Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our Snow Removal and Grandson Rules Day

It is not news that a massive snowstorm hit New Jersey on Saturday and left us personally with 25 inches of snow to clear.  This is what it looked out our front door. 

Another word would be lucky.  First our neighbor tirelessly for two days used his snow thrower and included us in his relentless work.  By Sunday afternoon we had only a few mountains to climb and conquer – the porch/steps, one car and the packed in driveway apron with snow from the snow plows.  I was out there making my way to the car when my daughter and grandson arrived.  Like angels from heaven.  Fran took the porch. Zach, equipped with his own snow shovel, took to the car and amazed me with his snow removal skills.  We all worked hard.  Then Pop made hot chocolate with whipped cream.  Hmmm.

Zach is 6 years old and I wanted to reward him for his work and I happened to have just the right thing thanks to my friends at LEGO.  A few months ago I went to a LEGO Star Wars preview.  
LEGO Star Wars Snowspeeder

In Grandma’s secret closet there was this – The LEGO Star Wars microfighters Snowspeeder.  That’s right – the Snowspeeder!  How perfect was that.  Zach was delighted and quickly assembled it added a little droid part and enjoyed playing with it.

We all settled down to relax and Zach was playing quietly by himself in the family room.  He came bursting into the kitchen and said,  "I made words and names with the letters!"  Zach had used the letters from the Appletters game by Bananagrams to spell  all these words and names.  He is in first grade.  I am impressed with his initiative to use the letters to  design his own game of making a word and then a name with the letters.

And that is our Snowy Day story.  What is yours?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Two New Picture Books Destined to Become Classics

Whether you are a fan of A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Blueberries fo Sal by Robery McCloskey, or another wonderfully illustrated timeless children’s book, isn’t it time to check out the classics in the making. We all have favorite children’s books.  I saved some of my children’s favorites and classics and have enjoyed sharing them with my grandson. My Grandma Chronicles facebook page has news feed for all sorts of Children’s books and I decided to find some special ones to recommend. I looked to the 2016 Newberry, Caldecott,and Coretta Scott King awards for books worth checking out.  I then checked Amazon reviews to see what actual readers have to say.  I chose these two picture books to recommend.  They both get high marks for writing and illustrations.  I think they will appeal to a wide age range and become favorites for reading together.  

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

"Last Stop on Market Street," written by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson is the 2016 Newberry Medal winner for most outstanding contribution to children's literature, a Caldecott Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book.  It has also received other prestigious awards.    I am particularly drawn to this book because it features a conversation with a grandmother and grandson. CJ would like to ride in a car instead of the bus and wishes he has things his family cannot afford. His Grandmother talks to him about the beauty surrounding them and the friends on the bus.  I think this one is destined to be an all time favorite and worth adding to your children’s library now.

"Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear," illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick is the Caldecott Medal winner for the most distinguished American picture book for children. It is the telling of a true story. During  World War I a veterinarian rescued a bear and she became a mascot for a group of Canadian soldiers.  Winnie inspired the fictional Winnie-the-Pooh.  This is the Number #1 bestseller in Amazon’s Children’s Literary Biographies category.  Amazon reviewers hail the writing and beautiful illustrations plus the bonus photographs of the “real Winnie.”  All Winnie the Pooh fans should have this book.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LEGO Star Wars Wordless Wednesday

In October I went to a special Lego Star Wars event at the New York LEGO store and I blogged about it. I admit I was a Star Wars newbie and although I haven't yet seen Star Wars - The Force Awakens I am now much better informed. A good deal of my increased knowledge is due to this poster I received at the LEGO Star Wars event. The poster has two sides. This is "The Dark Side" 

24inx36in LEGO Star Wars Poster - The Dark Side

And this is "The Light Side"
24inx36in LEGO Star Wars Poster - The Light Side

Here are a couple of close ups:

You can read more about my visit and the new LEGO Star Wars LEGO sets for The Force Awakens here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Toys for Kids that Grandparents Will Love plus Giveaway and Promo Code

The Grandma Chronicles ANNUAL Holiday Gift Guide is in two sections and each section features a giveaway. Giveaway details are at the end of the post.

The two Holiday Guide sections are:

  • Toys for Kids that Grandparents Will Love (This Article)

This guide is a little different than other holiday guides. Here’s how: 

Part 2 of the guide has 2 special treats.  The giveaway is the Friendly Animals Lacing Cards by eeboo.  eeboo also is offering a 20% discount to readers of The Grandma Chronicles until 12/10/15 with the promo code – grandmachronicles20.

All the gifts are grandparent approved.  Some are new versions of toys that we remember that our kids played with or even we did ourselves.  Some are for budget conscious grandparents and some are for those grandparents who buy the extravagant gift that is not in the parents’ budget.

This guide features items that can stay at the grandparents’ house and not take up a lot of room or can easily be transported for a visit.  Toys and games that grandparents can play with a grandchild are my personal favorites.

The guide is peppered with my commentary.  I have personally seen everything on this list - many out of the box and some I have played with my grandson.  They offer quality and value and the toys are the sort of things that become favorites.   The pictures shown have almost all been taken by me.  I either took the pictures at a show display or in my kitchen.  

Almost everything in this guide is available at Amazon.com.  I suggest you check out other online options for price comparisons. Online shopping is a great way to go but prices do vary so comparison shopping is important.

Here’s the Guide – in order of age – very approximately

Playskool Stack 'n Stow Cups
Playskool Stack 'n Stow Cups
This is a classical stacking cups set but it has something special going for it.  It is part of the new Playskool Play, Stow and Go line. When stacked in the base, the lion face snaps securely in place and you are ready to go.  This doesn’t take up a lot of space, is bargain priced and works for visits to grandma’s or a friend’s for coffee.  Look for the other toys in the Play, Stow and Go line – they are all winners.

Red Thread Collection by Bunnies by the Bay
Red Thread Collection by Bunnies by the Bay
If super soft, cuddly plush animals are your thing, look no further.  The Red Thread Collection stuffed animals are soooo soft and squeezable. Perfect for sleepovers with grandparents.The owl and fox are my personal favorites. A portion of proceeds is donated to a charity which supports orphaned children in China.  

Corolle Mon Premier Bebe Calin Christmas Tales Baby Doll
Corolle is a French company that makes the most beautiful, quality made dolls.  I took this picture at Toy Fair in NY in February and fell in love with this Bebe Calin doll featured for Christmas this year.   

She is a sweetheart.  A special doll for a special little girl.

eeboo Friendly Animals Lacing Cards

Friendly Animals Lacing Cards by eeboo

Do you remember playing with lacing cards with your kids?  And when you were a kid?  I do.  These are fun and great for developing fine motor skills.  What a pleasant, quiet activity that a grandparent can do together with a young child.   

Thank you eeboo for sponsoring the giveaway with the Friendly Animals Lacing Cards.  Use the promo code grandmachronicles20 at the eeboo website by 12/10/15 for a 20% discount.

TMNT Half Shell Heroes Patrol Buggy
Kids absolutely love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys.  This Half Shell Heroes line is designed for younger kids. The truck easily changes from a  truck to a tank.  Includes a Leonardo figure.

LEGO Juniors Knights Castle
I love this between DUPLO and LEGO Junior series that LEGO has designed for ages 4-7.   If you are shopping for a grandchild who has mastered DUPLOs and is ready for the next step, but doesn’t yet have the fine motor skills needed for LEGOs, try these LEGO Juniors.  My grandson loved them.  This Knights’ Castle set was the preschool Toy of the Year winner at Toy Fair NY.

Eeboo Snowman’s Band Glitter Puzzle – 64 Pieces
Puzzles are a favorite activity to do with our grandson and we always have some ready on sleepover nights.  I like having seasonally themed puzzles and eeboo has wonderful ones.  We enjoyed their Beautiful Morning puzzle in spring and summer and the Snowman’s Band is perfect for snowy winter indoor days. Sturdy bright colored pieces and the glitter makes it special. Here's my husband and grandson enjoying the Snowman's Band puzzle.

Use the promo code grandmachronicles20 at the eeboo website by 12/10/15 for a 20% discount.

Batman Night Goggles and Utility Belt by Spy Gear
Batman Night Googles and Utility Belt from Spy Gear
These pictures are actually of prototypes that I took at Toy Fair in February.  The Spy Gear toys will give a child real powers that they can use in the backyard at night.  Great for camping families.  Don’t you remember playing games like this as a kid?  They are still fun but now there are some super tools available.  They do use batteries.

The LEGO Friends line with themes and colors designed to be attractive to girls has been a winner for LEGO.   

This year’s theme for the line is touring and the Heartlake Hotel is the grand set for this season.  This set has lots of detail and the 1555 pieces includes a working elevator.  Priced at $120 this is in the category of a very special holiday gift but for a girl who likes LEGOs it will provide many hours of imaginative play and develop building skills.

Smithsonian Puzzles by Skullduggery
Smithsonian Motorized 3D Puzzles by Skullduggery
These inexpensive small puzzles are made of thin plastic sheets were one of my favorites at Toy Fair NY.  For ages 6 and up they come in three levels – Easy, Medium and Advanced.  They are perfect stocking stuffers and can be a wonderful project for grandfather and grandchildren to do together.

Thames and Kosmos Fuel Cell 10
Grandchild interested in science?  This isn’t your old fashioned basic science kit.  This is a true 21st century science kit. You can learn how solar cells turn sunlight into electricity and  experiment with a unique reversible Proton Exchange Membrane fuel cell.  For ages 10 and up.  This is a pricey gift but a worthwhile investment for the child who is interested in science.

Giveaway Details
It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:
Leave a comment here on the blog

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: December 1, 2015 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only.

Update 12/3/15:  The Giveaway is now closed.  Lindsey is the winner.  Thanks everyone for participating.  Check back and Like The Grandma Chronicles Facebook page for more giveaways.