Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!



Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.

~George Herbert

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

K'NEX Building Sets Product Review & Make a K'NEXion Contest

I'm a huge advocate of open-ended toys, the kind of toys that encourage imagination and allow children to make their own creations with no right or wrong solutions. When children think for themselves they gain valuable life skills and also feel a sense of accomplishment. Building blocks and construction toys are classic examples of open-ended toys. Building activities help develop motor skills, strengthen spacial awareness and encourage problem solving.

The K'NEX brand of construction toys foster open-ended play. Kids can play with the sets for hours on end and construct in endless ways. Thanks to Team Mom and K'NEX we recently had the chance to try out two different K'NEX products.

My children were very excited to receive the Police Station Building Set from the K'NEX Sesame Street Neighborhood Collection Line. The set gives children the opportunity to recreate and build their own version of a Sesame Street police station complete with a stop-light and stop sign and even includes two buildable characters, Elmo and policeman Ernie. The set is recommended for ages 2-5.

Directions are supplied for the police station depicted on the cover, but my kids prefer to free build and pretend play with the two characters. My toddler son especially enjoys the two windows that open and close. My toddler son can also put two blocks together and disassemble the station. He really enjoyed playing and pretending together with Mommy and his big sister. My preschool daughter really likes the characters and making up pretend situations and conversations. The chunky, larger sized blocks work with other brands like DUPLO and Mega Bloks so my kids often build larger creations and add to their police station using other block sets that we already own.

The complete Kid K'NEX Sesame Street Neighborhood Collection line includes 4 separate sets: Ice Cream Truck Building Set, Police Car Building Set, 1-2-3 Brownstone Building Set and Police Station Building Set.




The K'NEX 400 Piece Value Tub is a multi-model building set meant for older children, ages 7 and up. The tub includes hundreds of small pieces and parts perfect for building small-medium size creations. K'NEX model building sets include bricks, rods, various funny shaped connectors and wheels that can be used to build both 2-D and 3-D models. The parts all snap together in many different ways and allow for movement so that kids can make interactive items like spinning merri-go-rounds and rolling vehicles. The blocks also work with other building sets like Lego.

My kids are too young to play with this set, but I sat down and tried to construct a house out of some of the K'NEX pieces. Building with this set takes patience and engineering skills. It took me a half an hour to build a relatively simple house frame! The set does come with a instruction book with ideas for 20 different models. I'd recommend that beginners try to build one of the models in the book first so that they can get a feel for the different pieces and how they work together. The storage tub is large enough to store finished creations and keep partially finished projects safe. My brother owned several K'NEX sets as a child and still loves playing with them, making complicated designs. I remember one time he tried to build a large ferris wheel, but I'm not sure if he ever finished that project. Like I said, these K'NEX sets require a great deal patience. Parents and children can build together. It's a great bonding opportunity.

Right now K'NEX is sponsoring a “Make a K’NEXion” Video Contest. Parents can videotape their child building with select K'NEX building products and enter the competition. The ten best videos will get featured on KNEX.com and the winning video creator will receive $1,000 worth of K’NEX Toys. Official rules PDF: http://knex.com/pdfs/video-contest-rules.pdf. The contest ends 12/7/09, so start building soon!

On the K'NEX site you can also enter to win a Sesame Street building set for your child or tickets to Sesame Place. Visit http://www.knex.com/sesame-street-building-sets/online-campaign.php. Ends 12/31/09


Thanks to K'NEX and Team Mom for this review opportunity and for providing two free K'NEX sets for my family to review. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Wordless Wednesday - Book Fair Time




My daughter's school held a Scholastic book fair last week. I spent some time volunteering at it. I found it interesting to watch what the kids and parents/grandparents purchased. Many of the kids just wanted the toys! I'm still conflicted about toys being sold at the book fair. It just doesn't seem right, but toys do generate more money for the fundraiser. What are your thoughts?


Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom or Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November Winners on Brimful Curiosities

Just in time for Thanksgiving, another month's worth of winners. The bounty is great - Happy Thanksgiving! As always, all winners have or will be contacted by email. After the initial email they have 72 hours to get back to me before another winner is chosen. (Click on the image to enlarge the Random.org numbers.) Thanks so much for visiting Brimful Curiosities. I appreciate your comments!

Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

The Grand Prize Winner is Anonymous (bgcchs) (comment #14). Other winners are Ardy22 (comment #77), judybrittle (comment #48), lilyk (comment #75), and Winning Readings (comment #51)


Kaskey Kids Sports Guys Action Figure set

The winner is zachsgran (comment #62).


Fawlty Towers Remastered: Special Edition DVD box set

The winner is Angela G (comment #111).


Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin, illustrated by Zachary Pullen

The winners are JK (comment #25), shopannies (comment #42) and Desiree (comment #21)


America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Mike Benny


The winners are rubynreba (comment #6), JK (comment #33) and Katy (comment #29)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sante Fe Flyer Train Set by Bachmann Trains - Holiday Product Review


Every year my husband and I go toy shopping for Christmas and every year he stops in front of the toy trains and looks wistfully at the sets. He owned an electric train set when he was a child and looking at the displays brings back fond childhood memories. Even I have memories regarding trains. My brother received one for Christmas and he and my dad spent hours setting up the tracks on a plywood base.

Model trains, a classic Christmas toy, can be found circling around Christmas trees all over the world during the holiday season. Holiday train shows and special museum exhibits featuring antique and modern electric toy trains draw excited crowds. Some even collect model trains as a hobby and join model railroad train clubs. Enjoyed by both young and old, assembling model train sets bond multiple generations together and often the assembly becomes a yearly tradition. Toy trains have stood the test of time, with the earliest toy trains dating back to the 19th century.


Bachmann Trains is a leading provider of electric train sets. We recently had the chance to try out one of their models, the Santa Fe Flyer Train Set. An HO-scale train (the most popular scale of model railway), this complete and ready-to-run set is a good beginners electric train set. The set includes the following:
• EMD FT diesel locomotive with all-wheel drive and operating headlight
• Three cars: Hopper, Gondola and Caboose
• 11 pieces of snap-fit E-Z track
• 1 curved plug-in terminal rerailer track
• Power pack and speed controller
• Illustrated instruction manual

My husband assembled the track on our carpet within five minutes. With the included track pieces you can construct a 36" circle. It took some skill to place the locomotive correctly on the track, aligning all the wheels properly. After plugging in the power pack, the train did not operate at first. He had to realign the locomotive over the rerailer track before the train would run. The other cars easily coupled together with the locomotive and were also easier to place on the track. The dial speed controller goes from 0-100 and also includes a directional switch. Once we got the locomotive on the track we had no problems operating the train using the speed dial. Our children watched the assembly with excitement and anticipation. Watching closely my husband even allowed them to turn the dial to make the train speed up. The train traveled smoothly on the track without derailing until my toddler decided that he wanted it to stop and knocked it off the track!



This Sante Fe Flyer set is recommended for ages 8 and up. This isn't a set for toddlers, preschoolers or young children. The assembly requires patience and care, the set includes small parts and the cars are not build to withstand too much abuse (although my toddler did forcefully knock the engine off the track twice and the set held-up to his destructive actions). The wheels pop off easily with little force and care must be taken when removing the cars from the package. Fortunately, the wheels also easily pop back on when they do fall off. I'm not sure that the track provided with this set would be enough to install around our Christmas tree. Luckily, extra HO track is easily obtainable. Also, in order to maneuver around the electrical cords from the Christmas tree lights, we would need to purchase a bridge. The trains are fairly detailed and the diesel locomotive features a distinctive "war bonnet" paint scheme. This HO set is very similar to the one my husband owned as a child. Responsible, older children should love playing with this small, affordable starter set (it can be purchased for around $50). I know my husband enjoyed playing with the electric train! We'll probably set it up more frequently once our children get a little older. :)

If you are looking for a Christmas train, Bachmann also manufactures a train called the Yuletide Special. The company also sells a Thomas and Friends line of trains for Thomas the Tank Engine fans. Bachmann trains are available from several retailers including Amazon.com, Walmart, Toys'R'Us, Barnes and Noble and multiple hobby stores.

Related links:
Bachmann Trains - the website shows all products and includes a discussion board

Santa Fe Southern Railway - website discusses history of the southern railway

National Model Railroad Association - This large organization promotes the model railroading hobby and the website has a comprehensive guide to model railroading perfect for beginners. And especially exciting news for those of us in Wisconsin - The National Model Railroad Association will host its 75th Anniversary Convention in Milwaukee, WI on July 11-18, 2010. The convention will include a HUGE train show. Sounds like fun!

World's Greatest Hobby - A downloadable model railroading guide booklet is available there.

Thanks to Bachmann Trains for this review opportunity and for providing a free train set for my family to review. I am an Amazon affliate and receive a very small commission for products purchased through my links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (11/23/09)

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday I will not post a Full to the Brim list this Friday 11/27. Still plenty of contests to enter from the previous posts.

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I typically publish "Full to the Brim" every Monday and Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!


My Book Related Giveaways (see sidebar for all giveaways):

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/23/09
America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/23/09
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King / The Christmas Magic [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/30/09
Love, Elmo by Meg McLaughlin [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/30/09
$30 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway Ends 12/7/09 (Could use this for book purchases)

Other book giveaways:
Look What Mom Found... - Book Giveaway Ends 12/13/09
Klutz The Encyclopedia of Immaturity Volume 1 & 2
Ramblings of a Bibliophile - Book Giveaway Ends 12/16/09
Huge YA Book Giveaway
Tara's View on Books - Book Giveaway Ends 12/3/09
Tiny Baby Jesus by Dandi Daley Mackall
Susan Heim on Parenting - Book Giveaway Ends 12/6/09
Miss Trimble’s Trapdoor and Miss Trimble’s Trapdoor: The Perseverance of Christopher Columbus by Lori Jordan-Rice (middle grade)
An Island Life - Book Giveaway Ends 11/24/09
Curious George Prize Pack: A Very Monkey Christmas DVD, Curious George Christmas Countdown book, CD soundtrack, and a “Curious George Live” ticket voucher
Ramblings by Nicole - Book Giveaway Ends 12/2/09
Choice of Usborne book
Guessing all the Way - Book Giveaway Ends 12/1/09
The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson with pictures by Jon J. Muth and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King illustrated by Gail de Marcken
The Joy of Children's Literature - Book Giveaway Ends 12/4/09
The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson with pictures by Jon J. Muth and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King illustrated by Gail de Marcken
Kidz - Book Giveaway Ends 11/29/09
The Snowman's Song: A Christmas Story by Marilee Joy Mayfield
Muse Reviews - Book Giveaway Ends 11/26/09
An Amelia Bedelia Celebration: Four Stories Tall
Reading to Know - Book Giveaway Ends 11/29/09
Tiger Tales books: My Favorite Michael and A Magical Christmas
The Mommy-Files - Book Giveaway Ends 12/6/09
Babalu Inc.: The Felt-Tales or WJ Fantasy product
Mamma Mia - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
LeapFrog Tag Junior Book Pal and two books
Conversations with Moms - Book Giveaway Ends 12/6/09
Curious George Prize Pack: A Very Monkey Christmas DVD, Curious George Christmas Countdown book, CD soundtrack, and a “Curious George Live” ticket voucher
Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns - Book Giveaway Ends 11/26/09
Bob Books (Set 1)


Other giveaways:

Mommy Niri - DVD Giveaway Ends 11/29/09
Curious George “A Very Monkey Christmas” DVD


Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Walmart's $20 Thanksgiving Meal for 8 and Gift Card Giveaway




With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I've already begun my preparations. This year I'm hosting not one but TWO Thanksgiving dinners in my home. That's a lot of turkey! I'm hoping my meals will turn out as delicious as the feasts my mom has always prepared. Both my grandmother and mother are talented cooks and bakers, so I have some big shoes to fill. Thanksgiving is truly a special holiday for us filled with wonderful traditions. Usually we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving parade and a little football. We gather together and give thanks for all of our blessings. And of course there is the food: the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce and numerous pies and treats.

This year Walmart wants to help families serve up delicious holiday meals without the worry of overspending their budget. They've rolled back their food prices and have announced that consumers can prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for as low as $20. According to their website, the scrumptious $20 feast includes the following (see http://connect.walmart.com/holidaymeals/ for complete details):

* One 12-pound Grade A turkey
* Three 11 to 15.5-ounce cans Green Giant vegetables
* Two 14-ounce cans Ocean Spray cranberry sauce
* Three 6-ounce boxes of Stove Top stuffing
* One 5-pound bag of red potatoes
* One 12-count package of Sara Lee dinner rolls
* One 22-ounce pumpkin roll cake

I've seen some great food deals advertised this week, so I'm sure that I'll be able to save quite a bit of money on my grocery bill with some frugal shopping. I'm a regular user of Walmart's Ad Match policy where they match local competitor's prices. I've also spotted quite a few coupon deals on the following websites:

Campbell's Soups and French’s® French Fried Onions
Libby's Vegetables
Pillsbury/Green Giant/Progresso

By the way, after browsing Walmart's website, I noticed they have a Food & Recipe center. Who knew? After a quick search I discovered several Turkey recipes including, Apricot-Onion Roasted Turkey, Brined Hickory Turkey, and Lemon-Herb Turkey Roast. This holiday season the site will also post some great recipes from the Food Network’s Melissa d’Arabians.

And don't forget those photos with Santa. Last year our local Walmart had a couple special days when Santa visited and they gave out free photos with Santa. I took my daughter and was very pleased with the results. You can bet we'll go back this year!


Thanks to Walmart and Mom Central, I'm giving away two (2) $30 Walmart Giftcards to Brimful Curiosities readers to help make your holidays a little brighter. 2 WINNERS!

To enter, leave a comment telling me about one of your favorite holiday traditions.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US only
• Contest ends on Monday, December 7th, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random
Four ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 5 - leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Leave a comment with a great food coupon deal you found online. I'll add it to my list above.
2nd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
3rd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
4th extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Walmart. In addition, I received a $30 Walmart gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate, and I will donate the gift card to our local food pantry. I also received two $30 gift cards to offer as a giveaway. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Busytown Mysteries series on CBS / Richard Scarry books


“I’m not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten. I am very happy when people write that they have worn out my books, or that they are held together by Scotch tape. I consider that the ultimate compliment.” - Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry's books get plenty of attention in our home. Let's just say we have one of those taped together books of his, well loved and read often. See the photo to the right-case in point! Every time the kids and I read one of his books we discover something new. Scarry's books contain so much detail and the his animal character illustrations are darling. Our favorites include Huckle Cat, Sally Cat, Lowly Worm and, of course, that sneaky Goldbug. We never get tired of searching for Goldbug.

The books have been translated into 30 languages over the last 40 years and over 150 million copies have been sold. Now, kids can watch their favorite characters in the new TV series Busytown Mysteries. The series, produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment, just starting airing on weekends on CBS. (Check here for local air times.) Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm, along with other friends try to solve mysteries in Busytown. They search for clues, ask the questions and use their reasoning skills - who, what, when, where, why, how? The episodes feature 2-D animation and the characters look like they've walked off the pages of Scarry's books.

Thanks to One2One network we received two episodes to review:
"The Falling Fruit Mystery" - Huckle and friends try to figure out why the cherries have fallen down from farmer Patrick's tree.
"The Dragon Hunters" - There are reports of a fire-breathing dragon in Busytown. Huckle and friends investigate to find out the truth."

As soon as I started playing the episodes, my preschool daughter excitedly exclaimed, "Hey, I have those books!" She pointed out Goldbug and Lowly Worm and a few of her other favorite characters. She watched both episodes all the way through and then decided that she wanted to solve mysteries, too. The series is a huge hit with her and we are planning to look for it tomorrow morning on our local CBS station.

We also took some time to check out the interactive Busytown Mysteries website at http://www.busytownmysteries.com. Kids can choose their favorite character, pick a Busytown car and travel around Busytown visiting the countryside, wharf, park and downtown. My daughter's favorite activity is planting and watering flowers in the garden. This website is great fun for pre-schoolers and allows them to explore Busytown and interact with the characters.

After using the website and watching the TV series, I'm sure children want to revisit their favorite Richard Scarry books. Make sure to have a few in your home for them to read if they do choose to watch the series!

Thanks to One2One network for this review opportunity and for providing a free DVD of the television series for my family to review. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (11/20/09)

Must be getting close to the holidays. The list is quite large today. Have fun browsing!

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I publish "Full to the Brim" every Monday and Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!

Fish for more children's book giveaways at Lori Calabrese's Fish for a Free Book linkup each Friday


My Book Related Giveaways (see sidebar for all giveaways):

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/23/09
America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/23/09
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King / The Christmas Magic [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/30/09
Love, Elmo by Meg McLaughlin [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/30/09

Other book giveaways:
Monsters in My House - Book Giveaway Ends 11/20/09
The Monster Who Ate Darkness book along with Fearless Fred and a special treat of Monster Eyeball cookies
Grandma Lizzie's House - Book Giveaway Ends 12/2/09
Book by Karma Wilson
Amanda - Book Giveaway Ends 12/2/09
The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson; My Little Polar Bear by Claudia Rueda; The Snow Day by Komako Sakai
FF&D - Book Giveaway Ends 11/20/09
Cheerios Spoonful of Stories Prize Pack
Mkokopelli - Book Giveaway Ends 11/29/09
Little Green Books: The Adventures of an Aluminum Can and The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle
Mkokopelli - Book Giveaway Ends 11/29/09
Little Green Book:Santa Claus Is Green
Medicated Mama - Book Giveaway Ends 11/23/09
The Marvelous Toy Book with CD by Tom Paxton; Illustrated by Steve Cox
512 Kidz - Book Giveaway Ends 11/21/09
The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree
Tara's View on Books - Book Giveaway Ends 12/2/09
Barefoot Books: Driving My Tractor
A Frugal Friend - Book Giveaway Ends 11/24/09
FOUR (4) books in The Berenstain Bears Living Lights series
Three Peas in a Pod - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
Klutz Fancy Friendship Bracelets
Craftzine.com blog - Book Giveaway Ends 11/22/09
Alex Rider: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz
Complicated Mama - Book Giveaway Ends 11/25
Nutcracker and The Christmas Magic
It's a Woman's World - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
The Zoopendous Surprise by Boots Hensel
Mommy's Quiet Time - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
Big Thoughts for Little People (ABC’s to help you grow)
Out of the Blue - Book Giveaway Ends 12/6/09
A book of your choice, for a value of up to €12 at BookDepository
J. Kaye's Book Blog - Book Giveaway Ends 11/28/09
JULIE ANDREWS' COLLECTION OF POEMS, SONGS, AND LULLABIES audiobook
Things Moms Like - Book Giveaway Ends 11/27/09
Choose Your Own Adventure Prize Pack (early / middle grade)
AuthorsNow! - Book Giveaway Ends 11/24/09
Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French (middle grade)
AuthorsNow - Book Giveaway Ends 11/24/09
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (YA)
Craftster.org - Gift Certificate Giveaway Ends 12/8/09
$150 gift certificate to Klutz.com
Teach with Picture Books - Book Giveaway Ends ??
A Calendar Of Festivals: Celebrations From Around The World
Book Trends - Book Giveaway Ends 11/23/09
The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett
5 Vinez Monkeys - Book Giveaway Ends 12/6/09
Penny and Rio: The Locked Doghouse Mystery
Mommy PR - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
The Gift of the Inuksuk


Borders $100 Gift Card Giveaways:
Freebies4Mom - Ends 12/1
The Dirty Shirt - Ends 12/3
Our Ordinary Life - Ends 12/5
Robyns Online World - Ends 12/4
Cutie Booty Cakes - Ends 11/27

LeapFrog Tag Junior Giveaways:
Mom in the City - Ends 12/4
Parenting by Trial and Error - Ends 11/30
Blogging 'Bout Boys - Ends 11/30
ReadyMom - Ends ?
Babes and Kids Review - Ends 11/30
Babes and Kids Review - Ends 11/30
Thinking some more - Ends 11/30

Several Giveaways for God is with me through the Night and God is with me through the Day by Julie Cantrell.
TinasBookReviews - Ends 12/1
Me, My Muse and I - Ends 11/21
Christian Book Notes - Ends ??
Heavenly Homemakers - Ends 11/24
Blessed with Grace - Ends 11/23
24/7 Moms - Ends 11/29
Everyday Becky - Ends 11/24
4 the LOVE of BOOKS - Ends 12/1
Mother-2-Mother - Ends 11/24
Jessica's World - Ends 11/20
Ministry-to-children.com - Ends 11/23
From the Trenches of Motherhood - Ends 11/24
She Sparkles - Ends 11/30
Write by Faith - Ends 11/30


Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck: Rockin’, Rollin’ and Ridin’ - CD Review and Giveaway


"Clap like this
Swing like that
Twist like this
Move like that
Shake it shake it shake it like this
shimmy shimmy shimmy like that
Rock like this you got to rock like that"
- "Rock Like This" song by Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck: Rockin’, Rollin’ and Ridin’

If a top kids party/dancing music list exists, Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck's latest CD, Rockin’, Rollin’ and Ridin’ should be up at the top of the charts. With funky rock guitar riffs and great dance tunes, kids (and adults) can't help but get on their feet, shaking and shimmying to the beat. This newest album even includes a song sung with Roscoe Orman (Gordon from Sesame Street). Now that's star power!


I can't believe that I hadn't heard of Rebecca Frezz & Big Truck before receiving this review CD! Regularly featured on Noggin Channel and PBS KIDS, the seven-piece kids band has received numerous awards from the likes of Parents' Choice, Nappa Gold and iParenting and more. Their sound is similar to Laurie Berkner or Milkshake, but with a little heavier rock beat. Our only complaint is that the CD is too short, with only eight songs. We could easily listen to this music for a much longer period!

True to its name, Rockin’, Rollin’ and Ridin features several transportation themed songs, "Big Truck", "Motorcycle Boy" and "Rocketship." But our favorites are the rockin' and rollin' songs, especially the catchy echo-song "Hey-O" (featuring Roscoe Orman). The kids love repeating after Rebecca and Roscoe and singing back the "Hey-O" phrase. Another favorite is "Robot Dancer", with the psychedelic, boinging noises perfect for energetic jumping exercises. The "Rock Like This" get up and dance lyrics tell you exactly how to rock like that.

Liven up your children's music collection and add this up-tempo album to the repertoire. The songs are appropriate for all ages of children, not just the youngest crowd, and parents will appreciate the rock and roll sound as well. Highly recommended by both my toddler and preschooler (and me).



Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck has kindly offered to give away a copy of their newest CD, Rockin’, Rollin’ and Ridin’.

To enter, visit Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck's website http://bigtruckmusic.com/ and leave a comment with the name of one of their songs.

• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US only
• Contest ends on Monday, December 7th, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winners will be chosen at random and notified by email
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4):
1st extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
2nd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
3rd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.



Thanks to Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck for this review opportunity and for providing a free CD for my family to review. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Kids bored? Here are some fun contests and activities

The Search for Flat Stanley’s Next BIG Adventure” Contest - Ends 11/30/09
Win an awesome Adventures by Disney 2010 season Vacation worth $10,000+! Entrants choose a destination, print out a destination entry pack, and write a story of one-hundred fifty (150) words or less about Flat Stanley’s adventure in the destination. Those ages 7 and 12 can enter. For more details make sure to read the official rules.


The Putumayo Kids Dance-Off Video Contest - Ends 12/15/09
Capture your kids dancing to their favorite Putumayo Kids songs on camera and win the full Putumayo Kids Collection including the new Putumayo release - A Family Christmas (a total retail value of $285). Visit http://www.putumayo.com/en/dance_off.html for details.


Paper Cranes for the Crane Museum - Submissions due by 12/13
Try out your origami skills and make a paper crane. It just might get featured in an exhibit in the Crane Museum of Papermaking. Read this The Crane Insider blog post for details.


Lands' End Artwork Contest - Entries must be postmarked by 11/20
Kid love art? Kids twelve years old or younger can submit their best holiday artwork and win a Lands' End gift card. Details at www.landsend.com/artcontest

“Make a K’NEXion” Video Contest - Ends 12/7/09
Create a video that showcases your child’s K'NEX building skills and
features your child building with select K’NEX products. The ten best videos will be featured on KNEX.com and one winning video will receive $1,000 worth of K’NEX Toys. Official rules PDF: http://knex.com/pdfs/video-contest-rules.pdf

By Kids for Kids, Toys“R”Us, JAKKS Pacific ‘Invention Dimension’ challenge - Ends 01/2/10
Young inventors ages 6 through 19 are encouraged to submit their own concepts for future toys, indoor and outdoor games, board games and sporting equipment. One National Grand Prize winner will receive a JAKKS Pacific Prize Pack valued at $1,000 and a trip to JAKKS Pacific headquarters in Malibu, California for an opportunity to pitch his/her invention to JAKKS’ development team. Details at http://www.bkfk.com/InventionDimension/

Know of any other fun contests for kids to enter? Leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Turkey Cookies




My daughter was friend of the day in school earlier this week. I spent the entire day helping out in her classroom. (Still covered in green paint from the turtle project!) Anyway, since they're discussing the letter "T" this week we made turkey cookies for snacktime. Found the idea on Betty Crocker. We made homemade sugar cookies instead of using a mix.


Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom or Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving - DVD Review



Giving isn't an easy concept for young children to learn. The holiday season offers many opportunities to teach children that giving is better than receiving. One hands-on way children can participate in charitable giving is by packing a shoe box full of goodies for Operation Christmas Child. This Christian charity helps deliver shoe boxes to youngsters in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. According to their website, the mission of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is "to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and the together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ." The week of November 16-23, 2009 is National Collection Week. There are many drop-off locations around the country.

This year VeggieTales has partnered with OCC in their DVD release, VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving. The new DVD teaches about the importance of giving by telling the story of Saint Nicholas, VeggieTales style. It even stars a new vegetable, Nicky the Pepper, as Saint Nicholas.

The movie begins with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber preparing for Christmas. Bob tells the Veggie kids the true story of Santa Claus and how this story relates to the baby Jesus. Reading out of a book, he recounts the story, starting with Nicholas' childhood in Greece (a "grimy sounding country that was fairly clean") during the 3rd century. Young Nicholas' father and mother were very religious, had much wealth and often helped those less fortunate. While Nicholas was still young his parents died in an epidemic, leaving him a large inheritance.

In this VeggieTales version of the story, Nicholas' servant, Octavious (Mr. Lunt), tries to help but Nicholas leaves Greece searching for happiness. He comes to the Holy Land and there meets Sister Claire (Petunia). She tells him that, "I can love because God loved me. I can give because God gave. Jesus' love is why I'm smiling - Why I'm giving every day." Inspired by this message he returns to Greece and finds it changed. An evil man named Gustav is now mayor and has outlawed giving. After reading Matthew 6:3, Nicholas decides to help people in secret. Disguising himself, he continues his parents' legacy of giving and encourages others to give. After hearing the story of St. Nicholas, the Veggie children and townspeople decide to help out a local family in need.

Like all VeggieTales stories, this DVD has several funny, witty moments (the fish on sticks/fishsticks made me laugh), and the show even offers a hilarious explanation for the origin behind the flying sleigh and reindeer. The small town scenery is much like Thomas Kinkade's paintings, full of light and Christmas happiness. The beginning song titled "Hope It's Gonna be a Happy Christmas" perfectly sets a cheerful stage. The theme song, "I Can Love" tells the reason behind St. Nick's giving spirit. My preschool daughter found the part of the movie where Nicholas' parents died slightly troubling, but loved the rest of the movie, especially the silly chase scene towards the end. I recommend this movie to all Christian families. VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas offers a fun way to tell children the story behind Santa Claus and also inspires children to give to others cheerfully, as recipients of God's love and grace.

As a bonus, the DVD features a special song, "Give This Christmas Away," by Matthew West with Amy Grant that helps promote the worthy cause, Operation Christmas Child. It's a wonderful song to share with your family this Christmas season. I had never heard of OCC, but, thanks to VeggieTales, I'm hoping to pack a shoebox for this cause with my children this year.




Related Links:
Watch the Donuts for Benny - Helpful Humanitarian Songs (Silly Song)
Samaritans Purse - Operation Christmas Child Website
VeggieTales Joyful Giving Guide for Parents [pdf]

(FREE Consumer DVD Gift with Purchase Offer
Through an offer inside the DVD, consumers who purchase the Saint Nicholas DVD will receive a FREE VeggieTales DVD to give to a friend. After purchase, log onto a special website and select a free VeggieTales DVD for only $2.99 shipping and handling.)


This post was written for Family Review Network as part of a program for Big Idea and VeggieTales, who supplied the DVD for review. I was not compensated in any way except for the complimentary product. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Sound of Music 50th Anniversary Special Edition - CD Review and Giveaway


Fifty years ago today The Sound of Music debuted on Broadway. The beloved musical by Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II is one of the most popular musicals of all time. While on Broadway it won six Tony Awards including Best Musical. As a child, I watched the movie version starring Julie Andrews frequently and pretended to star in the show, wearing my own special costumes and singing along with all the wonderful songs. I know nearly all the songs by heart and have passed my love of the musical along to my children.

Several years ago I read Maria von Trapp's, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. I wanted to know the actual story that inspired my favorite musical, The Sound of Music. Those that wish to learn more about the von Trapp family should take the time to read Maria's book. Even though Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical isn't exactly historically accurate, I still love their version dearly. The music speaks to my heart and gives me goosebumps, especially the song, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." Earlier this month on November 3rd, Masterworks Broadway released a restored, 50th anniversary edition of the original cast recording of The Sound of Music. In this original recording Mary Martin stars in the leading role as Maria and Theodore Bikel plays Captain von Trapp. Besides all the familiar songs, the new edition also includes three unusual bonus tracks, extensive liner notes about the show's history, and rarely seen photos of the recording sessions.

Sony Masterworks sent my family a digital download of the recording for review. The Sound of Music: 50th Anniversary Edition [CAST RECORDING] features songs performed by the original Broadway performers, restored for optimized sound. Even though most of the songs on the album were recorded on November 22, 1959, the sound is amazingly clear and of the highest quality. Mary Martin's voice is a little deeper and her style differs somewhat than Julie Andrews' performance style but we thoroughly enjoyed listening to this original version. My kids love the yodelling song "The Lonely Goatherd" and wanted me to play and replay the the track so that they could Odl lay ee along. Patricia Neway gives an impressive performance of the inspirational "Climb Every Mountain" showing off her powerful and strong voice. My mom's favorite, "Edelweiss," is featured on two tracks, the first song by Bikel, Martin and the children and later again in a very interesting version sung in German. Overall, this is an exceptional album and one that will be cherished by all fans of The Sound of Music. It's also great for family sing-alongs!

A new pop-up children's book has also been released by Simon & Schuster to correspond with the 50th anniversary. The book is titled, The Sound of Music: A Classic Collectible Pop-Up. (I will review the book at a later date when I receive a review copy.) A corresponding Sing-along activity kit is available for viewing online and includes a number of fun printables and activities, including some sing-along lyrics for "So Long, Farewell” and "Do-Re-Mi" to use with children.




Win your own copy! Masterworks Broadway/Sony has kindly offered to give away (1) The Sound of Music: 50th Anniversary Edition [CAST RECORDING] CD to a Brimful Curiosities reader.

To enter, leave a comment with the name of your favorite The Sound of Music song.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada
• Contest ends on Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random
Four ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 5 - leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: View The Sound of Music Sing-Along Activity Kit and comment with one of the words found in the The Sound of Music Word Search.
2nd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
3rd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
4th extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.


Thanks to Masterworks Broadway for this review opportunity and for providing a free digital download for my family to review. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

No Full to the Brim today

I'm helping out with my daughter's school book fair, so I won't have time to post Full to the Brim today. Please check back on Friday for more contests. Also, don't forget to enter the giveaways here at Brimful Curiosities. Two are ending tonight. Thanks!

Friday, November 13, 2009

P.J. Shaw - Sesame Street books and more - Review and Giveaway

It's hard to believe that Sesame Street turned a whopping 40 this week. So many years, so much time to create corresponding children's books. I'd have to say that my favorite Sesame Street related book is The Monster at the End of This Book featuring lovable, furry old Grover. What a classic! When she was a baby my daughter also loved So Big! a Sesame Street beginnings board book. The pop-up surprise in the end always brought on big smiles and we even took it with us for her nine month photo shoot. Worked like a charm!

Writer, editor, publicist P.J. Shaw [a.k.a. Meg McLaughlin] has authored her share of Sesame Street books, all published by Dalmatian Press. In a recent interview at WritingSnacks.com, she remarked, "My favorite things to do are to help aspiring authors get published and write Sesame Street books. I would live on Sesame Street if I could." We recently had the chance to review a few of Shaw's books.

"Abby, Abby, quite Cadabby, How does your alphabet grow? With ABC -- then letters to Z! Twenty-six, all in a row." - Storybook ABCs by Meg McLaughlin, illustrated by Tom Brannon

Storybook ABCs is an adorable blend of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, the ABCs and famous Sesame Street characters all combined together in one little paperback book. Starting with the letter A and ending with Z, each page shows Sesame Street characters role playing in beloved tales and rhymes. For instance, the letter S page depicts the Count and Countess gazing up and counting the stars, along with an accompanying poem, a sparkled up version of "Twinkle, twinkle, little star." Author McLaughlin writes with humor and wit and makes sure that each page contains several words starting with the featured letter.

I really enjoyed reading this book with my preschooler. We had fun discussing all the tales and rhymes in the book. While my daughter loved looking at all the colorful illustrations and checking out all the words, I probably appreciated the silly text even more than she did. I'm all for changing the words to familiar rhymes, so long as the reader already experienced the originals. Extending rhymes encourages creativity and there is plenty of that in this book. Some favorites of mine include CinderElmo, the three little pigs named Pear, Plum and Peach and Miss Muffet's mud soufflĂ©. My daughter like T for Tower, with Grover trying to climb up Zoe's long hair and exclaiming, "Um...what a tremendous tower to tackle." The word "fĂștball" had me a little confused though...is that the correct Spanish term for soccer ball? Either way the book is a fun, lighthearted addition to our nursery rhyme book collection.

P.J. Shaw also adapts children's books for younger readers. One of her newest books, My First Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (A Touch & Feel & Sparkle Book) takes little ones on a short adventure in Wonderland. Five pages of text summarize the classic story so that toddlers and preschoolers can learn about Alice and a few of the other characters. The touch and feel pages show a fluffy-eared White Rabbit with pink eyes, Alice falling into a well lined mirrors, a sparkly Caterpillar on a mushroom, a soft Cheshire Cat, and the Mad Hatter wearing a satin bow tie. With Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie releasing early next year, this book is a fun, interactive way to introduce and teach young children about the classic story.

In celebration of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary, P.J. Shaw [Meg McLaughlin] has kindly offered to give away a signed copy of one of her Elmo Sesame Street books: Love, Elmo illustrated by Tom Brannon.

To enter, leave a comment with your favorite Sesame Street character or favorite Sesame Street book.

• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US only
• Contest ends on Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winners will be chosen at random and notified by email
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4):
1st extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader
2nd extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
3rd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.


Book Source: Review copies provided for free by author (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (11/13/09)

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I publish "Full to the Brim" every Monday and Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!

Fish for more children's book giveaways at Lori Calabrese's Fish for a Free Book linkup each Friday


My Book Related Giveaways (see sidebar for all giveaways):

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/23/09
America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/23/09
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King / The Christmas Magic [picture book giveaway] Ends 11/30/09

Other book giveaways:
Katie's Literature Lounge - Book Giveaway Ends 11/14/09
America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven
Looking Glass Reviews - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
Winter’s tail, The Winter Book, Babymouse: The Musical
Teaching Authors - Book Giveaway Ends 11/14/09
Sahwira: An African Friendship by Carolyn Marsden
Like a Warm Cup of Coffee - Book Giveaway Ends 11/13/09
iPod and Steven Elkins Bible story and song book prize pack
Blessed with Grace - Book Giveaway Ends 11/19/09
Come and See Baby Jesus! or The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree
Coupon Teacher - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
four books from Pretty Please Press
Lipstick to Crayons - Book Giveaway Ends 11/24/09
Tiny Baby Jesus by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Julia Noonan
Book Giveaways - Book Giveaway Ends 11/24/09
The Legend of Papa Noel Terri Hoover Dunham
Cynsations - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09?
The Twelve Days of Christmas in Texas by Janie Bynum
Merry Weather - Book Giveaway Ends 11/16/09
The Mouse Ate The House and The Runt Farm (book 1 and 2)
Susieqtpies Scraps of Life - Book Giveaway Ends 11/14/09
HUGE Tweet for Literacy Book Giveaway including The Tree That Time Built (book & CD, autographed), edited by the Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman (also some middle grade/YA/adult books)
On Our Minds at Scholastic - Book Giveaway Ends ??
Little Scholastic books
Craftzine - Book Giveaway Ends 11/14/09
Scorpia and Ark Angel (Alex Rider) by Anthony Horowitz (YA)
Simple Father - Book Giveaway Ends 11/26/09
Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars [Klutz]
Mom Talk with 3 Kids and Us - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars [Klutz]
5 Minutes for Mom - Book Giveaway Ends 11/30/09
America’s White Table [Sleeping Bear Press]
J. Kaye's Book Blog - Book Giveaway Ends 11/28/09
SECRETS OF A CHRISTMAS BOX by Steven Hornby (middle grade)
Mama Bzz - Book Giveaway Ends 12/5/09
Who Made the World by Kathleen Long Bostrom
Mama Bzz - Book Giveaway Ends ??
The Dopple Ganger Chronicles by G.P. Taylor books 1 & 2 (middle grade/tween)
Bees Knees Reads - Book Giveaway Ends 11/20/09
A Wonderful Week by Marjolein Varekamp
Little Fun, Little Learning - Book Giveaway Ends 11/15/09
Tiny Baby Jesus by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Julia Noonan
Muse Reviews - Book Giveaway Ends 11/19/09
Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotton
Muse Reviews - Book Giveaway Ends 11/19/09
The Little Fir Tree
Muse Reviews - Book Giveaway Ends 11/19/09
Heart of a Snowman by Eugene Yelchin and Mary Kuryla
Muse Reviews - Book Giveaway Ends 11/19/09
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Brett Helquist
Mommy PR - Book Giveaway Ends 11/25/09
Peter Pauper Press Kids Activity Books
Bookin with Bingo - Book Giveaway Ends 11/16/09
3 Children's Books: Too Too Many Tutus, Chris Dreams Big, Too Many Visitors for One Little House
Our Ordinary Life - Book Giveaway Ends ??
LeapFrog Tag Jr.


Several Giveaways for The Nutcracker and the Mouse King illustrated by Gail De Marcken [written by by E.T. A. Hoffman] and The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Jon J. Muth.
Everead - Ends 11/26
The Children's Book Review - Ends 11/30
Through the Looking Glass blog - Ends ??
The B Keeps Us Honest - Ends 11/20
The Compulsive Reader - Ends 12/1
Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile - Ends 11/23
The Queen of My House - Ends 11/22
Write for a Reader - Ends 11/23
Serendipity is Sweet - Ends 11/25


Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What My Children Are Reading / stART - Coat of Many Colors


The kids both caught colds and my daughter missed the last few Sunday School classes so I decided it was time for a Bible story this week. I can vaguely remember the cover of one of my favorite Bible stories growing up, the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. I'm pretty sure the illustration on the cover depicted a shepherd Joseph wearing a brilliant, colorful coat and holding a staff. I haven't been able to locate find the book and my mom does not remember the title, so we read a few others this week instead.

With Thanksgiving and winter fast approaching, I also thought it was a good time to talk to my daughter about those less fortunate. While reading the books, I mentioned to my daughter that not all children have warm coats to wear because they cannot afford them. We talked about generosity, having compassion for others and being thankful for what we do have.

"Joseph's Coat" is one the short Bible stories included in 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs by Stephen Elkins. I read my children the brief story and we listened to the accompanying song, "Joseph's Coat of Many Colors." 100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs is perfect for sharing brief Bible lessons with your children and includes both Old and New Testament stories. Two CDs with 50 songs each are included inside the book and enhance the reading experience. The songs feature young children singing accompanied by synthesized music. (Although the book does not include the lyrics to the songs, they can be found on the related website, My Wonder Kids).

Each page spread typically features one story with simplified text on the left hand page and an illustration on the right. The illustrations by Tim O'Connor are bright, cute and appropriate for young children. I especially like that each story lists the Bible verse(s) that each story is based on. However, I wish that the corresponding Bible Song track numbers were listed in the book so that I could easy find the accompanying song for each story without taking the CD out of the player. My preschool daughter enjoys paging through the book and looking at the illustrations. Her favorite part tells the story of Baby Moses. This is not a book to be read cover to cover in one sitting, but one that is appropriate to use as a resource in supplementing home religious studies. I would also recommend it to Sunday School teachers.

100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs by Stephen Elkins, illustrated by Tim O'Connor. Thomas Nelson (March 2005); 208 pages; ISBN 9781591452393
Book Source: I'm a Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger; Review copy provided for free by publisher (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


"As she sewed she told a story from the Bible she had read, about a coat of many colors Joseph wore, and then she said, 'Perhaps this coat will bring you good luck and happiness.'" - Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton, illustrated by Judith Sutton

One of Dolly Pardon's most famous songs is "Coat of Many Colors." Judith Sutton's illustrations pair together with the lyrics to this wonderful song in a children's book by the same name, Coat of Many Colors. The book shows a little girl living in a rural area. Fall approaches and she doesn't have a coat. Her mother takes a box of rags and sews together a patchwork coat. The little girl proudly wears her coat to school and, even though her friends make fun of her, she cherishes her coat, remarking that, "One is only poor if they choose to be." This heart-warming story about poverty teaches each of us to count our blessings no matter our situation in life. It's a beautiful story to share with children, especially in the fall season.

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton, illustrated by Judith Sutton. HarperCollins (1994); 32 pages; ISBN 9780060234133
Book Source: Copy from our local public library (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


For our stART project, we made our own coats of many colors by decorating freezer paper with markers and cutting out armholes with a scissors. Unfortunately the little guy refused to wear his, but my daughter proudly posed with her gorgeous coat.







Post what you've been reading each week with your kids at The Well-Read Child or Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Hope Is the Word hosts a Read Aloud Thursday link-up as well.