Saturday, December 28, 2013

Have you read the Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bear Reviews Yet?

I've seen a bunch of links floating through my Facebook feed saying the reviews of the Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bears are sooo hilarious. I thought, eh, how funny could they be? As funny as the Hutzler Banana Slicer reviews? I think not.

I could not have been more wrong.

The Haribo Sugarless Gummy Bears reviews are beyond hilarious. Go. Read. Laugh.

Click here to read for yourself.

New here? Check out the Random Handprints Facebook page for more funny stuff, and Instructions for my Husband on Facebook for husband humor.

Amazon affiliate links embedded above, because why not? Oh, and just in case you're wondering, this post is in no way compensated by or endorsed by Haribo.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How to Have a Perfect New Year's Eve with Kids

So you're lucky enough to be spending New Year's Eve with your kids - congratulations! Adult parties are sooooo over-rated, and really who needs to be out on Amateur Night?

If you're a parent, then you know you're better than late night drinking. If you have kids, chances are you've been known to drink early, and often. Who hasn't ordered a 7am mimosa with breakfast, because, quite frankly, it felt like at least 7pm.

But I digress... this isn't about what you could be doing instead on New Year's Eve, this is about what you are actually doing on New Year's Eve: spending a super-fun and memorable night with your beloved children.

As this is how I have spent each and every New Year's Eve for the last decade, here's my foolproof schedule for a perfect New Year's Eve with your kids:

6:00pm: Get ready for your night in! For girls, start with a mani-pedi, the more glittery the better, and finish with shimmery eye makeup and a fancy hairdo. Let them put on their fanciest and/or favorite-st outfit. For boys, nail polish and make-up is optional, but changing into some formal attire is not. My son has already announced he'll be wearing his Iron Man costume.

7:00pm: Dine in style! I'm a fan of the twelve course meal, with each one written out in a menu that's in the shape of a clock, but I also have a lot of time on my hands. If you haven't the desire to make an elaborate menu, let alone meal, any festive meal is a fabulous and perfect way to start the night. We usually have dinner now, and dessert later... 'cause midnight is still six hours away.

8:00pm: Get paper and pen, because it's time to write some heartfelt memories! There are lots of great printables to help with this, but really you don't need a pre-made template. Have the kids write a Top 10 list of favorite things they did in 2013, record all their activities, the best place they traveled, what they like to eat the most, and what their goals are for the year ahead. For a fun twist, have your kids interview you, and each other, investigative reporter style.

9:00pm: Dessert! One year I made a cupcake clock (pictured above, directions here), another time we had cookies decorated like clocks. There's no end to the fun dessert ideas, just take a glance at Pinterest if you need some inspiration. And of course, candy or grapes in multiples of twelve are always a big hit with the littles.

10:00pm: Party like it's New Year's Eve! Turn up the volume and have a dance party, play games, watch videos you recorded in the past year or have the kids perform. End the hour by winding down and reading favorite books and have the kids get into their pajamas.

11:00pm: Get ready for the big moment! Start the countdown now. The little people will more likely than not be acting like tiny terrors by now, so keep the busy. I make five little kits of surprises and toys to keep them happy during the last hour, and the kids open one every ten minutes from 11:00pm to 11:50pm.

11:50pm: Make a Toast! Give the kids as super-special drink for the midnight toast. Sparking apple juice in a champagne flute or warm apple cider in a mug, anything works. Go the extra Pinterest mile if you want with rainbow drinks or cotton candy sodas. When in doubt, add a crazy straw or for a super wow-factor throw in a light-up ice cube.

We give our kids tiny bottles of bubbles to blow as the clock chimes 12, and is a perfectly magical way to bring in a new year and wave goodbye to the old. Also, bubbles in toddler hands make much less noise than do noisemakers.

MIDNIGHT!!!!! You made it! Has anyone puked? Fallen down the stairs? Sent a regrettable drunken text? If not, give yourself a hand on a New Year's Eve gone good.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I'm visiting Kissing the Frog today

My friend Kathy at Kissing the Frog has been kind enough to have me over to her place online today and share a piece I wrote about my dear friend Leonard as part of her Grief Stories series.

For several years when I lived in Boston, I visited an elderly man each week. I tell about our friendship here in Sundays with Leonard.

If you don't know already know Kathy and Kissing the Frog, please go visit her blog and read her heartbreaking story about the loss of her son in Joey's Story, as well as her post Pictures Can Lie.

Thank you Kathy, for sharing my story.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's Holiday Time, Yo.

Since Hanukkah came early this year, I feel like "The Holidays" have passed already, while of course for most people the main event of Christmas is still more than a week away. For those of you who still have holiday shopping to do, here are a few more picks for gifts that were big hits at our house:

Winx Deluxe Fashion Dolls ($21.99) from Nickelodeon. My daughters (ages 8 and 10) don't watch the show (there is a show, right?), but they lovd the doll's wings and that they were removable, as well as the fact that the doll has lots of points of articulation and can be easily posed in lots of different ways. Also, the glitter was a big plus, too.

My son, age 4, is a huge fan of the lean, green fighting machines, so he loves this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Lunch Box Puzzle ($8.00). He really likes doing the puzzle and then putting the pieces back in the tin, and I don't think you need me to tell you how much a  toy a kid will clean-up on his own is a win-win-win-win-win.

Also getting the rave reviews at our house is this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle LEGO Set, Stealth Shell in Pursuit ($24.99). My four-year-old son plays with it the most, but his tween-age sisters were more than happy to put it together for him.

And if you have kids who are Rainbow Loom fanatics, they'll love this brand-new product, The Loom Boom ($9.99). Invented by a five-year-old and brought to market by his mom, this cool catch-all is a great place to store and display finished bracelets and the base makes a perfect home for all those loose looms, too.

So what toys are the biggest hits at your house?

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I did receive the Winx Doll and the Ninja Turtle products for review purposes from Nickelodeon.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gift Ideas (and More Gift Ideas) for Kids

One of the lucky perks of being a writer for parenting publications is I get to review toys, all year round and even more so in the holiday shopping frenzy that leads up to Christmas. I go to the annual Toy Fair in New York City and to smaller events throughout the year and find out both what's hot from the big players and what's cool from the smaller specialty companies.

So... if you're looking for gift ideas for kids this holiday season, here are my picks for the very best toys:

New Jersey Family Magazine Holiday Gift Guide - this gift guide has gifts in categories from WOW! Factor to Making a Difference. You'll find something for every kind of kid and occasion.

10 Best Gift for Kids this Holiday Season - I'm sharing my own favorite picks on for kids toys and gifts, most which have been personally tested (and approved) by my three kids.

I also have eight gift guides I wrote here, covering everything from the Best Wooden Toys to toys with the words a parent most likes to see: No Assembly Required.

And if you've already moved on to the gift wrapping portion of your holiday season, here are my tips for wrapping gifts without tape, and even without wrapping paper.

Note: The Happy Holidays blocks pictured top left are from Uncle Goose, these handcrafted wood blocks made in the USA are one of my favorites and come in lots of fabulous designs, including the Hebrew alphabet and the newly issued Stack and Scare.

Do you have a favorite kids toy? Share in the comments! And more importantly, if there are any to avoid let me know!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December Finding the Funny - Share Your Funniest Post Here!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Two Crazy Good Cyber Monday Deals

I don't care what deals I miss on Black Friday - and even less so about any on grey Thursday - because no deal is worth big crowds and mall traffic.

But Cyber Monday deals I can get from the comfort of my home or office? Yes, I'll take those.

Here are two Cyber Monday good deals I've seen this morning on Amazon, I'll add more later today if I find any as good as these.

HALF OFF Barbie 3-Story Dream Townhouse on Amazon

This house is sooo expensive (almost $200) that 50% really matters. At a little under $100 I don't even think it's that bad a price since you get the house and all the furnishings (no dolls, though).

My kids got this from their Aunt and Uncle for Hanukkah (who sadly I'm sure paid full price) and they love it. It took a while to put together, but wasn't *that* bad. There are lots of sounds, an elevator and other cool features, and at $92.49 a lot of play value.

JOOLA Inside Table Tennis Table on Amazon

This is on my kids wish list, so I've been watching the price. While it was lower last week when it was a featured deal, it's currently 44% off for a savings of more than $250 off the original price.

So those are the two good deals I've seen this Cyber Monday morning, now tell me what good deals you've seen.

This post is totally not sponsored, I just wanted to pass on these good deals. There are Amazon affiliate links embedded above which I'm hoping will fund a trip to Tahiti, or even just Starbucks.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving and Suffrage: because isn't Thanksgiving the perfect time to talk about history?

A couple years back I posted one of my most favorite suffragette postcards in celebration of Thanksgiving.

It turns out to be actually an anti-suffrage postcard, but still, I dig it.

In case my photograph makes it difficult to read the text is: "This is not a suffragette lecture, but a kind Greeting."

The postcard is a response to a historical event in which "Chicago-area women’s rights advocates {were} pushing back the time they served Thanksgiving dinner in order to go see the British suffragist Emiline* Pankhurst," who was giving a lecture.

So see everyone, arguing over the sanctity of Thanksgiving Day - whether it is to go see a famous suffragette or to shop for cheap electronics - is as American as the Thanksgiving holiday itself.

As someone who every year tries to share with her family a brief but important speech about our unsung pilgrim sisters, I'd like to think I would have my family wait a little on dinner in the name of suffrage - a sentiment I don't share for those in pursuit of cheap electronics.

What do you think about listening to lectures on Thanksgiving Day? And what about shopping?

However you spend it, and whatever time you serve your dinner, Happy Thanksgiving!

PS And I almost forgot, did you know that the author of the famous Thanksgiving poem Through the Wood was also a suffragist? Could Thanksgiving get any more feminist?!

It's Thanksgivukah!

Full cooking preparations are ON at the Random Handprints household as I prepare both Hanukkah dinner for tonight and a Thanksgivukah meal for tomorrow.

Luckily, my littlest decided he didn't feel well enough (read: feel like going) to school this morning, so I have an extra helper at home. Yay!

Even more luckily, my mom is in charge of dessert so that's one thing I can check off the to do list.

 Unluckily, those cookies make me feel a little bit of pressure to have the dinner live up to the dessert.
I'm also done with all my Thanksgivukkah and Hanukkah gift wrapping. If you're looking for some inspiration I'm sharing at my ideas for 5 Fun Ways to Wrap and Give Hanukkah Gifts.
Now, off to make my brisket stuffed turkey, challah stuffing, cranberry filled doughnuts, and pumpkin and gefilite fish appetizer!*
* Note: If you are coming to my house, don't be surprised, I'm not actually making any of that - I just like the idea of making all of that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Great Giveaway to Neon Fireflies - A Fun New Etsy Shop!

neon fireflies

I don't know about you, but you couldn't pay me to go anywhere near the mall this week. I don't do Black Friday sales, but I do happily shop from the comfort of my home computer.

I'm a huge fan of Etsy, and my blogging friend Stephanie from Binkies & Briefcases recently told me about a fabulous new Etsy shop Neon Fireflies, run by her friend Heather.

alanna bova photography
We're so excited to share her talent with you today!  Heather is a mom of two little ones. She loves her kiddos and she loves to crochet, so she combined her loves into a new store that sells fabulous, fashion forward crocheted pieces for babies AND their mommas. 

Neon Fireflies sells a bunch of awesome hand made items that Heather crochets herself. I love that they all feel so fresh and trendy, because sometimes crocheted items can feel a little old-fashioned. That is not the case with Neon Fireflies. Let's check out some of the things in the shop!

Scarves and boot cuffs for mommas: neon fireflies blue scarf neon fireflies pink scarf   neon fireflies yellow scarf neon fireflies boot cuffs

And kid-sized hats, leg warmers, shoes, and even toys neon fireflies boys hat neon fireflies gils hat neon fireflies leg warmers 
I'm teaming up with a few of my favorite fellow bloggers and giving away a mini shopping spree in honor of avoiding the mall on Black Friday!

Enter using the Rafflecopter below and one winner will receive any one item of their choice from Neon Fireflies. This giveaway is for US residents only, ages 18 and up. One winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond. In the event that a winner does not respond, another winner will be selected. Neon Fireflies is responsible for prize shipment. And in case you were wondering, this is not a sponsored post.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't wait to find out if you win? Go shopping now at Neon Fireflies and save $6 on any purchase of $30 or more (excluding shipping) through 11/28/13. Use coupon code THANKS6 at checkout.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Crafts and an itty-bitty plug for a great Suffragist

As regular readers know, the Random Handprints household is full of Thanksgivukkah cheer this holiday season, as shown in many ways including the creation of roughly 2,063 handprint menurkeys.

However, if your household is celebrating "just" Thanksgiving this year, don't worry - I have craft ideas for that, too!

Here are two easy and fun crafts that kids will love!

The Tee Pee Centerpiece:

and the Handprint Turkey Place Card:

Head over to New Jersey Family for the full directions for both at Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts.

And also, if your looking for a great Thanksgiving book to read with the kids, I love this new edition of the classic poem Over the River and Through the Wood: The New England Boy's Song About Thanksgiving Day.

In addition to the poem, which despite being from old-timey times my kids ages 4-9 all loved, there are some historical notes at the end which made me love it all the more once I heard the backstory.

To learn more about the author Lydia Maria Child, click here - and then tell me that's not a person we should be discussing over the Thanksgiving meal!

And for a review of Over the River and Through the Wood as well as two other wonderful books for the holidays, check out 3 Great Holiday Books at New Jersey Family.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two Easy Ways to Make a Thankgivukkah Menurkey

My kids and I have been amusing ourselves to no end decorating for our Thanksgivukkah celebration next Thursday. Turkeys spinning dreidels, menorahs made out of pilgrim hats, we could go on and on - speaking of which, we have totally got to put a pilgrim hat on a dreidel.

We've also made endless menurkeys - those are turkey menorahs for those of you living under a (Plymouth) rock.

I present:

Menurkey #1: Styled by my 9-year-old. All you need to make this yourself is markers and the ability to trace your own hands.

Menurkey #2: Styled by my 8-year-old. This menurkey is currently on Barista Kids, so head over for the full directions.

If you have a menurkey craft, please leave a link in the comments!

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Instructions for my husband: Thanksgivukkah not only is real, it real-ly is once-in-a-lifetime

I did not make up Thanksgivukkah, which is the holiday that results from Thanksgiving Day and the first day of Hanukkah falling on the exact same day this year. Yes, you heard that right.... THE EXACT SAME DAY.

What are the chances? Well, apparently almost none. That's why it's never really happened before (maybe once, but there's some uncertainty of what day Thanksgiving was back in the Eighteen-hundred-and-something year that the overlap might have occurred in) and is really, never really going to happen again. EVER.

Again, let me repeat, I am not making this up, it is well documented on everything from Thanksgivukkah websites to Thanksgivukkah merchandise.

I also did not make up the fact that this Thanksgivukah is not happening again for 70,000-plus years. A bunch of nice Jewish nerds guys have done the math, and you know it's right because you don't need me to tell you that Jews are good with numbers.

Or do the math calculations yourself, Mr. Regional Math Team Champion 1986 (and '87). You'll see for your doubting self.

It is true that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will overlap again, when the first night of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving Day in... 2070. And while I'd like to think that we will both be there to share pumpkin flavored latkes and jelly doughnuts shaped like turkeys, I'm just not sure it's a done deal.

So let's treat this Thanksgivukkah as the once-in-a-lifetime event for which it is, for real, really. If the unique chance to have a pairing of latkes and stuffing isn't a reason to celebrate, I don't know what is.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

PS If there are other doubters, don't believe me just read this. Or this.

This is my thirty-fifth instruction in my ongoing series Instructions for my Husband.

Follow along on Facebook on the Instructions to my Husband page where something stupid funny is always going on there.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Best Hanukkah Books for Kids

Oh how I wish there some Thanksgivukah books for kids! But alas, there are not. So regular ol Hanukkah books will have to do. Here are four of our favorite kids books for Hanukkah.

Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah (Sammy Spider's First Books)
Written by Sylvia A. Rouss and illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn

My kids love all the Sammy Spider books (because what kids don't love cute, cuddly spiders?), and the Hanukkah story is no exception. The over-sized book is full of fun illustrations and a lovely retelling of the traditional Hanukkah story. Great for most ages, but especially for preschoolers. Paperback; $7.95.

Chanukah Lights
By Robert Sabuda and Michael J. Rosen
My seven-year-old spends hours exploring the amazingly intricate pop-up displays found in this gorgeous book, which retells the story of Chanukah in eight scenes, all which include a festive menorah. Ages five 
and up; $34.99.

<a href="">Chanukah Lights</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
My nine-year-old has been captivated by this book since I started reading it to her a few years ago, and now, she can read it herself. This Caldecott Honor winning tale will engage kids as they follow Hershel and his quest to banish the Helmsbergville's goblins, who have prevented the townspeople from celebrating Hanukkah. Possibly scary for younger kids, so best to share with those ages six and over. Paperback $7.95; hardcover $17.95.

The Golden Dreydl
Written by Ellen Kushner and illustrated by Ilene Winn-Lederer
Based (loosely) on the Nutcracker, this mystical story tells what happens when Sara receives a magical dreydl from her Aunt Miriam.This story is seeped in fantasy and has wonderfully whimsical imagery, like when they travel to the world of magic via the family’s broken television. If only. Recommended for ages 8-12 but it could be read aloud to younger children as well. Kindle $5.95, paperback $7.95, and hardcover $15.95.

Next up in our Hanukkah celebrations: setting-up the spinning light-up dreidel.

Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgivukah!

Disclosure: I received Hanukkah Lights and The Golden Dreydl to review, the others are from our personal book collection. I also have amazon affiliate codes within the links to purchase the books above, although I'm a big fan of buying from my (or your) local book store.

This post was first published last year, but good Hanukkah children's books are timeless.

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