Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Treemote - Remote On Switch for your Christmas Tree Lights


Here is an early present idea for you to give yourself a - Treemote.  It is a remote for turning on your Christmas tree lights or any lamp for that matter.

Christmas shopping season is here.  The kids are just beginning to be bombarded with the must have toys this season but they haven’t yet gelled what exactly will be on their list.  Soon I will have my own list of Toys Grandparents Will Love to Give – but I am not ready with that post yet.  Today I want to tell you about something you should get for yourself.

If you are like me you have always had to sort of crawl behind the tree to put the lights on and off.  We did that for years with our “real” tree that was beautiful but took up a lot of space, needed to be continually watered and left us with pine needles all year long.  A few years ago, at our son’s urging, we bought a small  artificial tree with pre-lit lights that sits on an end table in front of our living room window.  We love it!  It gets brought to the attic without taking it apart and it is no trouble at all – the perfect grandparent tree.  However, the outlet for the lights is still low on the wall behind the tree.  My son again had a great suggestion last year.  Even though with two small children they are always crawling around on the floor, they had a remote switch and turned their tree lights on with a flick of a switch kept on their mantle.  Hmmm…sounds like a great idea…I think I’ll look into that for next year.

Lo and behold, I had this opportunity to receive a Treemote to review.  Well my Christmas tree is still in the attic so I tried it out on a floor lamp in the living room.  The best news is you can use it for any lamp all year long and it works up to 80 feet away.  This is helpful for me too as when I turn my living room light out for the night I then walk in the darkened room to go upstairs to my bedroom.  I intend to hook it up to this light and leave the remote on my kitchen counter.
This is the Treemote out of the box.

It is simple to install and use but the instructions could use a one step improvement.  I followed the instructions and the lamp light did not go on.  But when I looked at the troubleshooting box, I saw that the lights need to be left in the on position.  Problem solved.  See the operation instructions (It doesn't get easier than this) and the troubleshooting step highlighted that made the difference for me.

Whether you have the same issue I did of a hard to reach Christmas tree lights outlet or a lamp that is inconvenient to turn on and off, you should give yourself an early Christmas gift and get the treemote.

It is available here on Amazon.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Apple and Pumpkin Picking with my Grandson

Apple and pumpkin picking at Alstede Farm in Chester, NJ has become a Fall tradition in our family. This is one of days I look forward to all year - it is a perfect grandparent outing no matter what the age of your grandchild.  But there is so much variety in what is available that you will want o choose carefully which farm you go to.  Some farms are small and have a playground for young children and a nearby pumpkin patch with just a few activities.  My grandson is 8 years old so these days we go to a very large farm with lots of things to do and fruit and vegetables to pick with a long tractor ride to the various fields.  There is also a corn maze with two entrances  - easy and hard - so you can accomadate different age kids.  A place to buy lunch and later homemade ice cream.  And get this not only do they have hot dogs and hamburgers - I was able to have a fresh vegetable wrap - ummm.

Here are some pictures that don't begin to capture the fun of the day.

The day  begins with my grandson climbing the giant haystack at the entrance to the farm as I get in line to purchase tickets.  That's him as King of the Hill.

My grandson searched to the perfect pumpkin and he found four of them!

There were lots of varieties of apples to pick but we settled on Jonagold and MacIntosh.  We ate some and then I made an apple pie with the remainder - delicious.

On the long tractor ride to the fields.

Here are the pumpkins on my dining room table waiting to be decorated.  One will be painted teal and displayed outside to let people know that we give non-food treats in support of children with allergies.

If you haven't visited a farm and gone pumpkin and apple picking with your grandchildren, I highly recommend it.  It is a fun day for a wide range of ages and a good way to spend the day outdoors.  Yes, you will be tired at the end of the day but it is so worth it.

Here are some books to read to compliment your trip.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Favorite Toys at Toy Insider’s Holiday of Play

On Wednesday I attended the Holiday of Play press event in New York sponsored by Toy Insider.  It was a very classy event held in the Manhattan Penthouse overlooking Fifth Avenue.  Each company featured their new toys for this holiday season and we were able to get an up close “out of the box” look at many of the new toys. It is always fun to speculate on which toys will be “hot” this season.  I also saw a bunch that appealed to my “grandma’s eye" – whether or not they become hot.  My experience is that the most loved toys don’t have to be on the hot list.

Here are some of my favorites.  I wasn’t able to get a good picture of everything so I apologize for some of the picture quality.
Remote-Control Machines: Construction Vehicles by Thames & Kosmos
Remote-Control Machines: Construction Vehicles by Thames & Kosmos
You can build 8 different models of construction vehicles that are controlled with a remote-control unit with this set.  There is a step by step guide for building the machines and the process has been simplified so that younger children can build them with some help.  The set comes with a 64 page manual to guide you through the building process and it also provides a learning opportunity with information about how they work and physics concepts of force, torque and simple machine principles.  This is an excellent grandparent/grandchild project to work on together.

Doc McStuffins All-in-One Nursery  by Just Play

Doc McStuffins All-in-One Nursery  by Just Play

Doc McStuffins is still going strong and this new playset looks like it will be a lot of fun for a pre-schooler fan. The center features a cradle that rocks for the baby’s doctor’s visit and all sorts of equipment. Some of the items included are  a portable patient diagnostic laptop, stethoscope (with light and sound), scale and other nursery tools.  It is stand up play size for a pre-schooler.

Hexbug Space Nano Discovery Station by Hexbug

Hexbug Space Nano Discovery Station by Hexbug

Calling all Hexbug fans – you will love the nano discovery station.  Who doesn’t love hexbugs.  I think this is a great toy that grandparents will also enjoy playing with their grandchildren.  It comes with 2 nanos and of course you can use your own hexbug nanos with it.  Lots of details and places for the nanos to scurry off too.  All five star reviews at Amazon.

Uno Emoji by Mattel 

Uno Emoji by Mattel 

My grandson, husband and I love to play Uno and have spent many a rainy or babysitting day playing Uno as time flies by.  This is a classic card game where luck and strategy meet to create surprise winners.  My grandson is also a big emoji fan and has many emoji featured items.  I flipped when I saw this Uno Emoji game display.  Priced under $10 it is a perfect stocking stuffer, travel game or grandchild visiting game to have on hand.  Definitely a must have.

Shopkins Cutie Cars by Moose

Shopkins Cutie Cars by Moose

These shopkins cars are sooooo cute – no wonder they are called cutie cars.  The tops pop off and they become convertibles.  Priced at $5 at ToysRUs, these are perfect stocking stuffers or grandparent visit gifts for shopkins lovers.  I usually have a link to Amazon for most items but right now they are way overpriced at Amazon so I am sending you to ToysRUs for this one.

LEGO DUPLO Town Santa’s Winter Holiday

This is a cute DUPLO set with a Santa theme.  It has 45 pieces and you may want to put it away after Christmas and take it out next year and the year after that….

And before I left I took a picture of the view of Fifth avenue from the Manhattan Penthouse venue:

You can order these items at Amazon today:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

National Geographic Back to School Must Haves

Each year as kids get older their "must haves" for back to school get more sophisticated.  If this will be you grandchild's first year in middle school, it can be an even bigger leap.  Besides a totally different social scene, older and more kids, there are new subjects to learn, new types of homework projects, changing classes and more teachers.

National Geographic Kids has two products that truly impressed me and can help a middle school child deal with all these new realities and responsibilities.

The National Geographic Kids Weird but True Daily Planner
One of the most important new skills needed when kids get to middle school is organization.  It can be overwhelming and definitely not fun.  Just as the cover says, this planner is filled with 365 days of school, sports, friends and fun.  Each 2 page spread has space for everything you need to know about 4 days - homework, activity schedules, fun and seasonal graphics and some doodle space.

The back has excellent homework help pages with a world atlas, a basic report structure outline, preparing oral report tips, conversion and multiplication tables, and more.

The National Geographic Kids United States Atlas

When I think of an atlas I think of maps only.  But this atlas is so much more.  It provides an excellent learning experience about each state and can be an excellent resource for the all important reports.  The book is organized by region begin with regional maps.  Each state has a 2 page spread featuring a state fact box, pictures, charts and graphs, a detailed map with economy symbols overlaid throughout the map.   I live in New Jersey so I chose NJ to highlight as an example of what you see for each state.

The NJ State Fact Box

There is lots to learn on the series of full United States maps in the front of the book  The back of the book has more US Facts and Figures and an excellent detailed index.  This Atlas can start to be used in middle school and stay on your shelf for many years to come.

I highly recommend these books for kids in middle school.  They are beautiful, high quality and full of information useful for success in school.

Both of these books are reasonably priced and available at Amazon  Click below:

Smurfs: The Lost Village Now on DVD

Okay grandparents –   I know you remember the Smurfs because your kids loved them.  Well guess what – now your grandkids do too.  I saw Smurfs: The Lost Village movie with my grandson in the theater and I really enjoyed it as much as he did.  Now it is available on DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and any combination that works on your home screen.  When my DVD arrived, my 8 year old grandson was ecstatic.

The movie is action packed and has an amazing color palette that will mesmerize you.  It features an all star voice cast with lots of younger cast names you won’t recognize plus Julia Roberts as SmurfWilliow and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf.  I’m sure you recognize them.  Here is a lsit of the voice actors:

The storyline involves Smurfette and her friends slipping into the Forbidden Forest with a mysterious map and having a spectacular race and ordeal to beat the evil wizard Gargemel to the Lost Village.  They do arrive after an unbelieveable journey and there is a big surprise when they get there – I won’t spoil the movie by telling you the surprise.

My grandson wanted to see the movie immediately when the DVD arrived and he has enjoyed it as much as he did in the theater.  This weekend he will get to see it with an audience of at least 5 other kids  and interested adults on a large screen.  The popcorn will make it seem even more like we were at the Movies again.

The DVD versions come with bonus content including new featurettes,  a Meghan Trainor music video and more.

All of these versions should be available everywhere including at Amazon:

Monday, August 7, 2017

The New Weird School Game Review plus Giveaway

All elementary school age kids love the My Weird School books by Dan Gutman.  And they will have a blast with the brand new, first My Weird School Game  - Miss Bernard is a Wild Card. When the game arrived my 8 year old grandson could not wait to play it and we both couldn’t stop laughing as we played. It is fun, funny, and educational - all wrapped up in one package. And... I am so excited to be offering one of the games as a giveaway.  The entry is easy  - see the details at the end of the review.

There are My Weird School teacher character, rhyming, action, adjective and noun cards plus Miss Bernard wild cards.  The wild cards give it that spin with ever changing possibilities.

Each player has his/her own sentence game board. In turn you draw from the deck of cards and try to complete sentences on your individual game board. You can start out easy by just completing sentences or play an advanced version.    Every sentence is hilarious.  The pictures above show one of my grandson’s sentences and one of mine.  Notice the number in the color bar on top.  The cards have different point values but you can play with or without assessing points.  We started out just to see who could complete a sentence first and then we advanced to counting points.

In addition to laughing out loud, the game develops math, reading and strategic thinking skills.  It is a perfect grandparent/grandchild game to play with elementary school age children.  You will be the cool grandparent who knows about the Weird School books if you get this game.

My grandson and I laughed our way through playing game after game.    A picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are a few that tell all about how we enjoyed the game.

My Weird School Game is hot off the presses and it is already winning awards. It just won a 2017 GAME OF THE YEAR award in the Educational Reading Skills Games category by Creative Child Magazine and I bet there are more to come.

At my very last stop at Toy Fair in February when I could barely stand up,  I made a command visit to the All Things Equal, Inc booth and met author Dan Gutman in person.  My daughter had seen on facebook that the game was coming out and she asked me to look for it at Toy Fair.  Here I am with Dan.  I impressed my grandson more with this picture that the one of me with the ghostbusters.  Thanks All Things Equal for providing me with a review copy of the game plus one to giveaway.

This review is solely my own opinion I did not receive any compensation for the review.  I did receive a game in order to conduct the review.

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


Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page - click here.

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: August 27, 2017 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only. 

This post is listed at https://www.bloggiveawaydirectory.com/

Miss Bernard Is a Wild Card is available at Amazon:

Friday, August 4, 2017

Grandparents Having Fun in Ocean City, NJ

Every summer I look forward to our vacation in Ocean City, NJ with my daughter, her husband and my grandson.  Ocean City is the real Jersey Shore unlike the TV show by that name.  The Jersey Shore is one of best places on earth for families to vacation. We are lucky to live in New Jersey and be able to load up two cars and drive down the parkway to our favorite shore town.  Ocean City is “dry” (no alcoholic beverages allowed) and there are no gambling games on the boardwalk.  It is a true family vacation destination.

What I like most about it, it is the most multigenerational vacation place I know.   Many - not just some - of the families vacationing here include grandparents and we are having a grand time!

Here are a few pictures I took of grandparents with their grandchildren at the beach. I asked permission to publish these pictures and I thank all of you who proudly let me take pictures of you and your grandchildren for my readers to enjoy.

These grandparents and granddaughter are walking hand and hand at the ocean's edge.

This Grandmom was helping out with five granddaughters and had built a castle with 5 sand seats so that she could take a picture of all of them together.  Her little granddaughter explained which Disney characters each of them would be and asked me if I knew why Snow White didn't have fancier shoes.

If there is a big dig and a young child there frequently is a grandfather involved.  Check these out:

 And this happy guy was building a castle with twins!

I was too busy taking pictures of other grandparents and I forgot to get one of me with my grandson.  Here he is collecting shells to decorate our big dig.

Vacationing at Ocean City also involves having a great time on the Boardwalk.  There are the rides, the arcade, miniature golf, waterpark, nightly entertainment and ice cream.  There is so much happening I got in trouble one night for bringing my grandson home so late.

Here I am on the boardwalk with my daughter and grandson:

This is a better picture of Zach with a minion on the boardwalk:

Do you vacation with your grandchildren?  Please leave a comment with your vacation memories.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Despicable Me Labyrinth Game by Ravensburger - A Winner!

The Despicable Me Movie is a big family blockbuster movie this summer.  If you haven’t seen it, it is great fun for the dog days of summer.  Whether or not you have seen the movie, this Ravensburger - Despicable Me Labyrinth game spells lots of family fun.  I tested it out with my 8 year old grandson and found that it was challenging and engaging. 

You set up the game board randomly placing 33 maze tiles on the board plus one off the board next to one of arrows. (The board has some set tiles that don't move.) The 24 character cards are dealt face down to the players.  In turn each player chooses a character card and then uses the “extra” tile to push the maze by one tile width anywhere there is an arrow.  Then the player moves his piece trying to get to the character on the card he has drawn.  Since the maze shifts on each turn this can get challenging….but sometimes the shift will give you a clean shot – or perhaps a circuitous route - to that character.  If you like games where the possibility of winning is always changing you will love this.  And you have to always be adjusting your strategy as the maze is always changing.  The object is to get to all the characters in your hand first.  2 – 4 players can play.

Ravensburger is well known for puzzles.  Now that Wonder Forge has joined Ravensburger they have used both their game and puzzle know-how to create a new kind of challenge with both game playing and puzzle solving skills needed.

The box says it is for ages 7 - 99.  But I think most 7 year olds could get frustrated but the constantly changing gameboard and figuring out the best strategy.  And 99 year olds…..well if they are patient and still have good eyesight and know what a minion is….
Here’s my grandson after the first game.  You can see  that he is ready for the challenge to take me on again.

If you would like to order the Despicable me Labyrinth game from Amazon, just click below:

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Fisher-Price Learning Tablet - Time for Grandparents to Get Onboard

Fisher-Price Learning Tablet

When doing product reviews, I usually keep in the Grandma zone and stick mostly to non-battery and non-electronic items.  But Grandmas need to know about what is new, exciting and useful  for our grandchildren. Our grandchildren, however young, have some exposure to smartphones and tablets.  But all tablets are not created equal. Young children can have a more enriched and safe experience on a tablet that is designed just for them.  This one, by one of the most respected names in childhood play, is worth knowing more about. 

The Fisher-Price Learning Tablet has many features especially for young children.  If you are considering buying a tablet for a pre-school age child, this may be the one for you. Here are some highlights that are notable:

Protection – There is a custom bumper around the edges, PLUS there is a hard screen cover which protects the screen.  It easily attaches to the back of the tablet when the tablet is in use. My daughter- in-law especially liked this feature.

Learning Tool – Includes 35 pre-school learning apps featuring Fisher Price characters 

Storybook rhymes – sing along and enjoy the animation

Little People videos – Music videos featuring favorite pre-school toy characters

Kindergarten Readiness – Pre-K and K activities with parental tracking so you can keep abreast of your child’s readiness for Kindergarten

Babies too – Laugh and Learn apps will be enjoyed by babies while learning about cause and effect

Google Play – App store is child safe and does not have any inappropriate features available

Timer enabled – You can set time limits and bedtime shutoff times.

There are a bunch of impressive technical specs also but I’m skipping them in this review.

If you read the reviews about this tablet you will find that there is some set-up time patience required.  The parents who make it through that labyrinth are very happy with the content and controls. That was my daughter-in-law's experience. If the parent isn’t tech savy at all they can get frustrated.  This is going to be true with any product.  The more capabilities and controls there are the more complexity.  For parents who want their children to have both fun and learning activities on a tablet with secure parental controls and a sturdy casing, the Fisher-Price Learning Tablet can be an excellent choice.

Here is my grandson enjoying the tablet with his Dad:

Here is a close up of my grandson with the tablet

Note:  I was not compensated to write this review.  The opinion expressed is my own.  I did receive a product sample for review.