Halloween Fun with Steve Spangler Science

Atomic Worm Goo - Steve Spangler Science

I don’t usually drag my hubby along to blogging events, because, to be quite honest, he doesn’t really GET social media. He may not be a blogger, but he is a huge Halloween enthusiast, as our friends and neighbors can attest to. Paul has been brainstorming ideas for some new props to scare the kiddos this year, and when I was graciously invited to check out all the brand new Halloween stuff during a “Blogger Playdate” last week at Steve Spangler Science, I figured he’d be all over it. He was. And Julie Gintzler made the presentation SO much fun.

Before I show you all the amazeballs stuff Steve and his staff of rockstar science geeks have dreamed up, I MUST share this short video with you. This is my husband trying out a balloon of what I can only describe as reverse-helium. It’s called sulfur hexafluoride, and I can’t tell you the science behind it, but it makes your voice unnaturally deep – and it sure did entertain a table full of giggly women! Can I get my hands on some of this? I think it would be excellent at parties. I’m just saying.

After the Darth Vader-esque icebreaker, we had a blast doing lots of hands-on experiments resulting in some pretty creepy, Halloween-appropriate stuff! First of all, Julie instructed us to place our hands in a towel-obscured container, reminiscent of the spaghetti-as-veins-in-a-bowl stuff you may remember from Halloween parties as a child. We all reached into the cold liquid to find slippery, squishy little balls – just like I imagine a big bowl of eyeballs would probably feel! When we were all appropriately squicked out, Julie asked us to remove the towels and take a look at what we just touched – and imagine our freakin’ SHOCK to see bins of clear water! ::cue Scooby Doo music:: What we were actually feeling was Jelly Marbles – tiny little orbs that grow hundreds of times their size when soaked in liquid, and since they have the same index refraction as water, they pretty much completely disappear when submerged in it. Super cool.

Continuing with the creepy squishy things, we went on to our next activity – Atomic Insta-Worms! This stuff was a blast. A tiny spoonful of “worm activator” stirred into water, then a squirt of Atomic Worm Goo – and, voila. Like the name promises, instant, creepy-as-hell, brightly colored worms! These glow crazy under a black light, too!

We also got to check out heat-sensitive color changing worms, too. And for Halloween, they’ve taken Insta-Worms to the next level with Vampire Veins, which are a sickly green color on the outside and a blood-like red on the inside, and Atomic Slime, which just about destroyed my sensory-impaired hubby. ::shudder:: So gross. Science is cool. And it turns a table of adults into a bunch of 5th graders in a hurry, let me tell ya.

Owly Images

Here’s one more vid of Melissa and Sarah trying out their monster voices for Halloween!

Check out Steve Spangler Science on Facebook and Twitter, and visit their website at http://stevespangler.com to find lots of the stuff I mentioned here. Some of the brand new Halloween items aren’t yet available, but I think they will be in the days to come! We had such a blast. Many thanks to Steve, Julie, and of course our friend Susan Wells for hosting such a fabulous blogger playdate!

Pick Punch – Make your own guitar picks!

My little boy loves his guitar. Beats that damned thing to death, but he loves it just the same. It’s not at all unusual to see him walking around the house, strumming a little tune. Unfortunately, we never can find any picks, so he’s usually using a poker chip or a playing card or something equally weird.

My father-in-law plays, and he brings picks to the kids pretty regularly – but they NEVER seem to stick around for very long! I mentioned to him a few months ago that I saw a picture online of a machine outside a music store, where you could stick an old credit card in and punch out your own guitar picks, for free. Of course, he was all over this idea, and the next time he was at our house, he brought along a new gadget: The Pick Punch!

It’s a handy little tool, about the size of a stapler. You insert an old credit card, store loyalty card, used up gift card, etc. Mash down the handle, and out pops a guitar pick!

pick punch guitar picks

pick punch guitar picks

Kayley had a cache of old Hot Topic gift cards from Christmas and birthdays, so she made a bunch of really cute picks to share with her musical friends.

pick punch guitar picks

pick punch guitar picks

This is fun! You totally want one, don’t you? Pick Punch – $24.95, and they take Paypal. I love cool shit.

This is NOT a sponsored post – I was not compensated from Pick Punch in any way whatsoever, just wanted to share something cool with ya!

Avenue B Photography – thumbs up!

avebbutton I met the most delightful lady online a few months ago – her name is Becca, and she’s the amazing photographer behind Avenue B Photography. I sort of blog-stalked her for awhile before we spoke, which is how I became acquainted with her unique style of photography. She’s a busy mom of 4 adorable little boys, and her personal blog is punctuated with lots of pictures of her family. I love how Becca takes pictures that just POP with color – they’re so rich and delicious, like a happy dream. I’ve decided I want to live inside the world she creates in her pictures! Becca has such a gift for capturing children exactly how they seem in real life. She manages to make her photographs downright magical, and I LOVE how these pictures of my kids turned out.

Check out little Pablo – he loooooved Becca. And since Pablo is my little intuitive one who always recognizes goodness in people, I knew she was special!

Cutie Pablo!

Lexi and Nikki really enjoyed being goofy for the camera – like always!

Silly Lexi and Nikki

Mallory looks so sweet here, I just want to lean in close and sniff her hair!

Pretty Mallory!

And of course, pretty Kayley! Becca pointed out that she had the same shirt at home. Ha! Gotta love Target.

Smiley Kayley

My only regret is that we didn’t get any pictures of Paul and me with the kids. Hopefully we can schedule another session soon, and get a few more good ones! I spent some time browsing through Becca’s portfolio on her new site, and I love some of the locations she uses for her photo shoots. The funny thing is, we live right near each other and I recognize many of the places in her photos – but through her lens, they look delightfully dreamier than they do in real life. She’s got a gift, for sure.

If you’re in or near Denver, I would absolutely encourage you to get in touch with Becca. She’s so talented, patient, and funny – she can bring out the best in your kids, resulting in the most amazing pictures. If you hurry, you might be able to get a few pictures for the grandparents for Christmas! Go check it out!

Rebecca Morgenegg – Avenue B Photography

(You can also find Becca on Twitter at @avenuebphotos and on Facebook.)

Thanks for doing such amazing work, Becca! xoxo

Elena’s Big Move – Review

As you know, our family moved across town just after Christmas of last year, and my kids had to switch schools halfway through kindergarten. The transition went well, thank goodness, and we could not be happier with the new school – my kids have had great teachers and they’ve made lots of friends. Huge thumbs up all around.

Those early days were stressful and scary, though – and I remember how nervous Mallory was on that first day. It warmed my heart tremendously to see two special little girls, who have since become Mallory’s very dear friends, approach her from each side and take her by the hand to show her around the classroom. Here’s a picture from that day…you can see how apprehensive Mallory was, poor bug.

1st Day at the New School!

I was thinking of my kids and that whole experience as I read Elena’s Big Move, the story of a young girl who moves from Puerto Rico to the United States, leaving behind her home, school, and her friends. Elena, the young girl in the story, learns that her family will be moving to Indiana for her father’s job. She prepares for the move by taking lots of photographs of all the places and people in Puerto Rico that are important to her and which hold special memories. She puts these photos in a scrapbook to take with her and share with her new friends in Indiana.

After reading this story, I thought to myself, this is genius. I really wish I would have come up with this idea when we were getting ready to move. Although it would have been tedious trying to carve out some time to run around taking pictures of “our” McDonald’s and Starbucks and park playground and school classroom, I would have done it. It might have really helped all of the kids adjust to life in our new ‘hood, if we’d had a few memories of our old one.

This book would be a great addition to your school’s library or to your own library at home – it deals with a common life changing situation in a neat way – plus, it’s full of fun Spanish words. Check it out!

This book was provided to my family by the publisher for review purposes. We are donating it to our school’s library so other kids can benefit from it, too!

Defining Twilight – OMG, my mom is tricking me into LEARNING.

You all know I have a 14-year-old who is a little bit Twilight obsessed. So when I found out about a vocabulary workbook designed to be used side-by-side with the Twilight books, I was all over it. I just received a review copy of Defining Twilight from the book’s author, Brian Leaf.

I think the whole notion of jumping on the Twilight bandwagon and using the book’s popularity to sell your own books educate apathetic teens is GENIUS. The book is full of references with exact page numbers so you can flip back and forth and figure out the meanings of words. I’m not so sure my child would find it to be a fun filled activity that she would do all by herself, but if I were MAKING her do it, she’d probably enjoy it more than she would enjoy a regular old English lesson from her teacher. And I’ll bet there are some kids who would really enjoy this. I noticed there’s another workbook out that goes along with New Moon. Pretty cool.

Defining Twilight: Vocabulary Workbook for Unlocking the SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT…Can you resist the allure of Edward’s myriad charms—his ochre eyes and tousled hair, the cadence of his speech, his chiseled alabaster skin, and his gratuitous charm? Will you hunt surreptitiously and tolerate the ceaseless deluge in Forks to evade the sun and uphold the facade? Join Edward and Bella as you learn more than 600 vocabulary words to improve your score on the *SAT, ACT®, GED®, and SSAT® exams!

Kind of a fun book, especially if you have a kid who’s preparing for the ACT or SAT test. Check it out!

Eating Right Kids at Safeway

We recently sampled some goodies from a brand new line of kid-friendly healthier foods, thanks to Safeway and Team Mom. Warner Bros. Consumer Products teamed up with Safeway to create the new healthier food and beverage line, which features Looney Tunes characters. The Eating Right Kids line is available exclusively from Safeway, and features items such as bread, cereal, chewy snack bars, frozen entrees, waffles, fruit cups, fruits and vegetables, juice, pudding, and Vitamin Water.

Interestingly enough, Warner Bros. has stated that they will no longer use any of the Looney Tunes characters on any less-than-healthy food packaging, with the exception of special occasion foods, such as certain ice cream treats and birthday cakes.

“We’ve cleared the market of anything that might be considered unhealthy,” said Brad Globe, prexy of Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products. “Our Looney Tunes characters are our crown jewels. We said, ‘Hey, we need to figure out how we can be part of some kind of solution and use our characters in a positive way that will improve the issues related to childhood obesity.'”

That’s awesome! And the foods are great. As much as I’d love my children to eat a plateful of whatever healthy dinner I lovingly prepare, the reality is that sometimes we need to rely on convenience foods. It’s nice to be able to reach for a healthier option when I’m out shopping!

P.S. The chewy bars are the bomb-diggity. I didn’t even share them with my kids. Mean mommy!

Goodbyn Lunchboxes – Awesome!

Edit: We used these lunchboxes for about 3 months, until an aide gently took me aside and told me that EVERY DAY, my kids required assistance both opening and closing their lunchboxes. Remember me mentioning a learning curve? Well, if my grownup self had trouble getting it closed, imagine how well my 1st graders did. We ended up switching back to our old, zippered, insulated lunch bags. Sorry, Goodbyn – LOVE the idea, love the look, love the stickers, love everything behind the company – but I’m going to have to amend my review and say that these are best for kids above probably 4th grade or so. Also, the bottles leak pretty regularly, and the fact that these are not insulated means your kids will be drinking warm juice and eating warm applesauce by lunch time. My thoughts? Great for grownups who take their lunch to work and put it in the office refrigerator.

I first heard about these fantastic lunchboxes from Kids Haus, one of my favorite blogs. As soon as I saw them, I was intrigued – having school-aged twins means I pack a LOT of little lunches, and we go through a LOT of sandwich baggies, Capri Suns, and individually packaged things like yogurt, applesauce, and string cheese. I was all over the idea of leaving behind all that packaging, so I decided to pick up a pair of these darling lunchboxes for Pablo and Mallory. The concept is almost like bento, except without all the foods touching each other. (A travesty in the mind of my child!)

My Goodbyn lunchboxes (purchased from reusablebags.com) arrived a couple of days after I placed my order – super fast! I was worried at first, because they seem so popular – I figured I’d have to wait awhile, but I didn’t. I ordered pink for Mallory and green for Pablo, and each one arrived with its own matching water bottle. Mallory’s bottle has sort of a wonky lid, but so far it’s working fine, so I’m not concerned. And each lunchbox contained a huge roll of stickers! Pablo and Mallory had SO much fun personalizing their individual lunchboxes – we sat at the kitchen table for close to an hour, applying funky little eyeballs and fried eggs and rocketships. So cute.

There’s been a bit of a learning curve with the kids getting the boxes open and closed, but I think they’ll figure it out in time. Since each compartment is separate, it’s important to take the time to seal up each area – it’s like putting on a Tupperware lid, except you have to press down in like 20 places. No biggie.

And the first day they took them to school, all the other kids flipped out over them. Pablo’s aide even mentioned to me how much the other kids liked his “lunchbox with ears.” I’ve been packing sandwiches, fruit, and cheese so far. I haven’t tried spooning applesauce or yogurt into the sectioned areas yet. I think we’ll try to master getting the thing opened and closed before we venture into messy foods!

But so far, no complaints. At around $30 each, they may seem a bit pricy – but the price includes the water bottle and the 250+ stickers for personalization. I’m sure we’ll make up that cost right away not buying individually portioned snacks and drinks. And best of all, they are BPA and phthalate-free. I am SO pleased with these lunchboxes, and my kids love them, too!

update…here are our Goodbyns!

My kids' new Goodbyn Lunchboxes

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