Sweet Critique: Groovy Planet

I am SO excited to bring you guys this review and giveaway!!  I’m not a super-crunchy tree hugger, but I do enjoy purchasing and using products {when possible} that are recycled, recyclable, or fair trade.  Teaching kids the importance of this and having fun at the same time is a super bonus!

What is Groovy Planet?


Groovy Planet is a monthly membership program for kids that teaches them all about the world around them, recycling, and fair trade.

Your child starts out with a welcome kit containing a passport, a sticker, an activity sheet, a map, and a fun round box to keep everything in.

Each month after that, your child receives a new kit with a sticker, an activity sheet, and a recyclable or fair trade item.  I so want to tell you what we got in our second kit, but I don’t want to spoil it.  Suffice it to say that it was something totally unexpected and totally cool, with information I even learned from.

The welcome kit is now available for free!!  Each month’s kit is $14.94, and that includes shipping.  Discounts are available for purchasing six or 12 months at a time.

How Can Homeschoolers Use This?


Oh man, the possibilities are endless!!!  You can use this as a study of world geography, world cultures, the environment, science, recycling, and fair trade.

This could lead to cooking, nature studies, history, and many other things.  I just love how many ways you can use this product.

It’s unique, fun, and fresh; it’s not the same old thing we’ve seen time and again, just repackaged and rebranded.

Guess what?  Groovy Planet is giving one of you two months free!!

Simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter to win!

True Confessions:  I was provided with two free months of Groovy Planet in order to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

[Read more…]

Sweet Sponsor: My Job Chart

About a year ago, we started using My Job Chart to help Babydoll keep track of her chores.  I read about it on some blog and thought, “Hm, I guess I’ll give it a whirl.”  I had already used traditional chore charts, old fashioned memory, and a variety of other methods and they just weren’t working.

The problem:  I couldn’t remember to remind Babydoll to do her chores and I couldn’t remember to pay out the promised reward.  I felt like a pathetic parent…

How My Job Chart Helped


I think My Job Chart can really be used in a variety of ways:

  • Straight allowance system
  • Organizational tool
  • Teaching tool

We use a combination of the latter two.  I haven’t really used this to implement an allowance system {we don’t really do a traditional allowance system in our house}, although it definitely could be used for that.  I have used it to help keep me organized with regard to Babydoll’s chores.

I was able to sit down one day and list out all the chores I have her do, how often, and assign a point value to them.  Done!  That’s it!  You guys know how I love anything technological anyway, so something that was browser based that I could update from my laptop was awesome.

If I need to make changes, I can just log in to my parent account and do so.  Babydoll then has a child account that she logs into that is used to check off the chores as she does them.  She can visibly see how many points she’s earning for the day, how many she’s already earned, and the split between spending, saving, and giving.

At the end of each day, I get an email letting me know which chores she has done and which ones she hasn’t.  We can even send little notes to each other!

While we’ve gotten a bit out of our routine, when we’re working at normal speed, Babydoll knows to wake up and head to the chart.  When she is ready to redeem a reward, I’m notified electronically and can fulfill it electronically, depending on the reward.

Babydoll mainly chose items on Amazon, although we added things like Daddy/Daughter Date Night to the list too.  She actually saved her points for quite a while and got a Hello Kitty Razor Scooter a few month back.  She loves the thing, especially since she had to wait so long to buy it.

Want to Learn More?


Check out this video to learn more about the idea behind My Job Chart and how it works. Also, check them out on Facebook and Twitter. They’ve even got a blog with lots of interesting ideas.

True Confessions:  I was compensated for writing this post, however, we do use My Job Chart, and have used them for quite a while.  I really do love the system and would recommend it to any family struggling to keep track of chores.  All opinions stated are my own.

Sweet Critique: Invisalign


InvisalignInvisalign TeenHow many of you had metal braces growing up {or right now}?

*raises hand*

I did!  And I had a particularly pleasurable experience.

My Experience


Not only did I get to wear metal braces, I was allowed to get a jaw expander {super fun!} AND to wear the braces for about three and a half years.

My teeth weren’t terribly crooked, but I have a freakishly tiny mouth.  The orthodontist needed to spread things out a bit more and that took time and pain.  Lots of pain.

Let me tell you, feeling your entire sinus region “moving” as your mother has a “key” in your mouth expanding a metal appliance in the top of your mouth is uber disgusting.  I shudder to this day thinking about that…

Then there was the fun of having food stuck on top {there was a small space between the roof of my mouth and the appliance} and the inability to talk properly.

That one probably takes the cake.  And I couldn’t say the word “cake.”  It came out more like “kek.”  Yeah.  Cheesecake came out like “teeskek.”  That was a ton of fun to deal with as a sophomore in high school.

The braces hurt, the metal irritated me, but it was all in the name of straight teeth so dang it, I was doing it.

Don’t get me wrong; I am so grateful to my mother and stepfather for getting them for me.  My teeth were crooked and I had a weird tiny mouth, so I loved my teeth/mouth when it was all said and done.  But had there been an option like Invisalign at that time, it would have been ten times better.

Side note:  If my research is correct, Invisalign was introduced to the public in May, 2000, which was right around the time mine were coming off.  The story behind the invention, though, is pretty neat.  Never really knew how they were invented.

The Real Deal on Invisalign


There is actually a ton I could tell you about Invisalign.  I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast they held at Bloggy Boot Camp and learned quite a bit and had a lot of questions answered.

I think the biggest shocker to me was the fact that I don’t have to wait till Babydoll has all her permanent teeth in to start her treatment.  I haven’t had her evaluated yet, but if/when she needs orthodontics, I can get started sooner rather than later, and I like that.  Invisalign treatment accounts for the growth of new teeth and you’re good to go.

I also enjoy the fact that Invisalign has tailored their product to the needs of teens.  This shows me that a} they’re in tune with what their customers need and b} they’re an innovative company that is always working to make awesome breakthroughs.  Both are serious wins.

Blue compliance indicators {you’re able to see if they’re actually wearing their aligners}, guaranteed replacements, and less time at the orthodontist are all awesome benefits of the Invisalign Teen system.  Looking back on my experience with braces, I’m sure my mother would have really enjoyed not having to worry about broken wires and {seemingly} constant orthodontist appointments.

And, Invisalign is just freaking cool!  Their newest edition, G3, is their third generation product with advances such as smart cuts {the orthodontist doesn’t have to manually cut the aligners to allow for rubber bands} and smart force {allows a computer to accurately predict what needs to be done for each tooth to achieve the look you want and need}.

The Nitty Gritty


Invisalign treatment generally lasts for about the same amount of time as traditional metal braces, and also usually costs about the same.

Check out this little presentation I put together for even more detailed information about the products.

I Want It


While I had traditional braces, I didn’t wear my retainer like I should have.  For the record, I swear I don’t remember the orthodontist telling me I needed to wear it for the rest of my life…

At any rate, my teeth have shifted, and I’ve got quite a bit of an overbite now.  I hate it because I regularly bite my lip when I’m eating; not cool!

Even my bottom teeth, which have a permanent retainer {I learned at the breakfast that it wasn’t permanent – awesome!} have shifted.

I’d love to be able to use the Invisalign product to get my teeth back to the way they should be; it would totally rock!

Who knows, maybe Babydoll and I could sport our mouth bling together

True Confessions:  I was compensated for writing this sponsored post.  I did actually have metal braces, I did actually have a jaw expander, and I did actually have to wear them that long.  I learned a ton putting this together, and I hope I’ve provided you with information you might not have known otherwise!

Sweet Critique: Kirkland’s Piper Hurricane Candle Holders

Kirklands Hurricane Candle Set

I’ve mentioned before how I really suck at decorating our house. We’ve been here for two years and I have purchased an astonishingly low number of home decor items.

I’ve discussed this with others and we’ve determined that it’s because a) I don’t know how to decorate {give me a cake and I’m golden, a house though, not so much…} and b) I don’t just go looking for things.

Or, I see something I like, but have nowhere to really put it or it wouldn’t work in my space.

When things are brought to my attention, though, it’s much easier for me:  I can either say yes or no, depending upon whether or not I like the item.  This explains my excitement at reviewing this item; I was able to see it {love candles, love big over-the-top stuff, love versatile stuff}, determine that I like it, and then put it in my house.

What I Thought


Kirkland’s Piper hurricane candle holders are awesome!  While I haven’t yet found a place to put them {the places I have thought about, my cat or dog would mess with them}, I’m already excited about using them.  My favorite thing?  They are versatile:  you can use them to simply house three pillar candles or you can place other decorative elements inside as well.

I recently ran into pictures in a magazine where someone had placed various fall leaves and pine cones into the bottom {under the candle} and then put a coordinating candle in; this is genius!  You could change this as often as you like, matching it to all sorts of things!

These are also nice and big {14, 11, and 7.5 inches} and sturdy.  They’d definitely be a focal point, so if you’re looking for something understated in your space, these probably wouldn’t work.

Win a Set!


Kirkland’s has been nice enough to offer a set of Piper hurricane candle holders to one of my readers!!  Simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

As a little side note, I wanted to point out that Kirkland’s has a community {MyKirland’s} where you can get reviews of their products {from actual customers}, design ideas, and other relevant information.  I think I’ll be checking that out through my design dilemma.

True Confessions:  I was provided with a set of Piper candle holders to facilitate my review.  All opinions are honest and my own.

[Read more…]

TOS Sweet Critique: Always Icecream

Always Ice Cream2

What:  Always Icecream


Cost:  $4.99 per month to $29.99 per year or $99.99 lifetime membership

Recommended Ages:  Girls 7 to 12

Always Icecream is a play and learn site exclusively for girls!  Through educational games and videos, girls learn about a vast array of things from geography to math!

Girls are rewarded with Always Icecream currency {scoops} and are able to use that currency to buy things from the store, expand their house, feed their pets, and many other things.  There is also quite a bit of just-for-fun stuff to do like create artwork and other items to sell in the store, watch fun {pre-approved} videos, and play games.

The Educational Stuff

Babydoll loves this type of stuff, but she absolutely LOVES Always Icecream.  She enjoys playing educational games and watching educational videos {we had to endure days of the School House Rock Interjection song…}, and having it all pink and girly is a super plus.

The website covers a vast array of educational topics including language arts, basic math, advanced math, science, geography, history, music, art, foreign languages, and computer skills.  I really like the fact that there is religious education on the site, but you can completely avoid it if you want.

Always Icecream has helped Babydoll learn and practice so many things that she really didn’t like doing otherwise, like multiplication and grammar.

Here are a few screenshots of the fun:

I liked the new member challenge:  it gave Babydoll a series of educational games and other stuff to complete and enticed her to do so by awarding scoops upon completion.


As mentioned, Always Icecream uses ice cream scoops as rewards and currency.  One of Babydoll’s favorite ways to use these is in Pet World.

Also, as a parent, you can award points for a variety of things.

Parental Controls

I love the parental controls in Always Icecream; you have uber control over everything.  I also like the fact that I get an email once a week, letting me know what she’s been up to, what her and her friends have been chatting about, and what educational stuff she’s working on and how she did.  I hate getting those types of email every time she does something, so this way is much nicer.

Final Thoughts

We love, love, love Always Icecream!!!  Love it!  Babydoll is on there every day she can, and I don’t feel bad about it!  There’s even a boys-only version coming soon!!!  You can try it for free, so be sure to go take a look!

Also, check out what the rest of the TOS Crew thinks about it!

True Confessions:  I was provided a subscription to Always Icecream for review purpose; all opinions are honest and my own.