The Busy Giffs: November 2015

November 29, 2015

Wubble Ball #GloWubble

Disclaimer: I was provided this product in exchange for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links, I may be compensated for purchases made through these links. For more information, click here

Remember last year when Emmalee received the Wubble Ball? We had a blast with it! She loved how huge it was!

Once again, she got to play with a Wubble Ball, but this time it was the new Glo Wubble!

The big ball is inflated with an enclosed air pump. While it is battery operated, there are no batteries included, so be sure to have some on hand if you want to be able to play right away.  We didn't have any so it was off to the store. Once we had the batteries, it inflated quickly. It gets BIG!

We brought the ball to the basement where it was dark but didn't get any glow, so we weren't sure if it needed to "charge" so we propped it near the window while we enjoyed lunch.  When we brought it down to the basement, it had a bit of a glow, but wasn't as much as we expected, so we propped it up again. After a couple hours in the light/sun, it was really glowing!!

We had a lot of fun bouncing it around in the basement! That is, until it popped, which was entirely our fault, not the balls! It hit a nail that was stuck out partially from one of the studs while we're working on the basement. --sad face--

Emmalee really loved playing with the Wubble Ball and we've already purchased 3 more since!

The entire Wubble brand makes really great, fun gifts for this holiday season!

November 23, 2015

#ManCrushMonday: Tommy John

It's Monday! The Monday of a 2 day work week so I am quite happy over here. Last night I received a Facebook request from my cousin-in-law, asking if I wanted to donate to his "Movember Campaign".  Every November, the Testicular Cancer Foundation sponsors a No Shave November type deal, getting men to vow to go shave-less for the whole month while raising money for research.

Fun fact, I participated two years ago in my own school's program! I went a whole month without shaving my face and on the final day, walked in wearing a fake beard. I wore it all day, so it was both hilarious and beneficial because I was able to raise some amazing money for the foundation.

This year, I am not going to be donning a fake beard but I have decided to make a few purchases through Tommy John to help them raise money and help men become more proactive about their health. Did you know that on average, every hour, a man is diagnosed with testicular cancer? Yikes.  So why am I supporting Tommy John and how are they helping the cause?

Tommy John is donating 5% of all sales coming from the limited edition “Mustache and Ball” print collection.

They are are contributing $10 for each purchase made by new customers who were referred by someone else, so you know, tell them I sent you! And, even more fun, they are donating $1 for each entry in their Instagram contest up to $1,000! C'mon, how easy is Instagram?!

​ ​To enter, take a photo of any pair of round objects, and tag them on Instagram @TommyJohnWear, @TesticularCancerFoundation & #SupportYourBalls for a chance to win free products from Tommy ​John!
For example:

Blue balls. Ha. I love puns, but I digress.  Testicular Cancer is not a joke, and after loosing my father last month to a different form of cancer, it hits home even more. 

Even as a woman, I'll be doing my part to make sure David heads to the doctor to get checked, donating to these amazing campaigns, and helping to end this terrible epidemic.

How are you going to help?

November 18, 2015

Comparing Babies to Babies

The VTech product, information, and giveaway have been provided by VTech. Additionally, some links are affiliate links which give me a small pay out at no cost to you if you purchase through my link.

I have never been worried about my children's developments. Emmalee was so bright and hit every milestone early. I never had any concern with her. Tyler was the same way, rolling at 3 months, walking at 10 months, I thought for sure he would surpass his sister's abilities because she was there to keep up with. He had to be smarter faster to keep up with her but at 18 months old, he doesn't use words. 

Don't get me wrong, he communicates, but doesn't use words. He points, claps, shakes his hands, says "pop!", and has a very distinct "Ehhhh" type screech when he wants something, but he doesn't use words. I wasn't concerned until the doctor mentioned something at his 15 month check up. And then I I convinced myself that I had nothing to worry about because his communication skills are fine, even if he doesn't use words.  Why would he need words? He has a 4 year old sister who says everything he would ever need to, so he's getting by just fine. But as we hit, and passed, and the 18th month mark with no new words, I am nervous again.

I was excited when I was contacted by VTech the same week to see if I would be interested in talking with Dr. Lise Eliot, an Early Childhood Mental Development Expert for a blog post. Dr. Lise Eliot is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science and she received an A.B. degree from Harvard University, a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and did post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She focuses on children’s brain and mental development and has written countless articles and has authored two books.

Of course my first question was what was weighing on my mind.

If my 18-month-old is not speaking words yet, what can I do as a parent to help them with his development?

LE: The most important stimulation any young child receives is verbal--talk to your baby; sing to him; read to him; engage him in "dialogue" even if you are only pretending that his babbles make sense.  Your child understands words, even if he cannot say them, and will appreciate the sense of being understood.  However, if your child really has no spoken vocabulary at 18 months, you should talk to your pediatrician, who may refer you to a speech therapist.

Because we do this already, it kind of solidified that I really do need to have Tyler evaluated. That 18 month mark seems to be where doctors and experts draw the line so depending on what our doctor says at his next appointment, we will consider an assessment to see if he needs any time of Early Intervention.

I also asked a question regarding Emma.

In this day of pushing children to do everything earlier and earlier, what age range is truly developmentally appropriate for early reading skills?

LE: As always, it depends on the child, but for the average kid, age 5-6 is plenty early to begin formal reading instruction.  Before that age, focus on your child's mastery of the alphabet and letter sounds. ABC books are great for this, especially if they have clever pictures that tell a story using many words with the same beginning sound. Rhyming books and songs are also great for teaching letter sounds, so once children start focusing on letter patterns, they will already be familiar with the rhyming sounds they make. You can also look for toys that serve as vocabulary builders, like VTech’s Spinning Lights Learning Hippo, which promote phonics and language development that can help with early reading skills.

It felt really great to hear that although Tyler is struggling with his words, we're on the right track with both him and Emma when it comes to helping push their development. We talk constatntly, push literacy and reading even if they don't know the words and story walk instead, and we use toys that encourage this type of development!

One of our favorite toys is the VTech Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train.

This amazing train works for both kids, to play with! Tyler pushes himself around on it while Emma puts the letter blocks into the talking port where she listens to the letter, the sound, and fun songs. It is the perfect toy to get them learning while playing!
Kids can play ten activities while learning letters, numbers, colors and more
The train helps build motor skills with six manipulative features including a storybook, clock, gears and 13 double-sided letter blocks that little ones can plug into the side of the train to learn letters and build their vocabulary
When little conductors get older, the caboose converts into a wagon they can fill with toys and pull along to develop gross motor skills!

If they didn't have it already, we'd be asking Santa for it so we're going to play Santa and let one of our lucky readers win one! 
Open to US readers, winner will be notified on December 5th and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 

November 16, 2015

#ShareTheJoyofPie with Marie Callender's® Dessert Pies!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheJoyOfPie #CollectiveBias

It's November and it's starting to get cold and honestly, I don't like it. Cold means winter and winter means snow and no. Just no thank you.  Last year was the worst winter in Boston's history.  Record breaking snow, missed work, down power lines... welcome to New England...

One of the best parts of last winter was getting to be friends with our new neighbors. Tyler was only 7 months old when the snow hit last year, Emma was only 3!, and with David working it was impossible really, really hard to shovel on my own. After the first big storm, Dave was coming home in the am since he had been stuck at work overnight because of the snow, I looked out the window and our neighbor was in the driveway with the snow blower! How sweet, right? And even more sweet? All he asked for in return was some homemade cookies! My little baker was happy to oblige!

Well, now that it's getting cold again, that means snow... clearly, I hate snow and I wanted to get a jump on the sweets for our sweet neighbor!

While we were at Walmart last week, Dave had a craving for some Apple Pie so we grabbed a Marie Callender's® Dutch Apple Dessert Pie, some Vanilla pudding, and Reddi-Wip®. I decided it wasn't too early to start buttering up our neighbor so I also grabbed a mason jar and some burlap ribbon.
I had an idea. I was going to make a layered, Caramel Apple Pie Parfait that I could gift to him and his wife! Super easy to make and even easier to gift!

Emma was so excited to be able to bake! She especially loved that we got to put the crumb on top of the pie! I LOVE the crumb so I was happily surprised by how much crumb was included and I loved that we got to put it on, rather than having it pre-done, it absolutely made it feel even more homemade!

After baking, we let the pie cool and made vanilla pudding. Emma even has her own pudding making whisk! We ran off to watch Wild Kratts while everything cooled and then assembled the mason jar, starting with a layer of pie, followed by a layer of pudding, and then some caramel.  We did a second set and topped it off with some Reddi-Wip®!

I added some burlap ribbin but it felt like it was missing something, so I hopped on the computer and made a quick little note to add to the top of the jar.

Direct and gets the point across right? Ps. You can totally save the image and print it out yourself to do it! I found that printing it on a a sheet of wallet size photos was perfect for a standard mason jar! 

We wrapped it up and ran across the street, leaving it on the porch railing, right where he'd see it when he got home!

Here's hoping he loved it! Got a neighbor who you'd love to #SharetheJoyofPie with? You can make our dessert or check out a ton more ideas, and coupons, here!

November 12, 2015

Apple Crisp for Two... Or One!

I think I'm the only "basic white girl" who doesn't love pumpkin, or pumpkin spice, or coffee... I digress. Give me yoga pants, leggings, duck boots, oversized sweatshirts, and plaid infinity scarves and I fit the "basic white girl" bill, except for my un-love of all things pumpkin.  Maybe once in a while I'll light a pumpkin vanilla candle, but that's it.

So when September rolls around I'm in love. September is the holy month of Fall before Pumpkin takes over. As of October 1st, pumpkin is king and the apple disappears, which is not okay with me.
I would eat apple everything all day, like my caramel apple dippers, yum.  But sometimes, I just want some warm apple pie and as a full time working mom, I don't have time to make a full pie every time I want a piece of warm pie.

Apple Pie for One or Two recipe

So I came up with a super easy Apple "pie" for Two, but let's be honest, I eat it by myself a lot.

I use a small Corningware white ceramic dish and cut one large apple into thin slices.
Place in the dish.
In a small bowl, I combine 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/4 cup rolled oats.
I melt 2 Tbs of butter and mix it into the sugar and oat mix.
Spoon the mixture over apple slices.
Bake at 350* for 20 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Obviously, enjoy it with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

November 10, 2015

Life Update

Hello there!

It's been quiet here for a bit and with good reason.  My life has just been falling apart. Seriously. The week after going to the beautiful Seacrest Beach Hotel, I had a huge attack at work.  I wasn't sure what caused it but I couldn't breath, stand up, or move without sharp pains radiating through my entire chest, stomach, and back.

I was in the middle of my first class of the day and after the school nurse came down to check on me (benefit of working in a high school), she sent me to Urgent Care since my heart rate was at 122.

I spent 3 days out of work doing blood work, doctor's visits and ultrasounds to finally figure out that I had gallstones and had an attack from that.


A week later, I got a phone call from my mom that my dad, who had been fighting stage 4 cancer for over a year, was in the hospital again.  His body was having a hard time and was shutting down.  My head was there for the 4 days he was in the hospital and that weekend, he passed away. There's so much more to say but for now, this is all I can put in writing. We spend the next few days preparing to say good bye to him and then said our final good byes.


The next week, I had to get to work in my classroom.  I was so behind from missing 6 days in less than 3 weeks, that I ignored everything else, had panic attacks every day and forced myself to keep working even though most days I just wanted to curl up and sleep.

It was during this time that the doctors office called to confirm that I needed a gallbladder removal surgery. I have severe anxiety about anything surgical related so this was stressing me out for two weeks. I was a literal mess and other than focusing on helping to host my school's National Honor Society Trunk or Treat the night before Halloween, I wasn't much help to anyone.


Friday I had my surgery. Now mind you, I had a full blown, crying, panic attack as the anesthesiologist was talking to me about it all because... like I said, anxiety. But everything went well.  The doctor said I was one of his easiest surgeries all week and everything looks good.  I am out of work for a couple more days while I wean myself off the narcotics they gave me for pain and learn how much I can and cannot be on my feet while teaching.  I'm sure there will still be soreness for another week or so but I'm excited to get back into the classroom after being out so much this past month.

The nice thing about being out is that I have gotten ahead on my lesson plans, had time to email companies and have even more fun holiday posts coming up, and now that I feel caught up and normal again, I can get back to my regularly scheduled posting.

I'm happy to be back!

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