St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum

St. Aug Light House

We recently visited the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum in Florida. The original lighthouse, built in 1824, was lost to a storm, but the new tower was completed in 1874, and a brick light keeper’s house was added to the site two years later.
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The St. Augustine Lighthouse rises 165 feet above sea level and offers a fabulous view from the top. We did manage to walk up all 219 steps (though not without a few rests along the way)!
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“We have a light upon our house, and it gives hope to all who sail upon the stormy seas. Do ya know what it means to have a light burning atop your home? It is safety, a place of refuge, seen by all as a signal that ye stand for something greater than this world, greater than us all.”
― James Michael Pratt, The Lighthouse Keeper
Have you visited any historic lighthouses?
Do you have a favorite lighthouse?

Winter Sports: Scenes from Aspen

My sister and her new husband have been on their honeymoon in Aspen, so I thought I would share some of their fabulous photos.
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They love skiing, snowboarding, taking photos of the gorgeous scenery, and visiting all the great restaurants in town!
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I hope winter is treating YOU well!
Have you been to Aspen? Do you have a favorite place to go skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or snowshoeing?

Tastykake® Kandy Bar Kakes

Making “S’mores” is a quintessential summer activity. We always bring graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars when we go camping so we can melt up some gooey treats around the campfire. The S’mores experience is hard to replicate, but the flavors can be captured in other goodies. I just tried S’mores Kandy Bar Kakes from the Tastykake® company.
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There is a graham-flavored cake and a marshmallow-flavored layer of frosting that is enrobed in a chocolate coating. It’s like S’mores-on-the go (no campsite required)!
This is what the inside looks like:
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The chocolate coating is super. I would have preferred a thicker marshmallow layer (frosting, after all, is my favorite food); however, overall, it was a delicious dessert.
I would recommend cutting the bar into 2 or 3 pieces to serve kids. I would also suggest freezing it and eating it right out of the freezer (sort of like an ice cream bar).
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Kandy Bar Kakes are available in S’mores, Peppermint, and Peanut Butter flavors.
Learn more at the Tastykake® website:
http://www.tastykake.com/
The Tastykake® Kandy Bar Kakes are sold at grocery and convenience stores across America, in boxes or individually.

Which flavor would you like to try?
What’s YOUR favorite summer treat?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary sample for testing and review purposes.
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Coincidentally (while on the subject of S’mores), Dairy Queen just announced that S’mores Blizzard® Treat is its Blizzard® of the Month and will be available all summer long at DQ®!

Playing Games for a Good Cause

There is a fun new site–GoodGames.org–that lets users earn donations for worthwhile causes simply by playing online games.
Users simply go to www.goodgames.org and choose from a list of 109,000 nonprofits and schools (or add their own); then earn donations for their favorite cause when they play top quality online games.
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Goodgames features a range of great online games, including Mahjongg Dimensions, Klondike Solitaire, Trizzle and more. Playing any of them will help earn donations.
With over 113 million Americans playing 50 million hours of casual online games a DAY, Goodgames could raise over $ 1 billion a year for charitable causes!
Goodsearch, the parent company of Goodgames, has already donated nearly $10 million to causes nationwide through their supporters’ simple daily actions–such as web searching, shopping online, dining out, and taking surveys.

So, let’s all play some games!!
Which causes will YOU choose?

Melissa & Doug Easter Shop and Giveaway

Melissa & Doug’s Easter Shop is Open!
You know all kids would love an Easter basket filled with bunny rabbits, lambs, classic toys, and other sweet surprises!
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Pick out your favorite Easter toys here:
http://www.melissaanddoug.com/top-easter-toys-for-kids?utm_source=Shopatron+Email+Marketing&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Top+Easter+Toys+-+Easter+Shop&utm_content=osullivanrobin22%40gmail.com&utm_campaign=030613+Blogger+Email+-+Easter+Shop+is+Open

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Even better?
Melissa & Doug is providing a lucky winner from their community with $200 to spend toward toys in the Easter Shop!
It’s easy to enter at this link:
http://ymlp.com/xgmmwqyqgmgqh

What’s YOUR favorite Easter basket surprise??

Global Green USA Green School Makeover Competition Presented by Pureology

Every child deserves a learning environment that’s safe, healthy, and optimal for learning. Unfortunately, many schools across the country are subjecting children to unhealthy classrooms with poor lighting, inefficient energy usage, or harmful toxins. When a school goes green, children AND the environment benefit!

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Sustainability is important to Pureology. To improve student performance and reduce the carbon footprint of schools, Pureology is offering a Green School Makeover to one Grand Prize Winner. You could win this for your local school when you enter the contest.
You can nominate a school here:
http://www.pureology.com/GreenSchools

And learn more about Pureology at their website:
http://bit.ly/VzWAQh

I put in a submission for our local elementary school, because I want optimal health for our kids and our land. The funds could be used for water conservation, waste reduction, energy efficient upgrades, and more.
Do you have ideas for how your local school can go green?

Keep it Together with the LunchBlox™ Kit!

The kind people at Rubbermaid sent me a new LunchBlox™ Sandwich Kit.
It’s a set of BPA-free containers that snap together, so you can efficiently use the space in your lunch box or bag.
There is a Blue Ice™ pack to keep everything chilled.
It’s convenient and much more organized than tossing everything in my bag (as I used to do).

Some of my favorite healthy foods to pack in the LunchBlox™ Kit are
–Jicama, carrot, and celery sticks
–Spinach/hummus wraps
–Fresh blueberries
–Whole grain crackers
–Greek yogurt dip with basil

I would love to get one for each of my family members!
You can find all the details at
http://www.rubbermaid.com/Category/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?Prod_ID=RP092020

Happy lunching!

Quaker Soft Baked Oatmeal Cookies

My grandma always made oatmeal cookies when we went to visit her in Connecticut.
The kitchen would smell heavenly when we stormed in to give her big hugs.
I’ve never been able to replicate the deliciousness of her warm cookies—and now, as a mom but not yet a grandmom, I don’t seem to have time to bake my own cookies as often as I would like.
I was excited to try Quaker Soft Baked Oatmeal Cookies!


I won’t try to convince you that they are as fantastic as my grandma’s cookies.
You can tell they are store-bought, not homemade…but that’s like comparing apples and oranges. As far as packaged cookies go, they passed my tests.
I loved the texture; the kids loved the taste.
I appreciated fact that they are made with Whole Grain Quaker Oats; they are low in fat (6 g per serving); and they are a good source of fiber.
The kids liked the “plumpy” raisins.

I had no trouble devouring an entire cookie, but a single package is actually rather large for a child.
So, you might want to split one between two children.
Aside from that, I was pleased with the product and look forward to trying the other flavors—Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Almond, Cranberry & Yogurt, and Banana Nut.

You can find Quaker Soft Baked Oatmeal Cookies at most major retailers. Suggested retail price: $2.69 for a box of 6 cookies.

When I’m a grandma myself maybe I’ll have more time to bake big soft cookies, but for now I’ll lean on Quaker for a bit of assistance!

(disclosure: a complimentary Quaker cookie sample was provided to me by Influenster for testing and review purposes for the Mom VoxBox).

Dino Lingo ~ Language Learning for Kids

My mother grew up in Holland, and when I was young (in the U.S.), my family would often visit her relatives there. I was able to learn to speak a bit of Dutch by being around family members in Holland each year. I have not been back in eons and would love to teach my children to speak Dutch so we could all visit together someday.

I purchased the Dutch edition of Dino Lingo, because there is no way I could teach them myself–I need a refresher course too!

According to Dino Lingo:

Children can quickly learn and speak Dutch, thanks to the award-winning lessons by Dino Lingo Kids
Dino Lingo Dutch for Kids is an award-winning language teaching program pedagogically designed for small children.
This program consists of 5 DVDs, 100 flash cards, posters and the parents guide.
After watching the DVDs several times and playing with the flash cards, most children can easily name everyday objects and understand basic phrases in Dutch.
Dino Lingo Dutch for Kids is suitable for all children between the ages of 2 to 7 years old.

So far my children (ages 3 and 6) have watched the first two videos:
DVD 1 – Let’s Count : Numbers and colors / 35 min.
DVD 2 – Let’s Eat : Food, fruit and vegetables / 35 min.

and they were very receptive to the dvds.
We hung up the fun posters in their bedrooms.
We also started using the flash cards that teach the most common one hundred words in Dutch.
I am learning even more than the kids are!!
We are planning to have lessons 3x/week during July and August.
The set is definitely expensive, but it’s high-quality; it’s cheaper than a private tutor; and I’m hoping it will work!

Learn more at www.dinolingo.com

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Influenster provided some of its members with complimentary Dino Lingo products; I did not receive one from them but was inspired to learn more about Dino Lingo, because other Influensters were testing the products.

History for Kids: A Patriotic Page-Turner

“Once there were four lads…
John [Hancock],
Paul [Revere],
George [Washington],
and Ben [Franklin].

Oh yes, there was also Tom [Jefferson], but he was annoyingly independent and hardly ever around.

These lads were always getting into trouble for one reason or another. In other words, they took a few…liberties. And to be honest, they were not always appreciated.
This is the story of five little lads before they became five really big Founding Fathers.”

Looking for an entertaining book with a bit of history for children? Check out John, Paul, George & Ben .
Written by Lane Smith, it’s meant for ages 3 and up and has fantastic illustrations.
Happy flag-waving!