Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This past week…

It’s been quiet on the blog.  Sorry!  Hopefully I can get back in the swing of things in a few more days.

In the past week, we’ve had a baptism party, Nana’s funeral, three birthday parties, and now I’ve been almost completely knocked down by the flu.  72 hours with a temperature over 100 is not any fun at all, in case you wondered!  Hopefully it will let up soon!

I’m thankful for a wonderful family who helps out where they can  & puts up with the lump of Mommy who has taken over the couch all week!  I don’t remember EVER being as miserable as I am this week, and it’s taken pretty much everything out of me.  Our kids had flu shots last fall, so I’m hoping they’ll be spared from this one!

This post isn’t meant to be a complaint – just an explanation of where I’ve been, and a promise that I’ll come back just as soon as my temp reads 98.6 again!  Below are a few quick cell phone pictures of our week.

Dawn


visiting Nana’s grave

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cousin Cailin’s birthday party

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Jensyn’s birthday party
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nana

My husband’s 94 year old grandma (Nana to our kids) went home to Jesus yesterday morning.   We’re sorting through pictures, so I thought I’d share a few in memory of this sweet, wonderful lady.   We love you, Nana!

AlexAlex February 2008 093
Max
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Jensyn
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Kyle, Alex, and Jessica
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at Max’s 4th birthday party
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Christmas Dinner at CCV
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Nana’s 94th Birthday Celebration in February
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Christmas 2012
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Keith and his Grandma (2010?)
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Halloween 2012
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Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: Roy Toy Classic Log Building Set

It’s the time of year when homeschoolers attend conventions and begin to think about the coming school year.  We’ve picked our curriculum for next year (Heart of Dakota’s “Beyond” program for Alex), and much of it centers around early American history. 

In online forums, many moms suggested that a log building set makes the history portion of Beyond really come alive for their children!  I loved this idea, and I began to search online.  As I looked at the prices and the reviews, I was disappointed to see that the most well-known brand is now made in China.  The price is high, and (judging by the reviews) the quality is not as great as it used to be.

No thank you!  Scratch that plan.  I began to look into alternative companies, coming across a company called Roy Toy.  Their products are made in the USA, use safe and non-toxic food grade dyes, and are very fairly priced.

Roy Toy, Lincoln Logs, made in the USA, building blocks

Roy Toy produced its first sets in the 1930s, and they continued to offer quality products until the 1960s.  The owner, Roy Dennison, passed away at that time, and production was discontinued.  His grandson, Bruce Dennison, re-established the business in 1992.  You can read the history of this family owned company to find out more about their dedication to providing safe, fun, classic toys for children.

After visiting the Roy Toy website repeatedly for days, I finally worked up the courage to  email Roy Toy and see if they would be willing to offer me a set in exchange for a review.  I received a quick response from the company, and within a week, we were the excited new owners of a 250 Piece Deluxe Building Set.  This set retails for $49.99.

roy toy, lincoln logs, made in the USA, building set

The set arrived nicely packaged, with the blocks neatly stored inside of a strong canvas bag with a rope tie.   Our three little reviewers were SO excited to see what was inside of the bag. 

Lincoln Logs, Roy Toy, made in the USA, non-toxic, wood blocks

Oh, that beautiful scent of pine when you open the bag is amazing!  We explored the contents, and once the kids understood the concept, they were ready to BUILD!  They wanted to build the exact structures shown in the directions, which required assistance from Mom and Dad.    I’m so glad, as this turned into a fun family afternoon!

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The Deluxe Building Set includes instructions for building a log cabin, a farm (barn and silo), and a tree house.  These are pictorial instructions on one 8.5x11 paper.   We chose to laminate it for durability. 

These instructions were too challenging for our young kids, and even my husband and I had to look very carefully to make sure we had the correct pieces for each set.  Once we began to recognize the large variety of log options, we were able to build more efficiently.  We were also able to help the 6 and 4 year olds learn to distinguish the different log sizes and different notches, and they were able to hand us the correct pieces as we built.

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You may have noticed that we placed our blocks in a clear, plastic tub.  We started with the blocks piled on the floor, but after the blocks had been spread across the floor and stepped on multiple times, we decided it was best to keep them contained yet easy to see. 

Mommy and Jensyn (2) built the log cabin together.  It took me a few tries to get the correct pieces, as I hadn’t yet noticed the different notches in some of the blocks.  After a time, I caught on, and we completed our cabin.  You can see Jensyn adding the green roof pieces below, which was a perfect task for a two year old.

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Daddy and the boys built the tree house fort together.  Alex (6) was very excited to build the ladder all by himself, and Max (4) happily built the roof.

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This tree house led to so much fun, imaginative play!  The boys built a ‘slide’ using green blocks, and their characters happily climbed the ladder, played in the tree house, and slid back down to the ground.  (This is NOT a staged picture – my boys played with HUGE grins on their faces!)

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The next day, Max (4) asked me to help him build the farm and silo.  With my guidance, he was able to do most of the building himself.  He also built some pens for the farm animals, which made him very proud.   You can be sure that our toy farm animals will be visiting this farm!

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Roy Toy products are made in the U.S.A – Maine, to be precise – of U.S. pine wood.  They are stained with food approved dyes, and their website makes it clear that the dyes contain no major allergens.  The logs are smoothly sanded to protect little fingers.

This set contains enough pieces to build the tree house, cabin, barn, and silo all at the same time!  This means there are plenty of pieces for two or three children to play together – which is important in our home.  With all of the pieces, it’s easy for the kids to use their imagination, make their own structures, and have tons of fun with this set!

We are very impressed with this product, and it’s quite likely that we will purchase more products from Roy Toy in the future.  Looking through the brochures that we received with our building set, my boys and I found many building sets that look fun!

If I *had* to name some flaws in the product, I wouldn’t be able to make a long list.  Here’s all I can find:

1) I wish the instruction sheet was a little more precise, with step-by-step pictures to simplify the building process for young children.  I don’t think my kids could build the exact structures independently by following the instructions.
 
2) The green roof pieces lay on top nicely, but we always found a bit of a gap at the top of the roof.   If you add an extra roof piece, the top buckles.  It isn’t a big deal to our kids.  I don’t think they even noticed, to be honest, but you will likely have a small opening at the top of your structures.  I just think it’s worth noting for the perfectionists who might come across this review.

Roy Toy offers a wide variety of building toys that are made in the U.S.A.   The sets range in price from $9.95 to $89.00.  Currently, they are offering free shipping on all orders over $25.

Below you’ll see that Roy Toy offers a huge variety of building toys on their website.  Be prepared to drool over these – my kids & I sure did!

Deluxe Sets, stored in a canvas bag



Classic Sets, stored in a traditional canister

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Wood-Links sets, stored in a sturdy plastic tub
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Earth-Friendly sets with smoothly sanded pieces

Build And Paint sets

If you’re looking for a creative, battery-free, made in the U.S.A toy for your children, I would HIGHLY recommend Roy Toy!  These toys promote thinking skills and imagination, and they are sure to help you build many happy memories with your children!

Many of our toys leave the house after a year or two, but this Roy Toy building set is one of the few toys that I plan to keep for the long haul.  Even after our kids outgrow this set, I will still gladly keep this fun classic set on-hand for visiting friends! 

Disclaimer: I received this free product in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review or compensated in any other way.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Special thanks to Roy Toy for generously sharing the 250 Piece Deluxe Building Set!

*new* Under The Sea Preschool Pack and GIVEAWAY!

 

Here’s what I’ve been squeezing into the free moments in the past 2 months! 
I just adore these graphics from KPM Doodles!

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This pack, available on Teachers Notebook for $2, contains 32 pages (3 intro/instruction pages and 29 activity pages) for children ages 3 – 5.  You’ll find a wide variety of pages for letter recognition, letter sounds, simple math skills, colors, and more!


There’s a GIVEAWAY on my Facebook page
through Sunday, April 6, 2014.

To enter:
1) SHARE this post on your Facebook page *and*
2) Leave a comment on the Facebook post to let me know you shared it.

I will choose 5 winners on Sunday evening,
using the comments and a random number generator.


Here are some sample pages from the pack:


bibleversecolor bookletmagnet page3color by numbercount and colorfinish the pattern (new)Ff handwritingfindandstamp b&wpuzzle cardsten part puzzle 2