Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chuck E. Cheese - Making Birthday Parties Fun and EASY @chuckecheese

In the five years I've been planning kid parties, this was the EASIEST and MOST FUN we've had yet... and I even made the cake! I even had party guests comment about how fun it was and they were REALLY interested in having parties just like ours.

Our eldest son turned 5 on Christmas Eve, so we always work really hard to keep his birthday special and separate from Christmas. It was so easy to do with Chuck E. Cheese, and they were open all day on Christmas Eve.

The fun and games to be had at Chuck E. Cheese!  
I started by reserving my party time online.  I chose an early time, and got 100 bonus tickets for choosing an off-time.  Once my reservation was finalized (I paid a $30 deposit), I received a call from the Chuck E. Cheese party planner/coordinator at our location.  She was so helpful and thoughtful!  We talked through the party and figured out exactly what I needed to do in order to be ready.  She also called again the day prior to the party.

In most cases, you won't have to really do anything except decide what you want at your party (food, party favors, balloons, etc).  In my case, I wanted to make the cake myself and bring ice cream and a few extras to add to the party favors.

The Candyland Brownie Cake I made for Logan's 5th Birthday!
To see how I made the Candyland Brownie Cake (and the wonderful recipe) click here (coming shortly)

The staff at Chuck E. Cheese made this the easiest party I've ever thrown.  They helped me carry things to the table and set up, then helped keep the party on track, and coordinated bringing out and serving the food and the birthday celebration (Chuck E. coming to our table, singing, cake, etc).  They even made sure everything was going great the whole time we were there, then they took care of the cleanup!

I think my all-time favorite part of this party was that my normally EXTREMELY shy son was so at ease with the staff and Chuck E. that he got up with Chuck E. Cheese (normally he will hide behind me, so this was an unknown territory for us) and even danced with him and did the Ticket Blaster all by himself!  People were AMAZED!  It just goes to show how much fun he had!

As a bonus, Christmas Eve was quieter than normal weekend days at Chuck E. Cheese and we got to stay at our table until we left as there were no parties scheduled after ours that needed the space.

Their website also has great activities and printables, as well as a great coupon page!  We will certainly be doing more events and celebrations (as well as just having some plain old fun lunches/dinners and play) at Chuck E. Cheese!

One other huge plus in my eyes are the security measures Chuck E. Cheese has taken to ensure kids safety: Kid Check.  As you arrive, your hand is stamped with a number that matches the kids you enter with (so make sure you are the one who will be leaving with your kids!).  They will NOT let you leave with a child whose stamp does not match your own.  There is someone at the entrance at all times.

Have you had fun at Chuck E. Cheese?  I hope you'll leave a comment and tell me about it - feel free to leave a link too if you've posted about it!

~ Wendi

*Disclosure: I received some guest passes to help facilitate our birthday party in exchange for sharing our experience with you.  My thoughts and opinions are 100% mine. :)

Reposted from my original blog Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads (and More) in Seattle, some things may have been edited, originally published January, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Perplexus: 3D Puzzle Fun For Your Brain AND Dexterity, GREAT For The Entire Family (And Friends) @Perplexus1

The Perplexus Rookie has been a huge hit in our family, from our 2 year old to grandparents and friends! (Ok, so the 2 year old thinks it is neat and likes to roll it around and watch the little steel ball inside)  Our 5 year old will really concentrate and see how far he can get the steel ball, and what started out with a tiny bit of frustration now provides loads of fun and quiet time.

I have left the Perplexus Rookie on our coffee table and I'm amazed that everyone who picks it up has a blast trying to get the little steel ball as far as they can.  Every now and then I hear numbers being shouted out because people are so thrilled at how far they are getting in the maze.  There are 75 sections of the maze, and some are VERY challenging.  You have to turn and twist the ball just right to keep the ball in the puzzle without having to start over.

Players beware - sometimes the people wanting a turn get a little impatient and they try to see what they can do to get you to drop the ball off the maze so they can have their turn quicker.

This fun 3D puzzle is fun AND it is great for improving dexterity, thinking, problem solving, sharing, quiet-time, providing entertainment at get-togethers, etc.

In the box: You will get a little plastic stand to set the Perplexus Rookie on when it is not being used, and the Perplexus Rookie itself.  The stand keeps the ball from rolling away, and also lets you pause your puzzle as long as no one else comes along to pick it up.

The Perplexus Rookie is a fully enclosed plastic ball that is filled with a 3D puzzle.  The puzzle has a start and finish, with 75 stages in between the two.  The object of the puzzle is to navigate a small steel ball through the maze from start to finish without the ball falling off the maze.

There are two other versions available as well: the Original and the Epic Perplexus!

Perplexus Rookie
Perplexus ~ 6 1/2" in Diameter
Ages 4+ ~ $22.99
Games / Puzzles / 3D

Edition Reviewed: Perplexus Rookie - Review sample received courtesy of the manufacturer, many thanks!

About the Perplexus Rookie:
From the Perplexus Site: Perplexus Rookie introduces you to the world of Perplexus and a whole new realm of perplexity! Perplexus Rookie will develop your skill as you learn to bend, twist and turn your way around the gravity defying barriers. Once you try it, you won’t want to put it down!

From Amazon: Perplexus Rookie will introduce you to the three dimensional, gravity defying world of Perplexus challenges. Flip, twist and turn the sphere to navigate the steel ball along the numbered tracks through 75 barriers of varying difficulty. Perplexus Rookie is easy to play but still challenging to complete. A domed finish keeps the ball in place at the end to secure your success! Fun for the whole family. 6 1/2" in diameter.

About Perplexus: (from the site
The concept behind PERPLEXUS was created by 3-D design teacher Michael McGinnis in the late 1970′s as a project for an art class. Michael envisioned turning his creation into a toy. He had no idea this vision would turn into a decades long odyssey to get the game to market.

After almost 20 years, Michael met the inventors at KID Group, one of the premier inventing houses in the toy industry. They collaborated on the design to make it more suitable for consumers. It was finally ready. The original product was marketed as Superplexus.

Through many twists and turns in the toy industry, Superplexus got tangled up in some changes and ended up being shelved just as it was getting started. But that isn’t the end of the story…

In 2008, a group of enthusiasts contacted KID Group about licensing Superplexus. Busy Life, LLC acquired the rights to Superplexus and launched PERPLEXUS in its current form.

Find Perplexus on Facebook and Twitter

Reposted from my original blog Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads (and More) in Seattle, some things may have been edited, originally published January, 2012

*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Diamond Candles (A Ring in Every Candle) Wonderful Soy Candles With a Special Jewelry Surprise Just For You!

If you haven't burned a Diamond Candle, let me tell you this: It is a wonderful experience... from the beautiful scent, the clean burning candle, and the surprise ring found in each candle (each candle has a surprise ring that you pull out as it burns, and the value ranges from $10, $100, $1,000 and $5,000).

Diamond Candles are soy candles, which burn cleaner and longer than parafin candles, and they are more earth friendly as they are made from soy beans, which are both a renewable resource and biodegradable.

They are available in over 26 scents.  I got to review the Fresh Snow scent which is a combination of peppermint, patchouli and eucalyptus (but I think it smells more like egg nog and sugar cookies).

I let my candle burn for quite a while and at the earliest possible moment, I pulled the ring out of the wax using a wooden chop stick.  The ring was wrapped in foil and laying near the golden seal that you can see from the outside of the glass jar.  I layed it on papertowel and gently opened the foil to reveal a beautiful ring (pictured below).  I'm sure it is one of the $10 rings, but it is still fun and really pretty!

Fresh Snow 21 oz. Candle  
 by Diamond Candles  

 21 oz. Candle  ~ $24.95
 Soy Candle

Edition Reviewed: 21 oz. Fresh Scent Candle - Review sample received courtesy of Diamond Candles, many thanks!

About Diamond Candles:
Soy Candles by Diamond Candles

We are so glad you are here! If you don't know much about us yet we have real rings worth $10, $100, $1,000, or $5,000 in every single earth friendly, all natural soy candle that we make.

The combination of highly fragrant premium quality soy candles, an exciting and fun 'ring reveal' experience (what ring will you find?), and a ring to wear for months and years to come means making something as boring as burning candles in your home something to look forward to.

You can take a tour and learn more about us here, watch some 'ring reveal' videos, or go ahead and take the plunge and get your first soy candle!

-The Diamond Candles Team

Diamond Candles was founded in January of 2011. The founders had a desire to make buying candles fun again, while at the same time, make an attractive and earth friendly candle that you would be excited to use in your home.

There is a ring worth $10, $100, $1,000, or $5,000 in every earth friendly, all natural soy candle we make.

We are coming to a retail shelf near you, but in the meantime you can order directly from our website here.

Once you burn your candle down and find your ring, head over to facebook and upload a photo or video of you and your ring for everyone else to see!

Reposted from my original blog Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads (and More) in Seattle, some things may have been edited, originally published January, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Here is a Great Tool For Kids, Tweens, Teens and Adults - Customizable (And Printable) Chore Charts Online At

We've got a newly turned 5-year-old, and an almost 2-year-old, and I've been trying for some time to get them both on a really good, solid evening routine that covers setting good habbits, responsibilities, reinforcing healthy habbits... you know, put your dirty clothes in the hamper, not on the floor where ever you were when you put your pj's on, floss teeth, brush teeth, put away toys before bed, etc. There are times when I get that routine going really well, and then it seems to fall apart because I get sick, or we have company over or something derails us. UNTIL NOW.

I've just been introduced to the wonderful Chore Charts at, where you can customize chore charts for kids, teens, and gasp - yourself, and they are completely free!

I sat down with Logan and had him help me customize his very own evening chore chart, and here is the top portion of what we came up with:
Top portion of Logan's Evening Chore Chart
He got to customize the heading and choose the "stickers" he put on when he completed each task.  Right now we are tracking our progress online, but I'd like to get a few printed and pick up some stickers so we can hang them on the wall and the boys can put the stickers on themselves.

And the best part?  He so badly wants to be able to put the stickers on the sheet (online and in person, either way makes him happy), that he actively asked me if he could complete the things - this was one of the first times he ASKED to put his pajamas on, brush/floss his teeth, pick up toys, etc.  I am amazed at how quickly and easily this got him on board with establishing a bedtime routine.

Once this routine is established and going well, I'm going to add a morning routine!  This is so great!!

I'm also going to be taking the chore chart a step farther with the help of the online version by having a prize box with different color-coded prizes the boys can choose from based on how many points they earn each week.    The best part is that the online chart can help you assign/track points, so it will be so easy to see where each boy is while earning fun prizes.

This FREE Chore Chart can help teach kids, tweens and teens many important lessons, including:
Responsibility A Chore Chart is an ideal way to help your kids feel like they are making a contribution to their family by doing their part around the house.
Understanding right from wrong; Setting behavior goals is an important way to help children strengthen their character and judgment.
Healthy Habits Teaching good habits involving nutrition and physical activity are the cornerstone of prevent obesity in children and adolescents.
Money Matters The optional point system teaches children three important lessons for managing money; earning, spending and saving.

Not only can I create/edit chore charts for the boys, I can make them for myself. has also given me the ability to create goals and lists that are also trackable/update-able.  You also have the ability to browse other's lists and goals for ideas to use yourself.  I've seen some great organizing and cleaning lists already that I plan to embellish with my own specific tasks.

I hope you will check it out and see what you can do with the tools on the website!  I'd love to see a few more organizing schedules and Spring Cleaning  / Monthly Cleaning Schedules!  If you make one, feel free to come back and leave a message or a link to a post and I'll add it here.  :)

*Disclosure: Mom Select and have sponsored this post, but my opinions are 100% my own and I stand behind them. I'm proud to share this great resource with you!

Reposted from my original blog Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads (and More) in Seattle, some things may have been edited, originally published January, 2012

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