Looking for something exciting, different and fun to do this holiday (especially with the looming lockdown)? Check out Dino Crunch – featuring a hungry T-Rex that is ready to attack.
About Dino Crunch
Dino Crunch features one hungry T-Rex and a nest full of stolen eggs. Players have to roll the dice and try to rescue as many eggs as possible. But be careful – you never quite know when the T-Rex will attack! The game is suited for two to four players, aged 4 and up.
The game comes with one T-Rex, one dinosaur nest, twenty dinosaurs eggs and a pair of tweezers. The game requires 2AA batteries that are not included.
We were not quite sure what to expect with this game when we opened it up but we ended up loving it. The game literally comes to life with dinosaur themed sounds that come from the nest which really puts you on the edge of your seat (it also gave our Yorkie quite the scare when she decided to get close up to check out where those sounds were coming from). We would each take a turn rolling the dice to rescue the corresponding egg from the nest. My years of tweezing paid off for this game – I was the pro at getting an egg out quickly! Our youngest found it a bit harder but it definitely helped encourage those fine motor skills that are so important.
We loved the suspense of the game, you could never tell when the T-Rex was about to pounce. You could accidentally knock the nest a bit and he wouldn’t attack or as my youngest loved to do, give him a pat on the back in the hopes that he would attack his brother. It really was the luck (or unlucky) of the draw when it came to when he attacked, which ensured no fighting among the kids because no one could cheat to win.
Dino Crunch is a fun, interactive game for the whole family. Each one of us loved the excitement and suspense of the game, and it made for the perfect addition to game night for all members of our family (young and old).
A picture book for younger children celebrating all the ways that creatures on our planet say “I love you.”
About Ways to Say I Love You
From snuggling garter snakes to big, cozy bear hugs, this book in verse shares how animals that we would expect, and some that we wouldn’t, express affection for each other. Each animal interaction is compared with a similar human one, in blended illustrations composed by the talented Alette Strattoff—showing that we are not so different from our animal neighbors.
Find out more about the animals in the back pages and discover how to say “I love you” in different languages.
Especially during this crazy time, it so important to let those in your life know that you love them and there are so many ways to show your love and appreciation. We are always trying to teach our children that we can do little actions each day to make the world a better place and to show our love to our friends (and to our mates as they get older!).
We loved how this book had on one page an example of how animals expressed their love and feelings for each other and on the opposite side was the similar human interaction (our personal favourite – the smelly path that deer’s leave and the baths that humans take). The writing is simple but full of impact and at times left us in giggles. The illustrations are just beautiful and really help bring home the message that animals and humans, we are all the same when it comes to love.
Ways to Say I Love You is a beautiful book for young children as we explore love, ways to express our feelings and how at the end of the day, we are all the same. This would make a beautiful holiday gift this season, especially as we find new ways to share our love and time with out families during COVID.
Marilyn Singer is a multi-award-winning children’s author who has written many books, spanning poetry, picture books, fiction, and non-fiction. Her awards include the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in poetry, the Cybil Award for Poetry 2011, and several Children’s Choice and Parents’ Choice Awards, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Alette Straathof is an illustrator who lives and works in Paris, France. She graduated in January 2016 at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Alette tries to hide small details in every one of her illustrations for people to discover – see if you can find them all.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Fully-illustrated and with a fun and innovative flip-book format, the book provides the perfect way to explore and compare the extreme environments of the two Poles.
About North Pole/South Pole: Pole to Pole A Flip Book
Take a trip to the ends of the earth and discover the extreme environments of the North and South Poles. Find out which animals live where, what the weather and climate is like and the effect global warming is having.
Beginning with the North Pole, the book introduces the geography and climate of the Arctic. Readers will discover how climate change is affecting sea ice and why multi-year ice is so important to walruses and polar bears. Find out what ice floes are and what lives under the ice. The many uses of the Arctic are explained, from the home it provides to whale hunters to the rocket and missile test sites it houses.
And then flip the book over and you arrive in the South Pole… The famous race to reach the pole in 1911 is retold and readers will discover why the orca is the ultimate polar predator. The huge tabular icebergs, sub-glacial lakes, and ice chimneys of the Antarctic are brought to life in all their impressive glory, not to mention the sea spiders, ‘death star’ starfish and other undersea giants!
Pole to Pole: A Flip Book is one of the most beautiful, unique books that I have ever read with my child. The book explores the two extreme yet beautiful environments of the North and South pole. I think we are all intrigued by these two wild and beautiful environments, from the weather to the incredible animals that call these places home.
The book covers a wide range of topics for both poles, I learned a great deal about the geography of the South pole – I never knew that the South Pole has the most active volcano, Mount Erebus! The sides of the volcano have openings in the ground called fumaroles, where steam and hot gases escape (I had such a hard time picturing this in my mind when I think of the South Pole – I still struggle picturing lava and an active volcano in a place that I picture as cold and harsh). We learned about the animals that call these places home, we learned about new animals (Crabeater seal, Antarctic shag, and so many more) that encouraged us to do our own additional research.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful and suits the tone of the book (the colours felt warm, calming and made me think of softness versus the harshness I associate with the North and South pole). The book has a great balance of information and beautiful illustrations that both parent and child will appreciate.
Michael Bright is an executive producer with the BBC’s Natural History Unit. He and his colleagues are based in Bristol, England, but they scour the entire world for stories and images. He is the author of over 75 natural history books, including Andes to Amazon; the producer of countless television and radio programs, including the award-winning television series Natural World and Wildlife on One; and has been editorial consultant on several reference works.
Nic Jones graduated from the University of Bolton with a degree in Animation and Illustration. She often finds herself inspired by the intricacy and beauty of the natural world, and applies this to her illustration and design. Her illustrations are influenced by a passion for traditional drawing techniques, and they combine rich, vivid colors, with explorative, textured brushstrokes. Nic creates her bold illustrative work in Photoshop, and she has masterfully adapted her digital painting style to convey traditional illustration techniques, whilst maintaining the commercial advantages of working digitally.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book, all opinions expressed are my own.
I have a strong suspicion that I am not alone with getting off track when COVID-19 hit back in March. All of our routine, normalcy and good habits went flying out the window when we originally thought we would be home for only a few short weeks. It has now been almost six months since we left the office and have not been back, and many of those bad habits have caught up with me.
I let the majority of my fitness and nutrition goals go these last few months and it has taken a toll on my body. I was becoming a workaholic, constantly at my laptop working without getting up and moving around for breaks. My final wake up call was not fitting into my favourite pants, which prompted me to go old school and take my body measurements with a measuring tape. Needless to say, this sprung me into action – I needed to get back to the gym and fighting my weight gain in the kitchen.
Having faced the struggles of losing weight in the past, being both successful and unsuccessful over the years, I knew that half (or even more) of the battle is done in the kitchen. Eating proper balanced meals, enough protein and increasing vegetables is key to losing weight and gaining muscle mass. But I was struggling to balance work at home with my actual home life with two kids. I was (and still am at times) losing this struggle – I am not ashamed to admit that many times I caved and gave in to snacks that were not healthy for me and my kids to try to save my sanity (not to mention to ensure I joined Zoom meetings on time). I needed something to help me prepare easy, healthy snacks that would support my goals but that did not make my life harder and more complex.
Being prepared with ready made (or easy to make) snacks and meals was key for me when I lost just over one hundred pounds. This time around I am missing the actual time and energy to put into preparing meals (odd to say when I am at home all the time!). I love eggs – they are the perfect protein to me. Easy on the stomach, healthy, filling and you can add veggies to make it the perfect snack.
Hamilton Beach has developed the perfect portion sized Egg Bites maker! It is compact, easy to use and clean. I was able to easily prepare the ingredients for the egg bites, set the machine up to cook while I continued to work, teach my kids or just take a break with my coffee. I prepared several different variations of the egg bites – plain ones with just cheese, egg bites with peppers and mushrooms (I don’t use milk and found that these took on the colour of the mushrooms so my kids refused to eat them) and my personal favourite egg bites with collared greens and cheese (see below for this recipe). I would make bulk egg bites so that I could keep them in the fridge to munch on in the afternoon instead of the Oreos and sweets that I was turning to.
As a side note – I prepared the egg mixture in a large measuring cup as I just found that it was easier to mix up the ingredients and to pour into the egg bites maker.
Here is my recipe for the egg bites with collared greens which ended up being my favourite way to have them. I use water in my egg bites to save some calories but if you prefer milk in your eggs go for it. The only difference I noticed was that when I made the egg bites with water they were smaller in size.
Egg Bite Recipes
2 to 3 large eggs
1 slice of cheese (or shredded cheese)
2 to 3 leaves of collard greens, chopped finely
half of a small onion
Crack the eggs into a large measuring cup. Beat the eggs and add in a little bit of water (I used water for less calories but you can add milk if you prefer).
Add the collared greens and onions into the measuring cup and mix.
When frumpy senior citizen Archie goes in search of his missing son in the Spanish Canary Islands, he stumbles upon a higher mission: locating a magical cure for his ailing fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Ella. Using a portal-jumping device called the Tillastrion, Archie and a stone-headed creature named Zeno are transported to Jarr-Wya, a magnificent yet terrifying island in a connected realm―along with Ella and her strong-willed mother, Tessa, who accidentally stow away on this not-so-secret quest.
What they find on Jarr-Wya is an island tortured by a wicked Star anchored in the sea, and a raging three-way battle for dominion between the stone-wielding Bangols, the fiery Olearons, and the evil Millia sands. Ella’s wit and resourcefulness emerge in this new world, while Tessa is forced to confront her long-buried secrets and a confusing new love triangle. When Ella is captured, Tessa and Archie―with the help of a company of peculiar allies―set out to save her and unravel the terrible mystery of her cure. A mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night adventure of three unlikely heroes, Above the Star reminds us that even the smallest act of bravery can transform our lives and the fates of the worlds around us.
In this novel we are introduced to quite a few key characters in this series and an amazing magical world that is facing a crisis that could destroy the world as they know it.
At the heart of the story is a family that is struggling through their daughter’s diagnosis (and potential death), a father who has disappeared and a grandfather who is quirky. Archie (grandfather) is determined to find his son and find a cure to save his granddaughter. He follows a magical trail that takes himself, his daughter in law and sick grandchild on a cruise and mysterious clues tracking his son. Nothing could have prepared him or any one on that cruise for the horrors and mystery that awaits them when they are all accidentally transported to a new world.
When the ship is transported to a brand new world, they are met with violence and death which threw me a bit (I wasn’t expecting this at all!). Alexis draws us into this new world with brilliant descriptions of the people and land, I could easily bring the characters to life in my own mind. It is a beautiful but terrifying reality that they live in.
I loved the characters, they are real, with flaws that we can all relate to and struggle with parenting, making decisions and coming to terms with illness. You can’t help but adore Ella, who is smart, full of spunk and is a fighter. She is a young girl caught between wanting to enjoy her youth and knowing that she is so unwell. She struggles with her relationship at times with her Mother but loves her family more than anything in the world. Her family is doing everything they can to fight for Ella, keep themselves together, and picking up the pieces after her Father disappears. Throw in some magical creatures, mysterious civilization, a world that is falling apart and at war – you have quite the tale!
This is an excellent novel for readers of all ages, there is something for everyone, adventure, science fiction, mystery and more. It is well written with well developed characters that you just can’t help but love. It is a definite must read!
Alexis Marie Chute is an award-winning author, artist, photographer, art curator, filmmaker, and public speaker. She has received over 40 noteworthy distinctions for her visual and literary work. Her award-winning fantasy series The 8th Island Trilogy includes, Above the Star, Below the Moon, and Inside the Sun. The series has been described as “A WRINKLE IN TIME meets THE PRINCESS BRIDE” by The Perpetual You magazine, and “Fast and bizarre… never a dull moment” by Forward Reviews. The 8th Island Trilogy “weaves STAR WARS-like characters with a WONDER-like message to form an enrapturing read for blooklovers of all ages” – US Review of Books. Chute’s bestselling memoir, Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss, was a top Kirkus title of 2017 and received a plethora of other literary distinctions. The memoir was accompanied by the feature documentary of the same name, which has screened internationally for the last three years. Chute received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design from the University of Alberta, Canada, and studied at Media Design school in Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated valedictorian with her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, USA. Chute is a highly regarded public speaker. She has presented on art, writing, bereavement, and the healing capacities of creativity around the world. Contact the Author/Artist for bookings email@example.com When not in her art/photo studio or at her computer, Chute loves to spend quality time with her family, read fiction and non-fiction, watch reality TV, paddleboard, and canoe. She is not a winter person but lives in frosty Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with her husband and their three living children.
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