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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Value of Museum Memberships

For Christmas we gave the family a membership to the Natural History Museum, hubby and I felt that not only would this gift have value for the entire year, but that it would open their minds and give them some amazing things to view and see and do.  When we mentioned this to our friends and family, a few individuals actually felt that we "cheated" our children out of a gift because "no child wants to go to a museum and learn when they could be playing and having fun". 

I would first like to clarify that just because museums are for learning, does not mean they are not also fun.  Second, our children were elated to get the museum membership because they truly love exploring all the wonderful exhibits that are offered and learning about some amazing things!  Of course as a homeschooler I find museums to be wonderful teaching resources, and the kids really do enjoy them, especially the dinosaur bones and gold panning exhibits at our local museum. 

Now all that is well and good, but what fun is a museum really you ask?  Well, two days after Christmas, our museum held a special members only event in the evening after usual museum hours.  Our Museum welcomed Astronaut Joe Acaba to come and speak about his recent mission to the International Space Station.  He offered a very nice, yet brief presentation, and then opened up the field for questions.  He answered questions from children and adults alike and carefully chose his answers based on the age of the individual giving the question. 

If a child asked "how fast does the space station move?"  He answered "really, really fast," and then proceeded to give an example that the child would understand.  If an adult asked the same question then his answer was given in miles per hour and length of time to orbit the earth.  By the way the space station makes it's way around the Earth every 90 minutes, which means the sun rises and sets every 45 minutes on the space station.  How's that for confusing? 

After his presentation and Q&A session he did not immediately run off and disappear, nope, he stuck around and signed autographs for everyone in attendance!  Since only myself and my two older boys attended (I wasn't sure a 3 year old would sit nicely for the presentation), I asked him if he would kindly sign one for my little guy and he most happily obliged.  In addition to autographs he was also kind enough to pose for photos with everyone that was interested!  He was so kind to the children, and so willing to be part of whatever was asked of him that evening, he didn't have a "look how special I am for what I've done" attitude, but rather a "I'm a lucky guy to be doing something I love and I want to share that with you" attitude.  He was real, down to earth (har, har), and pleasant. 

She snapped the picture before B had a chance to fully get his smile together, 
but he really was happy to be there!

This was a rare opportunity for my big boys, and without our membership it would not have been possible!  They both loved listening to the presentation and learning about space travel, but even more they loved having the chance to post for a photo with a real astronaut, and get an autograph.  I intend to take their photo from that night, as well as the autographed photo and frame them nicely for a special reminder of this night when they were just kids, that was all made possible by a museum membership. 

Birbitt thinks making memories with my children is the best thing ever, and museums really are a valuable thing!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Books, Books, Books, and more Books.

As a homeschooling family there are never enough books, at least that's what I keep telling my husband!  This year I had the opportunity to get some amazing Scholastic Books, for just the cost of my time and I jumped on that!  I had so much fun being surrounded by a warehouse full of books, and helping customers find just the right book, and shelving thousands of books and in return I left the warehouse at the end of my scheduled hours with 6 large case boxes filled with books! 

According to Library Thing I got 226 books, but in reality I got so much more since we donated a bunch, gave a bunch away to some friends, and then there were some that I simply didn't add since they weren't books for reading!  However, those 226 books that I got were really so much fun, and the boys are all excited to get into reading them! 

Some of S's favorite books were: Geronimo Stiltion Wild Wild West, Heroes and Villains of the Bible, Lego Ninjago Character Encyclopedia, Star Wars Folded Flyers, and Geronimo Stiltion Creepells Von Cacklefur Return of the Vampire. 

Some of B's favorite books were: How Rocket Learned to Read, Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Before Dark 20th Anniversary Edition in color with 12 extra pages of content, Lego Harry Potter Characters of the Magical World, Lego Ninjago Character Encyclopedia, Scholastic Discover More Animal Babies, Moody Monsters, and Geronimo Stilton The Dragon Prophecy ( Book 4 in the Kindom of Fantasy series).

Some of L's favorite books were: Press Here, Ten Little Caterpillars, Llama Llama Holiday Drama, Little One We Knew You'd Come, Dinosaur Bites, and The Littlest Elf. 

As you can see their favorites are varied, and they have lots to choose from.  If you'd like to see a list of the books I brought home, you can check out my library thing here just click the Bookfair 2012 Unshelved list and you'll see all the books I got for my time!

Their next large sale should take place in May and if you've never been I highly suggest you go this time around if there's a warehouse near you!

Birbitt Thinks books are awesome, and there's always something new to read in our home!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Newman's Own Organic Pet Food Review

Since the rest of our family is striving to eat healthy and organic food, I thought our pets should also be eating healthy, organic food.  So I began the quest to find a high quality, healthy, and organic food that my picky cats, and growing puppy and kitten would love and that came at a reasonable price.  I searched high and I searched low, I scoured the shelves of our local pet stores, googled organic pet food, and spent hours reading labels and looking for Organic food for my pets!

I found several brands of organic dog food, but only one was truly affordable, so I got the chance to try out Newman's Own Organic  Cat and Dog food, and boy did my picky pets eat it up! Newman's Own Organics was kind enough to send us a cat and a dog pack for review! 

First the Dog, her pack contained a bag of dry kibble, 2 large cans of dog food, 2 small cans of dog food, a bag of peanut butter crunchy treats and a bag of soft chicken stick treats.  The first thing Isha tried was the chicken sticks, and she loved them!  Now normally Isha is not a fan of anything peanut butter dog treats, but these ones she was thrilled to eat!  When I go near the bag she wags her tail and runs over excitedly!  Canned food is reserved for occasional treats here in the Birbitt Thinks house, so she knew it was something special when I opened that up!  She was not disappointed at all, she scarfed it up as fast as I put it down.  I mixed the canned food with the crunchies and gave it to her as an in between meal snack and she gobbled it down!  She even ate the crunchies by themselves, so she likes it, because Isha is not a dog to eat kibble she doesn't like. 

Now the cats, they also liked their foods, but only the kitten was willing to permit photographs.  Once again I mixed the canned food with the dry kibble and offered it to them.  Wiley, our kitten, was meowing at my feet the whole time I prepared the bowls and he was eager to dive in as soon as the bowl hit the floor.  Ebony and Keeper, our grown cats, were less excited but once I walked away they did eat the entire dish.  Now Wiley and Keeper both love the dry kibble alone, but Ebony is a bit more picky, I have to mix in a bit of her usual food and she'll eat the Newman's Own Organics along with it, I'm working to reduce the amount of her usual food in her bowl.

All in all I have to say it was a hit here!  Now I have a food I can feel good about giving to my pets!  I have completely transitioned Wiley and Keeper to the Newman's Own Organics cat food, and I'm still working on Ebony.  Isha is in the process of transitioning over completely, but currently gets about 65% of her diet from Newman's Own Organic.  I find the foods to be very reasonably priced, and of a very high quality.  I even noticed significantly less odor and waste in the litter box! 

To find Newman's Own Organics pet food near you simply visit here and enter your zipcode.  You can also find their products online at amazon.com, and petfooddirect.com.  

Birbitt thinks quality pet food is a must, and Newman's Own Organics fits that just fine and dandy!

Birbitt Thinks was provided the above mentioned products for free in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are solely my own and may differ from yours.  Birbitt Thinks assumes no responsibility for your results or opinions. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Attention Homeschoolers - Great deals ahead!

For all you homeschoolers, and educators out there in blog land I just wanted to take a quick minute and let you know about a great deal. For us as homeschoolers we can never seem to have enough books and my boys LOVE to read!

About a year or so ago I was told by a friend about the Scholastic BookFairs Warehouse sales, and I must say it was an instant hit! I can get my children's favorite books for up to 80% off the original retail prices! Even better, is that they use volunteers for the sale! That's right, volunteers like you and me! I take the opportunity to volunteer my time at these sales, and in exchange Scholastic offers the volunteers vouchers for free books!

Sure I know we homeschooling mama's don't have much spare time, but for me I just love being surrounded by so many books and it's a great chance for me to get a little mama time and do something great for my kiddos at the same time!

So go ahead over and check them out see if there's a location in your area and check out the great deals! So tell me what are your favorite books for your children?

Birbitt Thinks loves a great deal, and I hope you do too!

Birbitt Thinks was not provided any compensation for this post, and all opinions are strictly my own.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MailPix - Personalized Photo Gifts review and giveaway

I don't know about you, but I just LOVE a nice Photo Gift!  Not just to give to others, but also for me!  I love looking around my home and seeing memories of my family!

That's where MailPix comes in.  I was given a chance to review several items from their store, and I chose a nice variety that I'd like to tell you about here. 

First I will say that I got Christmas Cards from them, and while I can't seem to get a good pic of them they truly are beautiful!  The photo portion is just beautiful and the colors are spot on!  The greeting card portion is so pretty, and looks exactly like it did on the website.  They have cards for all occasions at reasonable prices!  

I also got photo prints from MailPix as well, and again I don't have pictures of them but they are good quality prints, on Kodak paper, and the colors are just right.  If there was any issue with the photo at all, it was on the part of me the photographer!  I was very pleased with the quality of their prints, and the price is just right for my budget! 

Ok, now for the part you are all waiting for, the photo gifts!  The first gift item that I chose was a calendar for both myself and my Dad.  I chose the transparent 12 month 2013 calendar and selecting my photos couldn't have been easier! The images came out very clearly,  and look on the calendar exactly as they did on the preview, so if something wasn't right it was fully my fault! 

The next gift item I chose for review was the keepsake box with photo tile.  Now this one, the tile is beautiful and looks exactly as my image did, however there is a small gap between the tile and the wooden box.  It's a beautiful gift, but that gap sticks out to me and bugs me a little.   But the inside is very well done and it would be a great gift!

I also chose two beautiful snowflake ornaments.  These ornaments are ceramic, with a round photo in the center of the snowflake, the photos are super cute and well printed onto the ornament.  The ornament itself is not so heavy as to weigh down the tree branches, but it is heavier than a standard ornament.

I also chose several picture magnets for my refrigerator, to hold up all their great artwork, and they are beautiful!  I got the smaller wallet size magnets and the image is the full size of the magnet and it has a glossy finish.  These are just the right size for mailing in a Christmas card to family and friends as a small gift!

Next is a photo puzzle, which I chose as a Christmas Gift for my children to assemble together.  The puzzle comes in a tin, with puzzle pieces around the side and the top is the image on the puzzle.  I have seen photo puzzles before and been disappointed with the quality of the puzzle pieces or the image printed on the puzzle.  I did not assemble this puzzle, however the pieces are more durable than I've seen in the past, and they are slightly glossy, and it appears as though the image is going to be nice and clear on the puzzle.

The last item is probably my favorite item of all, a photo blanket!  This item is just beautiful!  The image came out very clearly, it does not have that strange pixelated look that happens sometimes when you blow up an image too far, the colors are natural and look just like the original picture, and the image covers the whole blanket!  I was expecting a blanket with a white border, not sure why but I was, and when this arrived I was so much more pleased that I thought I would be!  The Fleece blanket is a very thin blanket, which for me living in the desert is perfect, so do keep that in mind if you are giving it as a gift.  My favorite part of this blanket is being able to sit on the sofa after the boys have gone to bed and still be able to snuggle with them, even if it is just their picture! 

The ordering process was very easy, I simply created an album and uploaded all my imaged to that one album, then when I was ready to order an item I simply click on the image I want, drag it over to the work space, set it how I want it to appear, and add it to my cart!  Easy as Pie!  Once my order was complete all I did was check out and wait, and the items appeared very quickly in my mailbox!  I think from the time I ordered to the time the last package arrived was exactly one week, not bad at all during the Christmas Rush! Overall I say great job MailPix for delivering great quality items at affordable prices, and making the process easy to accomplish! 

Birbitt Thinks if you are looking for a great photo gift at an affordable price, with a simple ordering process...then MailPix is the place for you!  And just to prove it to you MailPix is giving one lucky reader the opportunity to try it out for themselves!  One lucky Birbitt Thinks fan will get their choice of photo gift item from MailPix!  All you have to do is enter below, and sit back and wait to see if you've won!

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Birbitt Thinks was provided products in exchange for this review, however I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are strictly my own!  MailPix and NOT Birbitt Thinks is responsible for fulfillment of the prize, and Birbitt Thinks is not responsible in the event your opinions are different from my own. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

SavvyK Guest Review - Goat Milk Stuff

Everyone please welcome back SavvyK!  She's bringing us her review of an awesome product, that we here at Birbitt Thinks also enjoy! 

Goat Milk Stuff Soap Review!

I had the wonderful chance to share with my savvy readers this amazing experiance using Goat Milk Stuff soap, lip balm and lotion stick! Personally, I love goat milk soap! It makes your body feel amazingly nurished and does not leave that dried out feeling that other soaps do!
Goat Milk Stuff is a company that specializes in goat milk bath and body products. Goat milk soap is specially made to help nurish your skin better than soap made from water. "Many people are still washing their skin with soap made with water. Switching to soap made with goat milk can truly benefit your skin’s health. Goat milk soap is wonderful for people with dry or sensitive skin, or conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It is also perfect for healthy skin that wants to stay that way. Unprocessed goat milk fresh from the farm contains many benefits such as alpha hydroxy acids, vitamins and minerals.
Goat Milk Stuff has also been featured on so many different news and media outlets! You can go HERE to see the video clips and read many other articles about Goat Milk Stuff and it's benefits.
I had the chance to review four Goat Milk Stuff bar soaps, one lip balm, and one lotion stick.
The Goat Milk Stuff bar soaps were truley amazing. The four frangrances that I chose were Fiji Island, Sandalwood, Luv Spell, and Oatmeal Milk and Honey. I decided to try out Luv Spell because it is a familiar smell to me. The Luv Spell soap smells almost identical to the Luv Spell fragrance by Victoria's Secret, which is a floral and citrus scent. I really loved this soap! It was a nice, gentle and femimine scent that doesn't overpower you! Actually, I was expecting the soap to smell a little stronger and bolder to match the perfume. The light scent was very refreshing and it lasts quite a while after you get out of the shower! I would have to say this one was my favorite out of all four! My next favorite was the Oatmeal Milk and Honey. This soap is not as fragrant as the other three, but it does smell very warm and inviting! It also as a hint of sweetness you can smell from the honey. I really liked this soap and used it when I didn't want an over powering smell. I usually used this soap when I used the Lavendar lotion stick so the soap and lotion smells would not mix together.
Fiji Island also was a big hit with not only me, but my six year old step daughter! She loved the scent of citus and tropical island smells! She even referred to it as "the smell of the beach when we went to florida". This scent is just that, a nice beachy scent. It has a lot of citrus fruits smells like coconut, lime, and lemon verbena. I used this bar usually with my night time baths when I wanted to relax with a little "beach getaway". Now if only I could train my fiance to make me one of those fruity, tropical drinks with the umbrella and wear the cabana boy costume! (haha)
The last soap that I had the chance to review was the Sandalwood soap. My fiance loved this soap and I loved this soap on him! (lol) This soap has a hint of cedarwood that made this soap smell a little masculine, but not enough where you wouldn't be able to wear it as a woman.I love the way Goat Milk Soap described this scent as a James Bond movie. This soap truley captures their description . If I could describe this soap in two words, I would say it is "sexy and mysterious".
The lotion stick I decided to try out was the Lavendar scented lotion stick. The stick itself smells just like a lavendar scented candle. It is a light scent that isn't overpowering. This lotion stick is the perfect size to fit in your purse, car or travel carry ons. I love that it is a solid lotion. A lot of my lotions in the past has squirted or spilled all over the inside of my belongings and it was a total mess. Just be sure not to leave this in your car as it may melt with the heat. I also had the chance to try out the Peppermint lip balm which I where almost every single day! It lasts a long time and the scent is just what it sounds like, peppermint! The lip balms are made with out any harsh chemicals so they moisturize your lips with out any harm!
Overall I give Goat Milk Stuff an A+ for all of the products that I was able to review. These would be perfect gifts or stocking stuffers for the holidays coming up! I even have a few on my Christmas wish list!
Disclosure: SavvyK recieved the products in exchange for an honest review. Regardless, all opinions are her own and may or may not differ from your own. Birbitt Thinks has also tried and loved these products.

A true family Christmas!

If you have children you know their excitement over Christmas, the lights, the decorations, the family, the fun, and the presents.  As a mom I want my boys to know there's more to Christmas than just lights and presents.  I want my boys to know the real reason for Christmas, I want them to keep their eyes focused on Him during this busy season, and to remember their spirit of giving rather than getting. 

We are homeschoolers, and as such we have great flexibility in our school scheduling so I like to fill the month of December with activities and mini lessons that will do exactly that!  I thought there might be others out there that would like these activities as well so I'm going to link you all to some great sites full of awesome inexpensive and free materials, as well as give some ideas we've seen or used over the years.  I hope it will be a blessing to you and your family.

One of my favorite resources for preschoolers is Hubbard's Cupboard, and she has an entire month of Advent activities for you to enjoy, complete with a paper chain so children can remove one link each day to reveal a Bible verse, and activity to complete.

My favorite places for mini lessons, and unit studies is currclick and they have some great resources for children of all ages in their Christmas section!  If you like them on Facebook or sign up for their newsletter you can find out when all the sales and specials are, which will save you money.  Of course all their resources are so inexpensive anyway that even if you miss a sale you'll still find a great deal!

If lapbooks and ebooks are more your style check out Knowledge Box Central for some great Christmas theme projects!  Their downloads and E-Books are mostly $5.00 and $10.00, and you'll find some great stuff over there.  If you prefer you can pay a bit more and get the printed kits that you only need to assemble. 

If inexpensive crafts are your goal well I have got the place for you!  Oriental Trading has some amazingly cute and remarkably simple Christmas Crafts for great prices!  They have crafts, decorations, party supplies, candy, ornaments, costumes and MORE!  We have made lots of Oriental Trading crafts over the years, and this year even Twiggles got in on some of it!  Their crafts really are simple, and they come with all you need to complete them!  The only downfall, if there is one, is that everything is sold in sets of 12 or more. With crafts though that's rarely a problem, we just invite others over to craft with us!

Here are some other great Christmas Ideas:

Set up your family's nativity set, and each night while your children are asleep hide the baby Jesus, then when they wake up it's a game to see who can find him. - The lesson here is to teach littles to keep their eyes on Jesus, to stay focused on Him! 

Do an advent calendar, you can find many online to make and they don't need to be expensive, but instead of candy each one can hold something to remind them of the real meaning of Christmas (like a cross, a star, a manger, three wise men, etc.). 

Help your children learn to help others, choose an angel from the angel tree and let them do the shopping, if you know a family who is struggling this year take your children shopping for that family, let them put a dollar in the big red salvation army buckets, have them choose a toy and then donate it to toys for tots, volunteer at a soup kitchen, buy donuts and pass them out Christmas morning to the homeless, the possibilities are endless.  The lesson here is to teach your children to be thankful for their blessings, but also to learn to bless others, this is not something children will learn on their own it needs to be taught. 

Decorate the tree together, let your children choose special ornaments to put on the tree each year, if your child has made an ornament let them choose where to put it make this time a special family time.  It doesn't matter is your tree is perfect, or if there are two red bulbs next to each other, or if there's a small blank spot, what matters is you did it together.  If it bothers you, you can always move ornaments around later or add to it after they are in bed, but be sure not to move their special ornaments! 

Get a collection of Christmas and Winter themed books, you can often pick these up at thrift stores for just a dollar or two each. Be sure you have 25 of them!  Then wrap them, and place them under the tree.  Each day beginning on December 1st let your children choose one book to unwrap and then read it together, you could read the whole thing to them, or take turns reading whatever just do it together!  We even read one on Christmas morning before we open presents! 

Make decorations, you can make snowflakes from paper, paint Christmas trees from hand prints, wrap picture frames into presents on the walls, whatever strikes your fancy but do it together as a family.  Make Pinterest your best friend for Christmas crafts with kids - you can view my pinboard for some ideas too! Make gingerbread men from felt, or Stockings from paper, use window paint to decorate your windows. 

Build puzzles, for most people it's too Cold in December to go outside and play so instead why not spend the time building puzzles which can be glued together and hung throughout the house to remember for years to come!  Sure for little ones you'll have to start small, but as your children get older you can get bigger and bigger puzzles! 

Bake cookies!  I have such fond memories from my childhood of Mommy pulling out the baking supplies the day after Thanksgiving and bringing out her recipe file of Christmas cookies and each day we'd make 2 or 3 or 5 or 6 batches of cookies!  We ended up with popcorn tins full of cookies which we could keep in the garage since it was so cold!  We'd give cookies to my teachers for Christmas, leave a tin in the mailbox for our mailman, hand them out to Sunday School teachers and friends and family, no one came to our home during the holidays and left without a tin of cookies! 

Get a plain wreath or small tabletop Christmas tree, and just place one thing on it maybe a ribbon, or a star, whatever you find meaningful.  Display it proudly, and take it down and save it at the end of Christmas.  Then next year, pull it out and put on that ribbon or star, and add one more thing, maybe some garland, or a holly branch.  Then put it away at the end of Christmas.  Do this each and every year your children are home with you, and by the time they grow up and start families of their own you will have a beautiful wreath or tabletop tree full of memories!  Your grown children might just come home and see it and say "hey Mom remember when we put that figure skate on the tree, right after Suzie learned her first jump"!

Make memories to last a lifetime, take lots of pictures, make a scrapbook just of Christmas each year!  Make it a tradition to look over past years, before beginning your Christmas time celebrations each year, let your children help decorate the pages.  It may not be what you had in mind, but you made memories, you taught important lessons, and you made a lasting impression on your children!  Those are the things that matter!  You could even make a scrapbook of the Christmas story, starting with Mary and Joseph as they go to be counted, and continuing through Jesus' birth, and the wise men as they come to bring gifts, etc.  The possibilities are ENDLESS! 

Whatever you choose to do, make it meaningful, do it with joy and love in your heart, and share the true reason for the season with your children!  As you decorate your home to celebrate all things Christmas, don't loose sight of what's important and don't forget that your children are watching you and learning from you how to be adults! 

Birbitt Thinks Christmas can be lots of fun, and a great time for learning!  Let's keep our eyes on the Lord this Christmas season, and make our days meaningful!

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