{review} tap the magic tree.

Tap The Magic Tree Book Review The Good:
On our last trip to the bookstore, I picked up Tap The Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. I couldn’t put it down. I was captivated from the opening: “There’s magic in this bare, brown tree. Tap it once. Turn the page to see.” Each page turn brings with it a new interaction- tap, rub, pat, blow a kiss- and a change of season- the magic tree sprouts leaves, buds, flowers and fruit, the leaves fall, then snow falls and new life begins again.

This clever book does SO much for children- it asks them to listen and follow directions and keeps them engaged, all while teaching about patience, counting and the seasons. While it is recommended for children ages 4-8, the skills required to keep this sweet story moving are not beyond the grasp of Madeline (now 19 months old). After just a few reads, she is able to anticipate and execute most of the prompts (tapping on the trunk and blowing away the leaves) without coaching.

Any story that keeps my child in my lap the whole time is a good one in my book.

The Bad:
Things can get a little wild when you’re shaking and knocking on the tree, so this isn’t always the best story to read right before bed.

The Ugly:
There’s nothing ugly about the simple illustrations in this book. They’re lovely!

Rating (1-Not Good, 2- Okay, 3- Good, 4-Very Good, 5- AMAZING!):
4

Click here to watch a video of a child reading Tap The Magic Tree.

{review + giveaway} baby BOGS.

EDITORS NOTE: (1/17/2014) Giveaway has concluded and winner has been selected.

Want to win a $100 BOGS Footwear Gift Card Code? Read to the end for details…

BOGS logo
The Good:
I based my review of Baby BOGS on the Four Ws- Warm, Waterproof, Wearable and Washable. They passed with flying colors!

Warm– Constructed with 3mm Neo-Tech Insulation, these little boots keep Maddie’s toes cozy warm when worn with just a regular pair of socks. She’s worn them out in temperatures close to freezing, and each time we pulled them off inside, her feet were still toasty. They have become our go-to shoe when leaving the house in the cold temps or wet weather.

Waterproof– We haven’t had snow in North Carolina yet, but Maddie tested them out in some muddy puddles, and they held up great! The boot feels like it’s made out of wetsuit material, and while it does absorb some water/feel wet on the outside, water does not stand a chance of seeping inside.

Wearable– Baby BOGS have built-in handle on the sides of the boot. They are this mother’s dream come true, since Miss Independent 18 month old is already getting the hang of pulling them on herself! They weigh next to nothing and aren’t clunky like other rubber rain/snow boots, so she has no problem walking/running around in them. Baby BOGS seem really versatile; I can envision Madeline rocking them at the park on chilly afternoons, romping in her first snowfall this winter and jumping in puddles this spring! Bonus: They come in a ton of cute colors and patterns!

Washable– Wash on warm and let air dry? Couldn’t be simpler. Even after a romp in the mud, Maddie’s Bogs looked good as new after a wash. My advice? Wash them at bedtime, so they can dry overnight and be ready again first thing in the morning.

The Bad:
BOGS Footwear are based on a “European last,” which I gather is fancy speak for contours to make your foot feel really good. However, this means their shoes are only offered in full sizes, so if you are a half size they recommend you order a size up. At the time we ordered her boots, Maddie was in a size four shoe. I measured her foot using their sizing chart anyway, and it said to order size five. When we first pulled them on, the size fives seemed really roomy in the toe. At the end of the day, Madster walks/runs fine in them now, so although it’s not the snug fit I was hoping for, I’m glad she has room to grow into them. Caveat emptor: If you have a tiny baby (like me), you should definitely measure your child’s foot rather than just buying per the suggested sizing on the box.
Baby BOGS Size Chart

Even though Baby Bogs are priced comparably with baby snow boots from Columbia, it’s always hard for me to justify spending a ton of money on children’s clothes/shoes, when they grow out of them so quickly! But when it comes to weatherproofing, Andrew and I are of the belief you shouldn’t settle for less. That doesn’t mean the $49 price tag isn’t a tough pill to swallow. It is. But I’m also fairly certain these boots will last long enough to warm up more than one wee Wilhelm in the coming years.

The Ugly:
I’m this close to pulling the trigger and ordering myself this pair of hi Herringbone Plimsolls ! My wallet is not going to think very highly of this (but my feet will)!

Rating (1-Not Good, 2- Okay, 3- Good, 4-Very Good, 5- AMAZING!):
4

Finally, because they love you just as much as I do, the very generous folks at BOGS have agreed to give away a $100 BOGSfootwear.com Gift Card Code to one lucky Keep Calm and Soldier On reader! Enter using the Raffelcopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I want to know what you think! Do you love your Bogs or could you live without them? Were they worth the investment for your kids?

*A pair of boots was provided by BOGS Footwear for review purposes.

{review + giveaway} GooseWaddle Blanket & Blankie Set.

Want to win a Goosewaddle Blanket & Blankie Set? Details at the end of this post…

The Good:
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the new baby in the family? The sweetest baby shower gift? The coziest way to snuggle up your little buddy? Look no further. GooseWaddle’s got you covered with their silky soft, comfy cozy baby blankets and blankies.

These blankets are exactly what you want for your baby- warmth. Tell me I’m not alone in this, but I’ve been known to go into Madeline’s room (every single night) and pull the covers up all the way up to her chin. I don’t hang about. As long as she’s covered, I’m good to go. With a GooseWaddle blanket in her crib, I’ll never have to worry again. And although Madeline is already attached to her “guys” (bunny, puppy and lamby), I’ve been trying to bring GooseWaddle’s blankie into the mix for it’s versatility alone- hug it, lay it under your head, wrap up baby dolls with it, soothe yourself to sleep with it as you pet the satiny edging.

If blankets could be hearty, GooseWaddle’s would be the beef stew with crusty bread of blankets. They are thick, warm and they wash well (which is really important, since accidents and sickness happen- a lot). I may or may not have spent Friday night by myself hunkered down on the couch with the full-sized blanket over my lap, as I caught up on the latest Grey’s. I didn’t even need socks! I mean…I may not have needed socks. If that was me, and I did that.

Finally, similar to another favorite brand of mine, TOMS, GooseWaddle has created a “Buy 1, Give 1” campaign. For every GooseWaddle blanket bought, the company donates a receiving blanket to a child in need. So when you wrap your baby up in a cozy GooseWaddle blanket, you can feel even better about it, knowing your purchase helped share the warmth!

The Bad:
GooseWaddle’s blankets are on the pricier side ($65 for the baby blanket), but they are right on par with our Company Store and Pottery Barn Kids blankets in terms of quality, comfort and beauty. In other words, well worth the money spent.

It’s recommended you lay their blankets flat to dry, rather than putting them into the dryer. This is not very convenient when you are looking for a quick turn-around LOL (load of laundry) before naptime. But if it preserves the awesome quality, I suppose it’s a small price to pay.

When trimming the tag with the washing instructions off of the little blankie (since it seemed weird to have a scratchy tag on such a soft blankie), I cut too close to the edge. Without realizing it, I cut a thread from the seam, so the satin edging came apart from the  blanket. A quick run through the sewing machine fixed it, no problem. While it was most definitely my own error, if these instructions had been a part of the removable tag instead, I may not have had this problem.

The Ugly:
There is nothing ugly about these gorgeous blankets! And they come in three colors- blue, pink and white!

Rating (1-Not Good, 2- Okay, 3- Good, 4-Very Good, 5- AMAZING!):
4

And because they are just that good, GooseWaddle is giving away a Blanket and Blankie set to one lucky Keep Calm and Soldier On reader!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*A blanket and blankie set was provided by GooseWaddle for review purposes.