The “Anti-Fairy Tale” – When are your kids old enough to watch more mature programming?



When our kids were little we tried to keep them away from television as much as possible. I was a stay-at-home mom so I was always trying to engage them with toys, games and crafts. They watched very little television.

One night my husband and I were watching Titanic (back then we watched it on DVD).  We were engrossed in the movie, as well as our daughter who was about two years old at that time. She was fascinated by it and she was really into the character of Rose as well as her “heart of the ocean” necklace. She was so into it that she asked to watch the movie. My husband still chuckle about how she said Titanic and “Jack and Woes” (Woes instead of Rose).

We let her watch it (we made sure she didn’t see any bad parts like when they engaged in sex). We even bought her a beautiful Rose doll and the heart of the ocean necklace.

Anther movie she got into for some odd reason was The Mummy (1999). It’s not a scary movie for adults, but she caught us watching it one time and wanted to watch it with us. She enjoyed that movie too.

Our son has never really been into watching television or movies. Even now that he’s 17 years old. He rather listen to CNN or MSNBC (on in the background) than watch television.

When he was just a toddler I had fallen asleep watching the movie The Ring. When I woke up (a short time later) our on had crawled out of his bed (he was napping too, which is why I fell asleep) and sat on the couch in the living room next to me. When I woke up he was watching The Ring. He was not phased by it at all, but I felt like the worse mother ever knowing that my toddler was watching a scary movie. Thankfully I think he was just too young at the time to understand any of it.


As a parent, when do you know if your child is ready to watch “grown up” movies and television?  When does a child transition from Princesses and Fairy Tales to zombies and violence? When is a child ready for the “Anti-Fairy Tales?” What I mean by that is movies and shows that don’t feature singing princesses, talking animals, sunshine, rainbows and unicorns (make believe, fairy tale stuff).

Our daughter will be 20 this year and I still cringe when I know she’s going to see an “R” rated movie. She’s legally able to, but as a mom I am not always accepting of it.

Her and her best friend went to see the film Sausage Party which probably should have been X-rated if you ask me. It’s a very raunchy film with A LOT of sexual references and foul language. I wish she had seen something else.

It reminds me of the time one of her friends went to see the film Knocked Up when she was only 9 years old. That movie is VERY inappropriate for 9 year olds. Sigh…

I think the child’s maturity level has a lot to do with it. Our daughter was never really into things like Barney or Sesame Street. She seemed to gravitate towards movies and shows for older children (or adults).

I am NOT suggesting that parents let their young children watch programming with sex, violence and foul language. I think when it comes to shows like The Walking Dead, which is very popular with the kids in middle school, and American Horror Story, which many teens watch – it’s up to their parents to decide if they are mature enough to watch them. I am still not keen on our daughter (almost 20) watching American Horror Story. There is a lot of sex and innuendos in that series. But she’s almost 20, so she’s mature enough.


When it comes to watching television or movies together as a family I always look for things that are more “family friendly.” Take for example Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (premiereing on Netflix on January 13, 2017). The series is a dark comedy that will entertain older kids just as much as their younger siblings. Even parents will enjoy it.

Based on the internationally best-selling series of books by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) and starring Emmy and Tony Award winner Neil Patrick Harris, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events recounts the tragic tale of the Baudelaire orphans — Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – whose evil guardian Count Olaf will stop at nothing to get his hands on their inheritance. The siblings must outsmart Olaf at every turn, foiling his many devious plans and disguises, in order to discover clues to their parents’ mysterious death.

I had the opportunity to check out the new series. I even asked my 17 year old son to watch with me to get his feedback.

As an adult, I enjoyed the show. It’s a bit corny at times, but in a fun way. I found it to be very entertaining. Neil Patrick Harris is rather scary looking in his role of Olaf.

My son is hard to impress. As I mentioned earlier he’s not a big television watcher. He said it was “pretty good.” Sadly, he’s a man of few words. I did ask him if he would watch it again and he said “yes.”

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is fun and entertaining for both young children, ‘tweens, teens and adults. It’s the ideal “family friendly” series.

The series premieres on Friday, January 13, 2017. I think it’s funny that this dark comedy debuts on the dreaded Friday the 13th. LOL!


Other Netflix original series that are ideal for families to watch together include Fuller House, DreamWorks TrollHunters, Dawn of the Croods, Some Assembly Required, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Tarzan and Jane and even Stranger Things. I LOVE Stranger Things and I think it’s OK for older children, as well as ‘tweens and teens. I’m an adult and I LOVE that show.

When did your child transition into more grown up shows? What age were they when it happened? Why did you feel it was time?

If your child is still too young, at what point do you think you’ll let them watch more grown up programming?

I would really love to hear reader’s thoughts on this subject matter. I would love it if you could comment and share your thoughts.

For more information about Netflix please visit Netflix.com. The brand can also be found on social media. All of their links are found on their site.



*I have partnered with Netflix to bring you this information. I have received free service and promotional products in exchange for my participation. There is no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Easter is just around the corner! Get ready to celebrate with HarperCollins Children’s Books


Our son gathering Easter Eggs taken approx. 12 years ago.

Our son gathering Easter Eggs taken approx. 12 years ago.

This time of year you expect to see Valentine’s Day cards, candy and decor. After all, stores started to stock their shelves with Valentine’s Day stuff practically the moment the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day (or so it would seem).

Believe it or not I have seen EASTER candy on store shelves already – and Easter is not until April 16th of this year. We have a very long time to think about it.

Our kids are 17 and almost 20 years old. Needless to say it’ been a while since the Easter Bunny stopped at our home delivering Easter baskets (although my kids still wand candy on Easter).

We never put too much candy in their Easter baskets because we knew their grandparents and great-grandparents would spoil them like crazy with candy. Instead we put in the basket a small plush toy, coloring books, crayons, a movie and a book. We also included some candy too.

If you are like us and you like to include a book in your child or grandchild’s Easter basket, you should check out these titles from HaperCollins.

I work with Kindergartners and I think these titles look (and sound) adorable for young children.


Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes

9780062408723 — $17.99 —Ages 4 to 8 

The multiple-award-winning and national bestselling author Kevin Henkes’ 50th book for children is a graphic novel for preschoolers about four eggs, one big surprise, and an unlikely friendship. Egg is not only a perfect Easter gift but a classic read-alone and read-aloud for all year round.


The Runaway Bunny: A 75th Anniversary Retrospective 
Written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

9780062489944 — $19.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

A 75th anniversary edition of the bestselling classic story, The Runaway Bunny, with a historical essay by Leonard Marcus, featuring archival materials all presented in a beautiful linen case cover with a commemorative foil sticker.


The Story of the Easter Bunny Board Book

Written by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert

9780062381552 — $7.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

Everyone knows who the Easter Bunny is, but not everybody knows where he comes from. This fresh, innovative story describes how one little rabbit became a legend. Now in board book!


Otter Loves Easter
Written & illustrated by Sam Garton

9780062393395 — $9.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

For her next paper-over-board picture book, Otter celebrates Easter with a little too much chocolate and a lot of creativity.


How to be a Bigger Bunny
Written by Florence Minor, illustrated by Wendell Minor

9780062352552 — $14.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

Perfect for springtime and Easter, Florence and Wendell’s joyous picture book celebrates the powers of persistence and learning from good books. Featuring lots of adorable bunnies as illustrated by the inimitable Wendell Minor!


Fancy Nancy and the Missing Easter Bunny

Written by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

9780062377920 — $4.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 2/7/2017

Fancy Nancy can’t wait for Easter… and this year, the family is in for a treat. Join Fancy Nancy in a fabulous storybook adventure about Easter, complete with fancy stickers!

Are you gearing up for Easter?

What do you put in your child’s/grandchild’s Easter basket? Do you often include books?

This is an Easter cake that I make often.

This is an Easter cake that I make often.


*I was not compensated for this post. I shared this information for the benefit of site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Tiny Dinosaurs, Big Adventures: Chapter Book Series for Daredevils & Dino Fans



Most children are fascinated when it comes to dinosaurs. I was when I was a young girl. Even as an adult I still find them so interesting. I often think about what life would be like back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Growing up I had a lot of books pertaining to dinosaurs. I wanted to be an Archaeologist when I grew up. I thought it would be amazing to travel around the globe discovering new dinosaurs.

If you have a child or grandchild in your life, you might be interested in learning about a new chapter book series from video game developer and illustrator Dustin Hansen called Microsaurs. Microsaurs combines fun thing that many kids enjoy – dinosaurs, skateboarding, and fun gadgets – for unforgettable adventures.

Dustin Hansen was raised in rural Utah, where he drew great inspiration from the outdoor and the rich history that surrounded him. To say that Utah was once a dinosaur playground is an understatement. He has been writing and creating art for the video game industry for more than two decades.

In this first Microsaurs adventure, “Follow That Tiny-Dactyl,” Danny and Lin follow a tiny pterodactyl to a secret laboratory, and find themselves shrink-ified and surrounded by dinosaurs. Soon, they’re enlisted by Professor Penrod, the paleontologist who discovered the Microsaurs, to watch them while he goes looking for more. Who knew that tracking one tiny pterodactyl would open up such a giant world of adventure?

The book features amusing illustrations, cool gadgets, and best of all, informative facts about the real-life dinosaurs on which the Microsaurs are based upon.

This new chapter book series is sure to appeal to dinosaur fans, daredevils, and young scientists alike.

The next volume in the series is called “Microsaurs: Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack.” It’s due to be released in July 2017.

I have a copy of the book (and some other fun dinosaur goodies), but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet due to the holidays. Once I’ve had the opportunity to read the book I will update this post with my thoughts.

From what I can tell it’s an easy read. It’s targeted to 2nd – 5th graders (ages 7-10) and has 224 pages.

Look for “Microsaurs: Follow That Tiny-Dactyl,” where ever books are sold. I do find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.



*I received a free copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Toys for the Holiday



Are you still looking for some great gifts to put under the tree for your child, grandchild, niece or nephew? If you answer “yes,” look no further than your local Whole Foods Market. That’s right – your local grocery store.

Whole Foods Market has teamed up with PBS KIDS by launching new holiday items for their line of responsibly-sourced toys.

Not only are these toys environmentally friendly, but they also give back – to the PBS mission of education for all children. 100% of profits for the supplier, PBS, go back to their non-profit work. All products give 1% to Whole Kids Foundation, which helps give parents, teachers and children more tools and opportunities to eat well.

Some of the PBS KIDS’ responsibly-sourced PlanToys and Aurora Plush animals are  pictured above and below.


I LOVE the plush toys! They look adorable. I wish we had a Whole Foods Market local to us. I would purchase the plush toys not only for gifts, but also for myself. I love to collect soft, cuddly, plush animals. The Llama (?) and Ferret (?) pictured above are especially cute.

I received a couple of toys from the collection to review.


Honey Bee Stacker 

All little ones should experience the fun of a stacker toy. Normally they are made of cheap plastic with colorful rings. This set is a much better option. It’s made from wood and meant to last for many years (this is something that could be passed down in a family).

Stacker toys are a great way to teach even a young child about shapes and sizes. The “objective” is to stack the rings on top of each other from largest to smallest.

I love the adorable little bee the sits on top.

When not in use I think this makes an adorable nursery/toddler room decoration.


Safari Animal Outdoor Croquet Set

I haven’t had the opportunity to play with this set yet. I am donating it to the classroom where I work. I thought this would be a great toy to enjoy indoors when it’s too cold or raining to go outside. We have use of the gym in the afternoon.

This is a classic croquet set. The objective is to hit the balls under the wooden arches.

This set is very well made. I love that it’s made out of wood. Under normal use this set could last for many, many years.

Even adults could have fun with this game too (although the mallets are a bit short for adults).

Not only are the PlanToys and Aurora Plush toys very well made, I think it’s a “win-win” situation that proceeds from the sales goes to children’s charities.

You can find these and other toys are your local Whole Foods Market. To find a location near you visit WholeFoodsMarket.com. The brand can also be found on social media.



*I received free samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Find holiday gifts, decor and party favors at Oriental Trading Company


A stocking full of goodies found at Oriental Trading Co. (PHOTO SOURCE: OTC)

A stocking full of goodies found at Oriental Trading Co. (PHOTO SOURCE: OTC)

Long ago, when my kids were little (they are 17 and almost 20 now…sigh…), I used to be the “Class mom” at their elementary school. A class mom helped with holiday parties, field trips, special projects and more.

I used to love to give the kids in each class a little goodie bag. Finding stuff to put in the goodie bags was easier said than done. Due to allergies, food wasn’t really an option (such as cookies). I wanted to give them things like coloring books, crayons and small toys.

Back then I found the perfect resource – Oriental Trading Company. Since then they are my #1 place to go when I am looking for gifts for “bulk.”

Oriental Trading is much more than that. They also offer holiday and seasonal decorations, party supplies, gifts and more. When I say “decorations,” I’m not just talking about paper things you tape to the wall or ceiling – I’m talking real decorations and home decor.

Below are some examples of the lovely home decor items I have collected over the years from Oriental Trading.


I have a collection of Zombie Gnomes. The one on the left is from Oriental Trading.



The “LOVE” blocks are from Oriental Trading



I had been a stay at home mom for a long time. I returned tot he work place a few years ago. Since then I have worked with young children. Now I have the need to purchase small gifts in bulk. I truly enjoy gifting children goodies for the holidays. It makes my heart smile when I see how happy and exited they are when they get a goodie bag from me.

This year I stocked up on goodies from Oriental Trading. This is the first time all the kids in the class celebrates Christmas, so I was able to get a few Christmas items. Normally I tend to stick with a winter/snow theme instead so as not gift Christmas items to children who celebrate other winter holidays.

I love all the goodies I got from their Christmas Toys and Novelties section.


These adorable little polar bears, dressed up for playtime in the snow with their colorful hats and scarves, are actually finger puppets. They are made for little fingers, but I was able to put them on my fingers too.

The package came with enough to give each child at least two of them (we have 22 kids in our class).

These are super adorable. I might just keep the extras for myself.


These are fun! They are little elves (boys and girls) that bend. You can bend their arms and legs into different positions (I kept them flat for the photo). You can bend them to hang on to things too.

I love that they came in both genders. I should have enough of these to give each child a boy and a girl elve. They are going to have fun with these.


These are little bottles of bubbles all dressed for winter with little snowflakes adorning the bottles.

Each bottle comes with a tiny wand that is attached to the bottle.

These are itty bitty, but considering I work with 4-6 year olds, these should be fine for their little hands.


These rubber duckies are darling! I love them! How cute are these?

They are real rubber duckies, so kids can play with them in the bath tub.

I love how cute they are all dressed for the holiday. The Santa Duck is my favorite.


This was a great buy from Oriental Trading. They are finger puppets that came in a variety of designs. I believe there are 72 in total, which means I can give each child one of each of the designs.

They have holes on the bottom (where the legs would go). Simply slid you fingers through those holes and it looks like the puppets have legs. You can make them walk across the table. It’s actually very funny to see.

Most still had the holes in them that needed to be popped out, but it took no effort at all. They easily popped out.

I would to see the kids I work with put on a little puppet show with these adorable finger puppets.


The kids I work with are really into the Peanuts Gang. I found these adorable, festive Christmas stickers on Oriental Trading. These are not for the goodie bags, but rather for the stickers we give them every day when they behave (which is pretty much all the kids, every day). The get smaller stickers for their sticker charts and larger stickers (like ones shown above) to wear on their shirts.

There are 100 stickers on each roll and various designs. They are super cute and perfect for the holiday.


These stickers I am going to put in their goodie bags. They are “Build your own Snowman” stickers. Each one comes with a snowman (look how cute their faces are) and a variety of things to decorate them with (scarves, mittens, buttons, hats…). There are a variety of ones on each roll too. I thought these would be fun for the kids to put together on a book or something else. I even considered giving these out earlier and letting the kid use them to decorate cards for their moms and dads. I haven’t put the goodie bags together yet, so I am still on the fence as to what I am doing with these.

I also picked up some Christmas crafts where the kids could make their own ornaments from Oriental Trading. They have a large variety of options. Sadly, I didn’t read the quantity of each one that I purchased, so I didn’t order enough for each child to do one. I have two different ornaments the kid can make and only 12 of each (we have 22 kids).

I’m either going to put them in the prize bin (the kids get prizes when they reach certain points on the chart) or put on in each goodie bag.

It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pay attention to the quantity. They would have made a fun project to do together. Every day the kids do a project together and that is what my plan was for the ornaments.

I don’t have a photo of the completed ornaments, only because I have 12 of each and I want to give them to the kids I work with.

Here are images of the ornaments I have for the kid to make.

snow-globe-ornaments snowman-ornaments

One set of ornaments are made from sturdy cardboard with an image a child can color. I like that you can add a name to the base to personalize them. My idea was to put each child’s name on it and the year so they can gift the ornament to their family.

The snowman ornaments are made with tiny pom poms that go inside a clear, round ornament. Then you can peel and stick on the facial features and the ear muffs which are pop poms connected with a tiny pipe cleaner/chenille stem. They are super cute!

It looks like Oriental Trading is sold out of the ornaments too, so I couldn’t order more. Oh well. Next year I’ll make sure to make sure of the quantity before ordering.

The best thing of all – all of the items are super affordable. That is the #1 one reason why I shop at Oriental Trading – because I can get items in bulk for an affordable price.

If you are in the market for holiday decorations, decor, gifts or party favors, be sure to check out what Oriental Trading has to offer.

Oriental Trading even has a crafting section to inspire you. I love their recipe for candy cane brownies and their Polar Express Party ideas are wonderful!

Visit OrientalTrading.com. You can also find Oriental Trading on all social media channels. Their links are found on the bottom right of their website.

Do you shop at Oriental Trading?

Have you ever visited their website or received one of their catalogs?

Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.




*I received free products to review. I also purchase from Oriental Trading on my own from time to time. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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8 Expert Tips in Handling Picky Eaters


Young girl in kitchen eating chicken and vegetables smiling

Making kids eat healthy foods is a to priority for all parents. However, as children are naturally picky eaters, feeding them with healthy foods prove to be a challenge. It can put your patience and understanding to the test.

If you are currently struggling with these issues, here are 8 tips you can use.

1. Make your kid’s favorite meals a lot healthier

If your kid is already passionate about pancakes and cereals, try to create a healthier version of them. Pancakes, for example, can be made with banana so you don’t have to pack in a lot of sugar into the mix. You can also shred bits of vegetables in the batter. The key thing is presentation. You need to be creative in how you’re going to present healthier treats.

2. Avoid keeping unhealthy snacks in your pantry

When kids can’t see bags of chips and candies, they aren’t likely to eat them. By keeping out the bad stuff in your kitchen, you’ll leave them with no other option but to snack on healthy stuff.

You have to remember, however, that limiting treats completely isn’t good, too. When you deprive your kids of their treats, they are prone to overindulging once they get their hands on them. You need to teach them about moderation and one way to do that is to offer treats occasionally.

3. Encourage your kids to join meal preparations

Encouraging your kids to participate in meal preparation gives them more opportunity to decide on the food they’ll eat. You can ask for their help in deciding the meals for the week and take them with you when you go to the grocery.

When kids feel more in control, you’ll feel less stressed out in convincing them to eat the food they prepared. It can make meal time enjoyable not only for them but for the whole family, too.


4. Create a schedule for their snacks

Creating and sticking to a schedule works well for kids. If they are conditioned to get treats at a certain time, they’ll bug you less about them before meal time. Bear in mind that it may take a while before they get used to it so be patient with your kids.

When they complain about feeling hungry, do not give in to the temptation of offering them snacks. Slight hunger is alright. It’s even helpful, actually, in motivating your picky eaters to eat whatever is there at your dining table. This, however, is different from letting your children go extremely hungry just to force them to eat.

In preparing their snacks, it’s a good idea to incorporate two food groups. This way, your kids will be able to have more nutrients in a single serving. For example, if you’ll be offering whole wheat bread, make sure that you also add cheese.

5. Be a good example

Children look up to adults. They tend to imitate what they see adults do. If they often catch you munching on chips and drinking sodas, they are likely to do the same thing. Set up a good example and try to eat healthy foods, especially when they’re around. It’s also a good idea to share your food with them to make them feel more comfortable about eating healthy. You can encourage them to take a piece of your carrot sticks or to taste your morning smoothie.

6. Reward good behavior

If your picky eater finishes a plate of healthy food or his serving of vegetable, reward him with a healthy treat after his meal. Rewards motivate children to keep doing the same behavior and the more they do it, the more it becomes a habit.

7. Never punish your kid

Picky eaters can make you feel irritated, frustrated and stressed out. No matter how difficult it is to feed your kids, never use punishment as a response. Threatening your kids won’t only make it even harder for you to feed them but it can also make them lose their confidence in you. They can avoid or even hate you.

Punishment isn’t limited to physical abuse. Threatening your children about letting them starve is a form of punishment, too. Cursing or showing aggressive behavior at the dining table isn’t acceptable as well. These actions can make your kids associate food with negative emotions and thoughts.

8. Give more opportunities

If your kid denies a food you prepare for the first time, don’t take it out of the equation completely. You can reintroduce it again after a couple of weeks.

When handling picky eaters, it’s important that you give them more healthy options to choose from. You can mix and match the food items or serve them in a different way. Take, for example, potatoes. You can bake, puree or mash them depending on your dish. You can also substitute food items, like using pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.

Little baby girl eating breakfast. Beautiful natural light

Author’s Bio:

Samantha is a full-time writer and mother to three kids. She has covered a wide range of subjects throughout her career- from parenting hacks to writing the best soup maker reviews.

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