one of the monsters chucked the last one down the stairs, it's been regretfully easy to avoid checking my weight and not hold myself accountable. That changed for the better when Vanity Planet sent over their My Life My Shop Balance2 Digital Body Scale. With a body scale in the house again, I'm monitoring my weight each day. It's much more rewarding when trying to lose weight and stay on a healthy track, to see the results each day on a body scale. You can also catch yourself gaining weight before too much damage has been done. I feel like a responsible adult again! I've found the Balance2 Digital Body Scale to be pretty dependable. It looks great in our master bath.

The My Life My Shop Balance2 Digital Body Scale has a natural bamboo stepping platform. It's got a very cool, spa-like look. The scale is lightweight but strong and measures up to 396 pounds. The weight calculator consists of an impressive round, backlit display that shows both digital and analog weight and switches between pounds and kilograms with the flip of a switch. The scale also features a 24 hour weight-in reminder setting.

When using the weigh-in reminder, you should pick a convenient time to weigh yourself so that you can check in with the scale at the same time each day. For me, the most convenient time is early in the morning after I wake up. If I'm just getting out of bed, I'll hear the alarm and be reminding to weight-in first thing. The alarm beeps at the same time every twenty-four hours and if no weigh-in occurs, it shuts off after twenty-five seconds.

Exclusive Promo Code for 60% OFF of the Balance2 Digital Body Scale. 

Vanity Planet teamed up with Four Little Monsters to offer an exclusive promo code to our readers! Use code FLMSCALE at vpwow.com/flmscale to get 60% off $95. Final cost - $38

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog receives compensation and Vanity Planet products in exchange for promotion and review. All opinions belong to the author.


Shutterfly's Make My Book Service, Family Scrapbook Designer, Review

by EJ on 12/14/15

In days of old I had the time to make my own scrapbooks by hand. Then five kids happened. I'm years behind in my scrap booking ventures at this point. I have an entire cabinet full of books, stickers, embellishments, pages and more. I was beginning to lose hope that I'd ever get all our memories caught up in scrapbook form. Then Shutterfly asked me to try out their Make My Book Service. At first, I had no idea that all my scrap booking woes were about to become obsolete. As I explored the Make My Book Service prompts online, I discovered a whole new world of scrap booking that comes with your own personal designer who does most of the work for you!

Using the Make My Book service, I created a hardcover scrapbook spanning the last ten years of our family's growth. I decided to theme the book around the kids growing up together. I was able to choose from the following sizes: 8 x 8, 8 x 11, 10 x 10, 12 x 12 and 11 x 14. I was given the choice of several book styles. I went with the most colorful one, which became the backdrop for all our crazy, wonderful adventures. 

The most fantastic part was that I didn't spend two or three weeks making the book - I had help! Using Shutterfly's Make My Book service, I was able to submit up to 800 photos. I probably cried a dozen times going through all the photographs that were just sitting on my computer, homeless. As I uploaded the photographs, it dawned on me that I was creating an absolute treasure. When I'd submitted all the photos I could, the album of photos went over to a designer. The Shutterfly designer arranged the photographs based on my suggestions, including the addition of embellishments and special words. They designed a great cover and even ordered the photos the way I requested. It took about three days for the designer to finish the project and I received an email when it was ready to preview. I was able to go in after the design process and move things around if needed, add my own text, change layouts and edit pretty much anything I wanted. For the most part, the designer did a great job getting it right the first time. I cried another dozen times going through the preview version of the book. I could not wait to hold my family book in my hands.

The Shutterfly Make My Book service is free until you place your order and then you pay a one-time $9.99 for the service on top of the book price. Each size is priced differently and you can choose to add on extra pages, glossy pages, a pocket for keepsakes and more. The prices are not bad at all, especially when compared to all the money I would normally spend making one scrapbook by hand. The process of submitting the photos is extremely straightforward and the program is easy to use. You just log in to your account, enter the Make My Book service page and start uploading. I'm 100% sure that I will turn to Shutterfly for every scrapbook project going forward. It's just so easy and the end result is so precious. Each Shutterfly photo book is printed and bound with quality and care in the USA. Shutterfly won the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the best website for photo books.

Shutterfly has some amazing deals going on right now. Stop by their website to see what photo treasures you can create!
 
Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received Shutterfly products in exchange for this review. All opinions belong to the blogger.


 

Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush System by Vanity Planet, Review and Promo Coupon Code

by EJ on 12/10/15


I'm over the moon about my new Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush System by Vanity Planet. Now that I'm in my thirties, I'm paying more attention to my skin and how I take care of it, especially this time of year when the air is colder and drier. Since I love to be outdoors, the weather can really take a tole on my face. Add in five kids, makeup and all the to-and-fro of the season, and I've got myself a face in need of pampering. That's where the Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush System comes in. 

How Does the Ultimate Skin Spa by Vanity Planet work?

The facial cleansing brush system includes: A handheld connecting port, a daily cleansing brush, a silicone brush, an exfoliating brush and a storage case. When your brush of choice is connected to the port, the press of a button activates the rotary action which gently spins the brush. You press the spinning brush gently and flush against your face to cleanse, exfoliate and remove dirt and oil trapped in your pores. 

There are two speed modes to choose from so if you don't feel like the first speed is deep enough, you can set it to go faster. I always apply warm water with my favorite facial cleanser first, then use the brush over the cleanser to scrub my skin. When you're done, everything fits perfectly in the compact, sturdy storage case and I can slip it right in the cabinet when not in use. I've raved so much about the Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing System at home that even my husband is wanting to use it now.

That is all great stuff, of course, but I am also in love with the softness of the bristles and the gentle massage the brush gives my face. It just feels amazing, especially around the ridge of my nose where my skin gets the driest. The bristles of the daily cleansing brush and the exfoliating brush are so extremely soft and lovely. It's such a relaxing, enjoyable cleansing experience. It's really a great way to start or end the day. Plus, it's safe to take in the shower which makes things so much easier when you're on the go.

The silicone brush is great for a deep, gentle clean and suitable for dry and sensitive skin. The non-abrasive silicone touch-points gently remove dead skin and unclog pores. The exfoliating brush is specially designed to lift away debris and is best used with a cleanser. The daily cleansing brush is made of the super-soft bristles I told you about and designed for your most delicate skin. The whole system is very well made and solid.

Get 70% off the Ultimate Skin Spa using this Vanity Planet Promo Coupon Code

Good news! I have an exclusive coupon code for my readers to save 70% OFF your purchase of the Ultimate Skin Spa Facial Cleansing Brush System. Use code FLMSPA at vpwow.com/flmspa to get 70% off $125. Final cost - $38. That is a huge savings! Please use THIS LINK to access the product and to use this discount code.  

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received products from Vanity Planet in exchange for this review. All opinions belong to the author of this post.

 

Rockboard RBX Scooter, Rocking Motion Scooter, Review

by EJ on 11/27/15

With the weather being so unseasonably warm this week, I sent the monsters outside to try out our new RockBoard RBX Scooter for the first time. Wow, what fun they had! In fact, the RockBoard RBX Scooter was such a hit that all members of the family took turns whizzing around the neighborhood on this thing. The adults ended up having as much fun as the kids! Watch Uncle George try the Rockboard RBX in this video! We even sent Daddy down the street to show off his Rockboard skills to all the neighbors.

Our Rockboard RBX Scooter is fire engine red, with a sleek, stable design that supports kids and adults. The height is suitable for ages 8 and up. We unveiled the scooter on our son's 8th birthday and putting it together was easier than it looked. The instructions were straightforward and in about twenty minutes, the Rockboard RBX Scooter was ready to go.

Our 8 year old had a little trouble getting used to the back-and-forth motion that is required by this scooter and he's still practicing to get the hang of it. I think he's just the right size to get started on the scooter and he's determined to master it without so many falls. I wasn't as instantly talented either but our 10 year old picked it up right away and was sailing down the road in seconds. She was a total pro! Check out this video of her first Rockboard adventure.

Family members were totally impressed with the concept of the Rockboard RBX Scooter. Unlike typical scooters, the Rockboard RBX Scooter propels forward with each rocking motion. One foot is placed on the front end of the deck and the other foot placed in the back to achieve propulsion. The rider never has to place a foot on the ground since the motion is what pushes the scooter ahead, up to 10 mph. It's still a pretty good work-out for the lower legs, too. The handlebar height is adjustable for all ages. The Rockboard RBX Scooter is our new favorite kids' product to get our kids outside and active! We definitely recommend getting the Rockboard RBX Scooter under the Christmas tree.

Buy the Rockboard RBX and other RBX products HERE.


Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received a Rockboard RBX Scooter in exchange for this honest review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

WubbleX Anti-Gravity Wubble Ball, Helium Wubble Ball, Review

by EJ on 11/27/15

This week, the monsters got to try out the WubbleX anti-gravity Wubble ball along with some other Wubble products. The WubbleX was the smallest of the Wubble balls, but unlike the other one, this one is inflated with helium so it actually floats like a bubble.

The contents of the WubbleX package include: 1 WubbleX ball, 2 sticker sheets, 1 fill tube, 1 sealing tab, 1 petroleum jelly pouch and instructions. Before inflation, the WubbleX ball is super small so an adult needs to do the work. Using the WubbleX helium canister, this was easy to inflate (helium can is sold separately and fills one ball). Once inflated, the WubbleX floated up to the ceiling and after about fifteen minutes, it floated a little lower where the kids could reach. 

The WubbleX fits easily in a child's hands, a little bigger than a regular ball, but can spin through the air and hover and float around the room. We tried all kinds of neat tricks with the WubbleX and had a lot of fun. We did discover that the WubbleX likes to drift off, so keep an eye on it, especially around doors that open to the outside. The buoyancy doesn't last forever, decreasing at about thirty minutes, but it still remains pretty bouncy after that. It's the perfect addition to a birthday party if you need to keep the kids entertained for a bit. I can imagine that filling a room with several of the WubbleX balls for a party would be tons of fun!

Sadly, both the WubbleX bubble balls that we received did not live for long, thanks to my lovely monsters. Our toddler cut one in half before we even inflated it and the other one, while it did get played with a lot, eventually founds its way over a candle flame at Thanksgiving and that was the end of it.

Watch the fun we had with our Wubble balls in this video.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received a WubbleX in exchange for this honest review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

GloWubble Bubble Ball, Wubble Fun For All, Review

by EJ on 11/27/15

This Thanksgiving, we unleashed the GloWubble bubble ball during the day's festivities. I had no idea it would be such a huge hit! All five kids (and several adults) were in giggle fits while enjoying this big, fun toy. 

The GloWubble bubble ball is fairly easy to set up. Contents include: 1 Blue GloWubble ball, 1 Wubble pump (requires 4 D Batteries, not included), 1 nozzle, 1 petroleum jelly pouch and instructions. It took me a bit to get the nozzle aligned inside the ball correctly but once I figured that out, the ball filled up to 3 feet in diameter in only a few minutes. Maybe that doesn't seem very big but when it's fully inflated, it's pretty huge!

The GloWubble bubble ball appears and moves like an actual bubble but it holds up to the hitting, bouncing, kicking, whacking and smacking that the children put it through. The ball itself is soft and pleasing to the touch so the kids love to roll all over it and lay on it. As durable as it may be, we discovered that it's not indestructible. We did end up with a hole after about two hours and we were able to patch up that hole with the provided sticky tape. I did find in the instructions that if the ball does pop, an adult can cut the logo from the ball, put it in the addressed envelope provided with a check for $6.99 processing and handling and the company will send you a new GloWubble ball. You can also pay the shipping and handling online at www.WubbleBall.com to get a new ball. I think that's pretty cool.

All day long, the GloWubble made it's rounds with all the kids and guests. When the kids realized that it was a glow-in-the-dark Wubble Ball, they all ran off to the bathroom to see if it really did glow blue. The glow effect works best when the ball is exposed to light and the longer it's exposed to light, the better the glow. 

If you've got a birthday party or event coming up, the GloWubble bubble ball is an excellent toy to keep the kids entertained. While these bubble balls are tons of fun, they don't last forever. Our GloWubble lasted a little over a day which is why I'd recommend it for a party or event, not for everyday use. We're now out of sticky tape to fix the holes in ours and it's popped for good but it was definitely fun while it lasted.

See the GloWubble in action at our house, here's the VIDEO.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received a GloWubble in exchange for this honest review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

 

PiperWai Natural Deodorant, Activated Charcoal Deodorant, Review

by EJ on 11/16/15

These days, it seems like a ton of products we ingest or put on our skin are totally awful for us. When it comes to deodorant and antiperspirants, I've been dealing with major allergic reactions to aluminum-based compounds in these products since my early twenties. On top of that, I don't feel particularly safe applying aluminum-based deodorants to my skin when they're possibly linked to breast cancer. I know that studies on the link between aluminum and breast cancer have had conflicting results but with breast cancer on my mother's side of the family, I'm not willing to take the risk. However, it seems like I've tried every brand of natural, non-aluminum deodorants out there with no real lasting luck over the years They just don't work for me. Then a fellow blogger introduced me to PiperWai.

When I first received PiperWai, I did some research. I'm not one to believe anything blindly so of course, I wanted to know what I was putting on my body this time. I found that activated charcoal is the latest thing when it comes to skin products. Activated charcoal, made when oxygen is added to regular charcoal, has been used in the medical community to treat poisonings, certain overdoses, GI tract infections and even nausea. Regular charcoal (think barbecue) is used in everything from aquarium water filters to vacuum cleaners. But is it safe for my skin? I couldn't find any solid scientific information to answer that question. 

I did find that there's a ton of good press on the PiperWai product. When I started using it, I was surprised to find that I didn't have to reapply it throughout the day as I have done in the past with other natural deodorants. I did put it on again in the evening if needed every once in a while but definitely not every day. I found that the the 2 oz. jar has gone a really long way. The smell is nice, with what I'll describe as a citrus-like scent. I'm definitely going to see this bottle through to the bottom as so far, so good and I'll be glad to have a deodorant product that doesn't cause painful skin reactions.

PiperWai contains activated charcoal and is a dark gray color that goes on clear without messing up your clothes. There's no applicator and it's actually good for your skin, so your hands will thank you, too. Created by two best friends in Philadelphia, PiperWai contains the following: Tapioca Starch, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Magnesium Hydroxide, Butryospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Rose Centifolia Flower Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Charcoal Power (Activated), Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Proprietary Blend of 11 Essential Oils. There's no aluminum, no parabens, no triclosan, no phthalates, or synthetic fragrances. It's also cruelty free!


Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received a PiperWai product in exchange for this review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

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