Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday Gift Ideas

With the gift season just around the corner, I wanted to share a few sites that I have used for gifts. I try to be unique in my gift giving. I try to think about the individual or couple that I am purchasing for. Last year the big drive for me was gifts that gave back. This year with the economy being what it is I thought I would find gifts that I could afford and that people in my life need. Everyone needs a good meal. There are times in our lives that we just don't want to cook or we just need some RR from our lives. So I have decided to purchase dinner and movie tickets for all everyone on my gift list. Sorry, if you are reading this and you are on my gift list there will be no surprise for you when you open your gift bag.

Like everyone I am on a tight budget. So to purchase gift cards for local restaurants I turned to . It is like buying a savings bond. You pay a fraction of the cost of what the cost it. For example, for a $25 gift certificate, I paid $10. You don't have the chain restaurants on this site. It is the Main Street restaurants that might be owned by a neighbor or friend. Giving back to your community is important. With the gift certificates being a fraction of the cost, I can purchase more for my money. Instead of getting one restaurant for $50, I can now send my friends and family out 5 times. Yes, there are some strings attached. Some restaurants require a minimum so when you purchase watch the little notes.

Discount movie tickets are the best. This is something that takes some practice. I use either the entertainment book or my credit union they have the best deals. You purchase one ticket and you get a ticket for free. The tickets are typically good for all movies times.

There is a risk to the gifts, I have purchased so many businesses have are going out of business. You need to make sure you have a well established business and that they are not going anywhere. The risk is there and you need to make sure it is a small a risk as possible.

Worse comes to worse, I spent ½ the amount I would have on holiday gifts that get no use like the Handheld game, the video camera they couldn't live without or the clothing that was so in when they picked it out but when they opened it on Christmas morning it was so yesterday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Take the Time to say THANK YOU - it's FREE

You don't have to agree with the politics of the war. However, everyone should thank a solider for what they do. They are doing that many of us have made the choice not to do. These men and women are defending our freedoms. Without the military we would not have the right to openly agree or disagree about the things we don't like. So take a moment and say Thank you. Show the soldiers that are away from their familiar for the holidays that we appreciate them as humans. We of us have jobs that sometimes no one appreciates but in the end we have a pay off that makes it well worth the effort. Take the 1-2 minutes and just send a note of thank you. The card you write today may be the difference in that soldiers day, week or month.

Something cool that Xerox is doing...
If you go to this web site, you can pick out a thank you card that is designed by children of all ages, select a pre-written message or write your own message and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send just one!!!
This is a great site. Please send a card.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas Wish List

I really do try to keep going with the blog but life seems to keep getting in the way. So with Christmas fast approaching I thought it would be nice to see to suggest some toys. The toys are not specifically for children with special needs but are user friendly.

Wii Fit: If you can get your hands on the Wii Fit it is the toy for the whole family. Even if you exercise everyday this is a game that makes it a little more fun. The Wii fit goes along with the wii gaming system. It is a way to keep everyone active in a way that most are not. For the soccer game you have to stand on the Wii Fit unit and move left right forward back head the ball. How about Yoga, nothing like have your own personal yoga instructor. The Wii Fit system keeps track of your BMI. My wii character has been turned into a weeble wobble and she does fall down.

Tag System – LeapFrog – Yeah a toy that reinforces early literacy. The Tag System has a small infrared camera at the tip of the Tag reader which is a large pen. The Tag system can read letters, words and sentences. You have to use a huge selection of specialized program books that go with the Tag system. It does not work on books that do not have the specialized dot. This is a toy that allows struggling readers take control over their own learning. I remember trying to learn to read, sounding out the words, skipping words and trying to get content then going back to the word. This tool allows you to hear the word as many times as you need to have it read to you. It makes the words come alive for early learners and older learners.
Funny Phrases Game: Works with the Tag System. 250,000 silly sentences. What better way to learn language and literacy but by creating silly sentences. Touch the words with your Tag™ Reader and hear them aloud!

Tag Super Speller Team up with Ozzie and Mack to play interactive games and build more than 300 words! Additional learning activities include finding letter names and sounds and how to spell three- and four-letter words.

Poingo Reading System: If you are a fan of LeapFrom Tag system you will also enjoy the Poingo system. Unlike the Tag system the Poingo allows you to touch words and pictures that are in specialized Poingo books. The Poingo system has 6 different books at this time. You can hear sounds as well as music. The pen is a little easier to hold and the buttons are easier to work for a young child. I also like the built in picture walk. Here is a online demo: The sound is not as good as the tag system. But the features that are not in the Tag is nice in the Poingo.
Elmo Live – if you haven't had enough of Elmo here is another one. Elmo Live actually speaks through his mouth. It is just like the Teddy Rumpkins from the early 80's. The biggest difference is that the head moves back and forth as he speaks, his arms wave, sits and stands and even crosses his legs while telling stories and jokes. Elmo sings songs and plays games. This Elmo is all the past Elmo's rolled into one. Great toy for literacy and social interaction. What is better than a friend sharing jokes with you that you can share with another? Cost : $60.00 plus taxes

Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Waterproof Digital Camera – this is the camera I have been waiting for. Little kids need a camera that can be go the places they go purposely and accidently. The camera can hold roughly 170 high quality photos. The photos are stored on flash memory no SD slot. The camera is recognized by the computer as a mass media unit. No software installation is needed. My 4 year old niece loves her camera. She was able to take pictures, view the pictures, delete the pictures and even print her pictures. Cost: $50.00

Fisher-Price Disco Dancin Wubbzy - Disco is back baby! This is a character from a TV show for children. But really who can turn away that does cartwheels, the worm (not really Disco), head stand and the wiggle. So ok – Disco really isn't the right name for this toy. It is more of a 80's break dancing toy. But hands down kids love playing with this toy. It does require batteries.

Wild Planet Hyper Dash
a toy to keep your children active and following directions. There are four different levels that allow improvement players skills. Level one uses colors. The device calls out a color and player dashes toward the target. Level two uses colors and numbers. The third level uses commands like strike, double strike, and reverse. The fourth level is the hardest level. The players have to solve math problems. There are other special commends that "team" playing. This is a race against the clock including activities as a memory game. This is a light touch toy. The toy has RFID technology which means Radio frequency. Rough play over a period of time will cause the toy to break.

UNO Flash the device calls the directions and colors. You have to pay attention when the device flashes red in front of you it is your turn. But if you don't pay attention your turn is up and you lose. All the rules are changed and the device takes care of them for you. If you like UNO this is a great game to have for the family game night.