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Groovy Lab in a Box’s January theme!

Pull Your Weight

January’s box is “Pull Your Weight” – and it’s all about pulleys, cranes and Newton’s Third Law. Your STEMists will love channeling their inner mechanical engineer with this box!

Engineering Design Challenge: At the Mars colony, astronauts need machines to build structures and move materials. One of those machines will be a crane. You’ve been tasked to design and build a crane to lift a heavy load.

Monthly boxes from Groovy Lab in a Box sell out very quickly, so be sure to order “Pull Your Weight” today so you don’t miss a groovy thing.


{App review} Behaviors with Friends


Having a special-needs child presents not just the parents but the entire family with a myriad of difficulties. For us personally, we’ve found that an Apple iPad has made a huge difference in helping to distract and calm our eight year old autistic son. Whether we’re at home and he’s in need of a break, or we’re out at a friend’s house or even at the grocery store, his iPad can mean the difference between remaining calm and melting down. We gave Ryan an Apple iPad 2 for his 5th birthday (July 2011), and thus far it’s been the best thing we’ve ever purchased to help address his autism. Thank you, technology!

Ryan has a variety of math, science, and puzzle apps that he greatly enjoys; but he also has a selection of apps that specifically help with social and emotional development. One of the more recent apps we’ve tried out with him is teach2talk‘s Behaviors with Friends. Designed by Sarah Clifford Scheflen and special-needs mother Jenny McCarthy, a speech-language pathologist who works with children, Behaviors with Friends is an interactive app that helps children learn about and understand important social behaviors – including sharing toys and activities with other children, speaking respectfully to adults, and handling difficult emotions and situations. Each “step” in the app plays videos showing examples of various activities, while a narrator and pop-up caterpillar explain the situation, point out helpful insights, and ask questions of the child using the app. Easy questions are asked to help children further understand each important component of the app – for instance, the app asks children if Jesse, a child shown taking a toy from two other children, made the right choice or the wrong choice. Then, the app highlights why it’s important to make a good choice (ask instead of just taking), and asks about feelings.

Behavior with Friends App

Along every step of the way, Behaviors with Friends provides plenty of positive reinforcement – words of encouragement, motivating music, and cute animations.
And with each successful step of the app completed, a sticker is earned. Stickers are stored in a Sticker Book, which can be opened any time for display, as well as fun rearrangement!

Key components Behaviors with Friends addresses with children:

Behavior with Friends App

Behavior with Friends App

More about the developers:
teach2talk creates education resources for children, with an emphasis on innovative as well as improved existing products that help with the development of speech, language, playing, and social skills. Sarah Clifford Scheflen and Jenny McCarthy founded teach2talk. Scheflen is a pediatric clinical speech-language pathologist who works with special-needs children, and McCarthy is an author, actress, comedian, and producer, as well as mother to a special-needs child.

As parents, teachers, and professionals alike have found, video modeling is often an excellent way to help children with developmental delays and disabilities to learn essential social and coping skills, and to learn how to interact with other children as well as adults – and this is what Behaviors with Friends is all about. The app offers an Easy mode for younger children, as well as a Normal mode for older children, or children who would like to explore the app with the assistance of an adult. Videos within the app can be paused at any time, and progress is regularly saved to ensure no achievements or stickers are lost.

Behaviors with Friends is available on the Apple iTunes Store for $. Learn more about Behaviors with Friends by following teach2talk on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post for teach2talk but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Category: Reviews


Fun Ways to Find a Prom Dress

Who says prom dress shopping has to be boring? Of course, prom dress shopping can be a lengthy and somewhat frustrating process, so it’s entirely understandable if you decide to leave your mother, significant other, and/or friends at home; but feel free to grab your favorite drink, some snacks, your favorite tunes, and hit the town – here are a few great ideas for finding a prom dress that don’t involve stepping into an overpriced department store.

Shop online.

Drop the car keys and pick up a computer mouse. A quick search for Prom Dresses UK 2015 should yield plenty of results that will include round-ups of the latest must-have prom dresses for the 2015 season. Shopping online is convenient because you can do it anytime, from anywhere; you can also further narrow results via specific keywords and website-specific filters to find dresses that fit certain criteria – prom dresses for winter, for example; or plus-sized prom dresses.

Go thrifting.

Who says a prom dress has to be brand spanking new with the tags still attached? Hit up bridal boutiques and consignment shops and head straight for the used racks. You’d be surprised at the number of prom gowns that are purchased, worn once — or perhaps not even worn at all, beyond a quick try-on in a dressing room — and then dumped at a thrift shop. You may be able to find deeply discounted prom dresses that’ll leave much more in your budget than you were counting on.

Make it vintage.

Look for old fashioned prom dresses from decades past, and coordinate cosmetics, jewelry, and hairstyle accordingly. Yes, you’ll certainly look out of place, but that’s because you’ll be a breathtaking vision from another era altogether.

Borrow…and beg.

Rummage through the closets and wardrobes of mothers, sisters, and other older female relatives – and even female friends. Ask around in your community – you’d be surprised at the number of neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances who wouldn’t mind loaning you a prom dress.

Get crafty.

If you know how to sew, or know someone who does, take the time to check out cut-outs for custom-sewn prom dresses, and make your own! You’ll need plenty of material, plenty of thread and needles, a sewing machine, and a lot of patience, but the outcome of sewing your own prom dress is a positive one: you’ll have a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind prom dress that will turn plenty of heads and make plenty of positive, memorable statements on your special night.


Dyson DC65 Animal Complete

Dyson logo

The Dyson brand is well-known in the world of vacuums, and its founder, James Dyson, has worked hard to get the brand to where it is today. Dyson (the person, not the brand) can trace his history with vacuums back to his childhood, when he began showing an interested in pulling things apart and putting them back together again – simply because he wanted to know why and how things worked. While in college, Dyson helped to develop a high-speed landing craft, a special ballbarrow (like a wheelbarrow, but with a ball instead of the traditional wheel), a ball-based boat launcher, and even a wheel-based boat. It wasn’t long after that Dyson turned his attention to creating a vacuum that would be free of bags and clogs – and thus, in 1993, the famous and world-renowned Dyson brand of vacuums was born. Read more about the Dyson Difference.

Over twenty years later the Dyson brand is still going strong — and continuing to grow! — and here’s why:

Dyson Ball technology

The holiday season may be over, but spring is coming up soon, and now is the perfect time to consider giving yourself something great to jump-start your plans for spring organization and cleaning: a Dyson! Ditch the bulky and overpriced bags, the heavy, non-versatile straight-path-only vacuum cleaners, and loads of attachments in favor of one unit that will do it all: a Dyson. Dyson’s vacuums are free of carbon, they run on digital motors that spin up to 98,000 RPM (that’s five times faster than a modern Indy car engine, if you’re looking for a relative comparison), and with cyclone technology and a ball foundation, you’ll easily remove even the most microscopic pieces of dirt from your home while easily pivoting around corners and furniture.

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete

This past holiday season was a joyous one for my domesticated side, as Dyson generously gifted me with the Dyson DC65 Animal Complete. In my opinion, no house that is called home by humans and pets alike is going to stay as clean as it has the potential to be without the DC65 Animal Complete. We have been a multi-cat household for many years, and in addition to anywhere from five to seven cats at a time we also have a dog – a Pug who sheds probably her body weight in fur at least once per month. We’ve gone through many vacuums, including several commercial-strength ones like the Rainbow, yet no matter how often we vacuumed, dust, dander, and fur still remained on the carpets, on our furniture, on our clothing, and in the air. We even removed the wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room and main hallway of our home in an attempt to cut down on the “resting places” for fur and dander, but still battled the build-up of it on furniture and in the bedrooms.

Then the DC65 Animal Complete came into our lives.

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete features:

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete
Dyson DC65 Animal Complete components: vacuum, handle, brush attachments

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete
Quick Start Guide: basically, attach the carpet brush, handle, and bin, and you’re ready to go!

Dyson D65 Animal Complete
Rear hose – all brushes attach to this piece

Dyson isn’t kidding when they advertise this upright vacuum as providing the strongest suction and highest geometric results on combined floor types and in nooks and crannies without tangles, caught-up balls of fur, or any loss of suction. The first time I used the DC65 Animal Complete was just a few hours after I had vacuumed our entire house with our Rainbow vacuum. Despite that recent vacuuming, the DC65 Animal Complete managed to pick up nearly half of a canister full of fur and dirt from our living room carpet, and then nearly three-quarters of a canister worth of gunk from our bedroom carpets! The suction was incredible: while other vacuums seem to “glide” over our carpets, I could really feel the DC65 Animal Complete suctioning to the carpets and pulling itself along – and of course pulling up plenty of ground-in dirt and matted-up fur along the way. I’ll spare you the grossness of photos, but let’s just say that six cats (two of whom are long-haired Persians) and one Pug manage to generate a lot of fur, and that the Rainbow did a sad job of picking it up in comparison to what the DC65 Animal Complete managed to get.

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete
Dyson’s Zorb Carpet Maintenance Powder: one bag was just enough for three bedrooms + our living room’s area rug

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete
Dyson Tool Storage Bag

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete

Dyson DC65 Animal Complete

The Dyson DC65 Animal Complete is normally priced at $649.99, but until January 31st it’s on sale for just $487.50, and it ships for free! Grab this baby before the sale is over, and enjoy incredibly clean carpets, upholstery, vents, and all the nooks and crannies that dirt will no longer be able to hide in!

Check out all of Dyson’s amazing products at; and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.

Rating: ★★★★★

Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for my honest opinion.

Category: Reviews


5 Tips for Picking a Fashionable Prom Dress

2015 is almost here, which means now’s the perfect time to put down the candy canes and New Year’s hats in favor of beginning the early planning for your 2015 prom. While prom may be several months away, giving yourself plenty of time to plan and shop means being able to make well-thought out decisions, and not being rushed into a purchase that you might later regret.

Keeping up with the latest fashions extends to prom dresses 2015. In many societal circles, prom is a very big event, just about on par with formal coming-out balls and sweet sixteen birthday parties. Fashion designers are always looking for the next big thing with prom gowns – whether it be a particular length of the skirt, the cut of the corset, or simply the colors and materials used in putting together the whole gown. Keeping up with what designers are up to via subscriptions to fashion magazines and websites is an excellent start to making sure you stay current with the latest and hottest trends.

Without further ado, here are five nearly-foolproof tips that’ll help you find a hot, fashion-statement-making dress for your prom:

Consult the magazines.

The first go-to for hot prom dresses should be fashion magazines. From bridal magazines to bridal catalogs, to general fashion magazines and even celebrity mags, if you’re looking for a source for the latest fashions and must-haves right off the rack, these magazines are it.

Talk to your hairstylist.

Believe it or not, your hairstylist doesn’t just work with hair – she also works with makeup, jewelry and hair accessory coordination, and general recommendations for what to or not to wear. Subsequently, she’ll know a lot about what’s currently trending with prom dresses and other formal gowns.

Watch the fashion shows.

Fashion shows like “Project Runway” and “Trash the Dress” are great sources of inspiration, laughter, second-hand embarrassment, but most importantly for you, insight into what the designers are making and what the celebrities and fashionistas of the world are wearing.

Subscribe to fashion store newsletters.

Those periodic emailed and mailed newsletters and other subscription materials from department stores and online boutiques are an excellent source for what’s newly arrived on the racks – and what you’ll want to make sure you get your hands on.

Hire a designer.

If you can afford it, and you don’t mind the extra wait, consider hiring a fashion designer. She will not only create a one-of-a-kind prom dress for you, but she’ll also take a lot of the research and guess work off your shoulders, as this is her expertise and thus her responsibility to take care of.


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