Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day: B. toys Review & GIVEAWAY!

Congrats Jess Heath & The Knapps!

Here are your random numbers:

16 6 

Timestamp: 2011-04-29 17:05:39 UTC

Wowzers. I haven't done a review in forever. But tomorrow is Earth Day, and the sweet folks at B. toys sent me the most wonderful toy to review, with two more to give away!!!


B. toys. Have you heard of them (or maybe you've seen them at Target? I heart Target)? Oh my gosh, I LOVE them. I first learned of B. toys when Harper received their One Two Squeeze blocks as a birthday gift. They are the best blocks for a one-year-old in the most amazing packaging. Love at first sight!

Then B. toys sent us the Alphaberry and we just can't get enough.


It's the perfect handheld toy for teaching kids their ABCs. It's simple yet genius, and my kids are constantly fighting over the darn thing.


They absolutely love it. Oh, and one of my favorite things about the Alphaberry? Batteries included! Need I say more? Thank you B. toys.






Here are a few other things I love about the line of toys:
  • The colors! Bold & vibrant but NOT obnoxious. Seriously, I love the colors. And you do to, don't ya?
  • B. toys are GREEN! Soy-based inks, water-based varnishes, recyclable clear plastic, and recycled packaging that's too cute not to reuse! They make my green heart happy.
  • Every toy comes with a gift tag and many of the toys come in boxes that wrap themselves! You will find all sorts of excuses to give these toys as gifts.
  • For every toy purchased, B. toys gives $0.10 to Free the Children, freeing children from poverty and exploitation. Now THAT is how you celebrate the earth!
So, aren't you just dying to get your hands on one of these toys? I have two toys to give away. Snug Bugs and a Hellophone.

Hellophone: The play cell phone that calls you back.

  • Record messages for kids to discover
  • 3 pre-recorded messages
  • Lots of sounds & songs
  • Looks even cooler than a 6th grader’s!
Snug Bugs

: these snap-together bugs make a thing string!


  • Pop them together
  • Pop them apart
  • Chewable
  • Squishable
  • Loveable (Not everything crawly is creepy.)
  • 9 string-along friends. It’s got a lot of legs!
Contest Rules:

I will draw two names for the giveaway. The first draw picks which toy he/she wants and I will send the other toy to the second draw.

There are three ways to enter. You may not enter more than three times. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Please include your email address if your profile does not include that information.
  • The first way to enter is to simply leave a comment. That's it!
  • A second way to enter is to tweet about it. After sending your tweet, leave a comment letting me know that you used twitter to spread the word.
  • A third way to enter is to post about the contest on facebook. After posting on facebook, leave a comment letting me know that you used facebook to spread the word.
  • Contest ends on Friday, April 29 at 11:59pm (EST).
And thank you, B. toys!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sticker Pedicure

Guess who got her nails did?





Well, technically, she did them herself. With stickers. It was her idea. I just supplied the stickers. But I think she's onto something. Because let's face it, this shellac manicure craze is for the birds. UV lights and acetone removal? Sounds awfully suspicious.

The sticker pedicure is where it's at.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I love to study.

I began studying the Bible a few months ago. Like really studying. Intensely. Reading each verse accompanied by commentaries and translations and original text - learning the context and the history and the language.

It has been one of the most life changing efforts in my entire life. I imagine you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Up until very recently, I thought the Old Testament was way too complicated and had little relevance in my awesomely hip 21st century life. And the New Testament? Well it's all about love and Jesus and disciples and a crazy whack book called Revelations and that's all you need to know about that, right? But wow, I was so so so so so wrong.

I'm only three books into my study (Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus) and I have never been so in love with three books in my entire life. Can you even imagine my love when I get to the New Testament? I can hardly stand the wait.

I mention this only because since I started studying the Bible I find myself yearning for the next chance to read and study. But it's not as simple as opening the Bible. I require physical space to study - for writing (I write all over my Bible) and note taking and journaling and space for a computer open to online commentaries (Biblos and Precept Austin are two of my best friends). So finding time to actually study the Bible isn't as simple as it might seem. But the longing I feel as I wait for the next chance to study is such a precious gift. It's indescribable. I'm constantly hungry for more God. More of His Word. More of His teaching. And that in itself has changed who I am.

I'm most at peace when I'm in His Word. Actually hearing it. Allowing it to speak to me. And when something doesn't make sense or doesn't sit well, I become a scavenger, hunting for the context or history or language to make the pieces of the puzzle come alive. And I am so blessed to live in this era with hundreds of websites and resources at my disposal. Sure, I find myself reading commentaries from folks of different theological backgrounds, but it is beautiful to read diverse teachings from folks who have one thing in common: a desire to better know God. It is in those moments that I find myself deep in prayer, that God would speak Truth to me through His Word - not theories or educated guesses. Truth and nothing less.

If you have never actually studied God's Word, I highly encourage it. Start with Genesis. It is by far the most exciting book I have ever read. Seriously, I have a love affair with Genesis like you wouldn't believe (I spent an entire day on the first two verses. It was heavenly). And just study it. Word for Word. Verse for Verse. It will bless you in ways you cannot imagine.

And let me know about it, please? I'm not only hungry for more God, but I'm hungry to connect with others who share this passion.

And for those of you who have done a formal Bible study, such as BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), what do you think? I registered for BSF and will begin in the fall, but I'm not sold. One of its greatest selling points for me is the childcare. Supposedly it's stellar. And that's the biggest obstacle for me as I study God's Word. It's hard to study when I have two adorable toddlers climbing on me. I love the idea behind BSF, but I also like the freedom that comes with studying at my own pace. I like setting my own rules, and when rules are presented, I often enjoy breaking them, and I wonder how I'll fit into a program that carries its own set of expectations. My attitude going into it is that I'm simply learning God's Word - it's a learning journey. I'm not looking to make friends or engage in therapeutic conversations. I simply want to better understand the Bible. I think I'll enjoy BSF if that remains my attitude. What do you think?

So what about you? Do you study the Bible? And if so, what are your favorite Bible study resources? Please share!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PAR-TAY!

To celebrate my boy's third birthday, we had a rockin' race car par-tay!

I received a lot of sweet compliments on this invitation. But I can't take much credit - they were seriously so easy to make. I created the invitation in Publisher and printed four to a page. I had them laminated for pennies at Office Max. I added the clips so that they felt like real pit passes.

No Hooper party is complete without one of my mother-in -law's homemade one-of-a-kind cake creations.

She created these race cars out of fondant. Aren't they perfect?

Pit Stop: the food!

I found these baskets at GFS. A bit of a splurge at $9.99 for 12, but I thought they complimented the party wonderfully. And now I have them for future parties.

The food was basic. Hot dogs, chips, fruit, veggies, and . . .

Popcorn!

Refuel: drinks!

My husband built this four-lane race track. It was an absolute hit. And the project was simple. He bought the board and painted it. Then he painted the wooden 1x1s. He nailed those into the board and that was about it.

My parents suggested we lean it against their bed (my parents are the most hospitable people I know - when I said to my mom, "but the kids might climb on your bed with their shoes on," she said, "Alison, do you think I care? The kids will have fun!") It worked out perfectly because there was plenty of room for the kids to gather and race their cars down the tracks.

We set out a box of Matchbox cars, but the lanes are wide enough that the kids can race even larger cars.

We set out tires and bean bags for the kids to play with. Sweet Sammy had other plans for the tires.

Mister Henry is easily overwhelmed. He very much enjoyed his party, but having everyone sing to him made him quite uncomfortable.

This is as close as he would get to his cake. He never did blow out the candles.

But who really cares about candles anyway? The cake and ice cream was delicious, and that was all that mattered.

One activity not pictured is the egg hunt. Because Henry's birthday always falls close to Easter, we traditionally have an egg hunt at his birthday party. This year I splurged on car-shaped eggs that I found at the dollar store ($1 for 6 eggs as opposed to $1 for 18). I filled the eggs with stickers and candy. It was a cold rainy day, so we did the egg hunt indoors this year.

What I love about these pictures is that there is not one picture of Henry looking at the camera. He is such a shy boy.

His sister is very much the opposite.

In every way.

I found Hot Wheels cars and Hot Wheels silly bands for party favors.

Even though I insisted NO GIFTS, some of our friends and family spoiled Henry anyway.

He was very grateful.

Go figure - it wasn't until we got home that evening that I realized we never took a family picture at the party. I made Matt set up the camera and timer so that we could get a family picture. And of course, with no one behind the camera, Henry was happy to look at it :)

It was such a great party, and I am so blessed to celebrate another beautiful year with my amazing son. Thank you to everyone who made his day so sweet. We love you all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BirthDAY!

While most people were super glued to their toilet seats and drinking soapy lattes, we done April Fool's right - with a CELEBRATION.

Because April Fool's Day is only the best holiday ever. It's Henry's birthday!

This year we celebrated by hosting one of Henry's dearest gal pals, Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn spoiled Henry with doughnuts and gifts, and though a lovely gesture, it means that Miss Erin is in big big trouble (no presents means NO PRESENTS).

Finger lickin' good.
Doughnuts. Best way to start the day. Ever.
Get in my belly (that one's for you, Morgan & Aaron).
Doughnut demolition Harper style: remove the sprinkles and suck off the icing. I'm a shove-as-much-in-my-mouth-as-possible kind of doughnut eater (not pictured, your welcome), but to each her own, I guess.
The Aquadoodle is one of those inventions that makes you mad that you didn't invent it first. It's so simple and yet so brilliant.
I've never seen three toddlers play so beautifully together in all my life.
Aquadoodle = Genius.
I'm kind of obsessed with these three amigos.
And now they attempt to assist me in the kitchen. And spray the entire back wall with water. Why did I think putting the Aquadoodle away was a good idea?
Sprinkling cheese on pizza is a fine art.
And a tasty one.
As if that wasn't already the best birthday ever, MoMo stopped by with cake and balloons, and the rest is history.
MoMo might be even more awesome than the Aquadoodle.
Yep, I'm pretty sure she is.

And to think the day was only half over. If you're friends with me on fb, you know the latter part of the day was spent eating chickennuggetsfrenchfries and drooling over Mover Rich rocking out at the Imagination Movers concert.

Not a bad day for my 36 month old boy (and that one is for you, Erin Bradshaw).

Doughnuts, Aquadoodle, and Mover Rich - I mean seriously, I want to turn three!