Monday, November 11, 2019

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 for the Nintendo Switch: A Mom's Review

Full disclosure: I am no gamer.

I mean…I have two brothers who were into video games from the age of five. So I did grow up playing video games with them (I didn't want to be the odd man out!) And I can usually hold my own. But as far as what I prefer to do with my free time…I tend to gravitate towards reading, writing, or general socializing. (Except when it comes to The Sims. I get sucked into The Sims and end up giving those games hours upon hours of my life.) My son, however, is all in when it comes to gaming. Barely in elementary school and he's already a gamer.

All of that to say, I'm reviewing this more as a mom and someone who very occasionally plays video games. So my review won't include detailed information on graphics or technical aspects. But it will instead focus on what elements of the game my son and I enjoy. And how appropriate it is for younger audiences.

Right off the bat, I personally like that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 lets you skip through the intros. I do not have the patience to sit through those. I just want to play! Because of my impatience, story mode did go a little slow for me. Even with being able to skip through it, there is a lot of dialogue between gameplay. That is literally the only "complaint" I have as far as Tokyo 2020 goes.

Both my son and I appreciated how easy the game was to control. Buttons only mode kept things simple while the single and dual control modes allow the player to be a bit more active. The game does provide instructions on which buttons produce different actions at the beginning of each segment, but overall, it's all rather intuitive.

The plot of the game is a little silly but definitely age-appropriate for even the youngest players. The nefarious Bowser and Dr. Eggman have trapped Mario, Sonic, Toad, and (unintentionally) themselves in an old game system. (Cue the retro graphics.) Now Mario and Sonic must compete against the two villains to be set free. Meanwhile, the heroes' friends are joining together outside of the nostalgic game system to figure out how to help. You must compete against different "good guy" characters in various games to get them to join your quest to help Mario and Sonic. Why they wouldn't just help to begin with…I'm not sure. But it does allow for you to experience the non-retro games in story mode. So if you're not a fan of the retro look, this works out well for you. The storyline vacillates between what is going inside of the game system and what is happening outside of it.

My favorite feature of Tokyo 2020 is definitely the 24 various mini-games available in Quick Match. You can choose to play only your favorites or constantly switch (no pun intended) it up if you're one who gets bored easily. On top of the 24 main mini-games, there are 10 retro games. 10 additional mini-games can be unlocked through story mode as well.

My favorites of the mini-games are skateboarding and surfing. Probably because those are the ones I somehow always get first place in. The mini-games can be played in single-player or multiplayer (up to 4 players) modes. Parents of young kids- there are a few fighting mini-games but they aren't graphic or violent in the least. The hits are quick and injuries are not shown. Plus it very much has the “sporting event" feel to it with the boxing mini-game set in a ring and karate taking place on a mat.

Overall, the game is lighthearted, fun, easy-to-play, and appropriate for all ages. I feel it's definitely a game the entire family can enjoy together in Quick Match mode, as well as a game one can play on their own in story mode. There is also no worry of inappropriate content with this game which, as a parent, is always a major factor when it comes to purchasing a game for my kid. Wholesome and fun - this mom recommends.

View the game trailer here

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Can You Create A Grown-Up Space For Your Pre-Teen? Here’s What To Consider

Written by a contributing writer 

Our children grow up fast and while you want them to stay in their child-esq room, at some stage they will want a more grown-up space. The thing is, you want something that will last a while and reflect their age at the same time. You understand that they will probably want to spend more time in their rooms and that the space should be a usable space for playtime, homework, and general relaxing. You may be a little fearful of tackling their bedroom and decorating, so with that in mind, here is some advice to consider. Hopefully it gives you the inspiration and motivation to give your little one the bedroom of their dreams.

Image source - Pixabay - CC0 License

Invest in different furniture

You may want to ensure that you have the right sort of furniture in place to last as your little ones grow. As each year passes they get more homework, become more involved with friends, and want their privacy. Which means that unless you want to be redecorating things every few years, you may want to invest in the right furniture. Good storage options as well as things like a desk could prove very useful. Storage is very important for rooms that are small and will help them look and remain tidy. 

Use the opportunity to declutter and sell unwanted items

If you are in the process of overhauling your little one's room, then now is the perfect time to start thinking about making some big changes to the amount of items that they have in their rooms. Many children have toys, games, and items that they may have outgrown. This is the perfect time for you to start decluttering and you could even use it as a chance to sell unwanted items online. Websites like eBay are great for this,and it is also a great way to boost your income.

What about lighting and quirky features?

Another thing that can make a bedroom space feel a little more grown-up is the lighting. This can be achieved with things such as colored lighting or quirky LED bulbs. You could also look at investing in a haus bright grow light that could make a huge difference to any house plants in the bedroom. Lighting can transform a space, so take some to think about which fixtures and the types of lights would suit the bedroom. 

Have a budget

Finally, because it is so easy to let your imagination run wild when it comes to designing your child’s bedroom, especially thanks to Pinterest and Instagram which is full of inspiration, you should set some sort of budget for yourself. The cost of new furniture, paint, and other aspects such as handymen if you do need extra help with putting the room together. If things are a little tight, then you can hunt out some bargains online. Websites like eBay are full of great finds and even some used items can make great additions to your home. The last thing you want to do is to go overboard and run out of money before the project is completed.

With these tips, creating a space for your pre-teen can be simple and affordable.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ways To Give Kids More Social Experiences

Written by a contributing writer

There are things in your child’s life that will help give them the best start to adulthood, and that’s social experiences. Being able to communicate with others is something that’s needed so much in adult life and so it’s important to give them as much of an opportunity to socialize as possible. So here are some ways to give your kids more social experiences.

Image Source

After-School Activities

One of the main social experiences that we all have from a young age is through education. We go to school with hundreds, maybe thousands of others our age and we have to learn to be respectful and kind to everyone. It’s a real test of your sociable skills and what better than to do it from a young age? After-school activities, therefore, are just another way of expanding on what’s already happening at school. Not only does it provide additional friendships with others that they may not have interacted with at school, but it’s also good for finding passions. It’s certainly worth seeing if a stem class is available at your child’s school.

These after-school activities will usually cover topics that maybe aren’t covered in as much detail during normal school times. It’s never too early to explore what you like and what could end up becoming your career as an adult.

Sports Or Dance Classes

Apart from school, it’s good to encourage interest in other classes that may be available within your local area. Sports and dance classes tend to be two things that a lot of children get involved with at an early age. And whether those dance classes cover everything from ballet to tap or just focus on one genre, it’s beneficial. The social experience that they get from working together in a soccer team to lifting each other up in a dance routine, all goes towards their social experiences.

Making Time For Family Discussion

A family unit can come in many variations nowadays, and one of the most important things in a family is to have communication. The other main area where a child learns socialization for the first time is in the family home. It’s where they learn to say their first words and to have conversations - albeit at first a load of babbling - between them and you as the parent. So it’s good to continue this building of social skills by having family discussions on a regular basis. Whether that’s a catch-up around the dinner table or it’s a debate over something you’ve all just watched on the news. It’s healthy to keep them involved and to lead and listen in conversation. The more you do this within the family home, the more confident they’ll feel when it comes to socializing in the outside world.

Offering your child the best opportunities when it comes to social experiences can help boost their confidence in themselves and to create real friendships and connections with those that they genuinely feel a pull towards. It’ll help them later in their adult life and will continue to provide them with opportunities throughout their lifetime.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tips for Flying with Kids with Allergies and Compromised Immune Systems

Plane travel with kids is difficult enough as it is, right? You have to make sure you have snacks, entertainment, and remedies for those uh-oh situations (bathroom accidents, airsickness, ear pain). But if you have a child with nut allergies or a compromised immune system, it becomes an even bigger challenge with even more prep-work and the situations you're preparing for are much more than little uh-ohs.

As you may or may not know, my son has a compromised immune system.  And while we have been lucky that this is something he could grow out of (fingers crossed) and something that doesn't affect his daily life too drastically, it is something that makes things like air travel a little more difficult.  Because for him, catching someone's cold on a plane could turn into an ear infection within the next day or two in a place far away from his regular physicians. And that equals a lot of explaining and advocating on my part in order to make sure my son receives the correct treatment.  No one wants to deal with any of that on vacation. So, needless to say, it's just best to avoid the situation altogether.

I imagine air travel for kids with nut allergies must be incredibly stressful for their parents as well. Especially if the allergy is severe. Luckily, the tips below can also help nut allergy parents make plane rides with their little ones just a bit easier.

1. Ask to Board Early

Most airlines have "family boarding" which allows you to board with young children before other passengers.  However, if your children are a little older you often won't qualify for this boarding. I recommend getting to the gate early and asking to pre-board. Explain your situation to the employee and often they will grant you preboarding. Please be aware that typically only the child and one adult will be able to preboard this way. You will not be able to preboard your entire family. But, this will at least allow you to have time to prepare your child's seat and area on the plane without a line of people waiting behind you.

2. Use Seat Sitters

Seat Sitters seem like such a simple idea that I'm not sure why it hasn't been around longer. These approved plane seat covers are easy to slip on when boarding. They're comfortable, washable/reusable, and overall incredibly effective when it comes to keeping those germs or nut oils on the seat away from your little one. I've used both the original version and the new version. I prefer the new version since it comes with an easy to carry and store zippered pouch. The seat cover also comes with antibacterial hand wipes, crayons, an allergy sticker, a tray cover, and an allergy mask. These covers literally make my life so much easier on plane travel days.

3. Lysol or Clorox Wipes Are a Must

I use Lysol or Clorox wipes (whichever ones I can find travel size packets for at the time) to wipe down everywhere the Seat Sitter doesn't cover.  This means the arms of the chair, the tray, the wall/window by the seat, the back of the seat in front of my son's seat, and even the seatbelt. I also wipe down the area of the seat next to my child (usually my seat) and if I have time, I basically wipe down the area and seatbelts of the entire row.

4. Hand sanitizer

I know hand sanitizer has been controversial in the past...but it's a lifesaver for us. My son and I both use hand sanitizer before eating anything and after leaving the airport. Antibacterial hand wipes (like those provided in the Seat Sitters kit) are also a good option.

5. Medical Masks

Medical masks can be purchased online (I use Amazon, of course) and I definitely recommend having your child wear one from the time you enter the airport. Seat Sitters do come with an allergy mask that may be enough for those with allergies. However, when it comes to blocking germs, I prefer hospital-grade masks. If your child feels shy about wearing one, wearing one yourself could help your child feel more comfortable.  That way, they aren't the only one on the plane wearing a mask.

Hopefully these tips help other parents stressing about plane rides with their kids! These simple tips have prevented my son from catching any germs on plane rides and overall helped us to have a smoother journey while traveling.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Are Your Kids Active Enough?

Written by a contributing writer 

As a parent in the current cultural climate, you may have found yourself wondering whether your kids are active enough. Many of our little ones are engaging in more activities that don’t require too much movement. Video games, cartoons, and social media generally encourage your little ones to sit still, facing a screen for extended periods of time. This, of course, is fine every now and then. But you should be encouraging your children to engage in more high energy activities that will get their blood pumping and keep them active!

Research of youth participation has shown that both the way kids engage with exercise and the types of exercise that kids are enjoying is changing. While football and soccer still remain popular sports, they are decreasing in popularity, while more obscure activities like gymnastics, lacrosse, and track and field are on the rise.

Female participation is on the up and more kids in general are participating in organized sports. So, you don't need to worry that your kids will be disinterested in exercise. You just need to make sure you’re offering them the chance to engage in a type of exercise that they enjoy!

Hopefully, the infographic from Cisco Athletic below will give you some deeper insight into youth sports participation trends and can help to guide you on the right path to getting your kids involved! Exercise is important for all children, so do your utmost to help them reach their sixty-minutes-a-day target!

Infographic Design By Cisco Athletic

Saturday, July 13, 2019

$1, $5, and $100+ Prescription Glasses. Can You Tell the Difference? - Where to Find Affordable Prescription Glasses Online

I did a thing. I finally went to the optometrist and my suspicions were confirmed.  Years of working from home and staring at a computer screen for hours on end without looking away...has affected my vision.  Although I now wear these Blue Light Blocking Glasses while working, enough damage had already been done.  So, glasses for me it is!

Now, I did buy a pair at the optometrist's office. Luckily, my insurance covered most of the cost. But, the glasses still ended up being over $100 after insurance. The sales person also tried to sell me prescription sunglasses. And while I am a sucker for a cute pair of sunnies... I was not about to pay hundreds of dollars on a pair that day.

Luckily, my simply beautiful sister-in-law had already told me about Zenni, an online shop that sells prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses at affordable prices. So, I asked for a copy of my prescription to order some Rx sunglasses online. I mean...I NEEDED them, right? (Tip: Make sure you get your PD measurements as well if you're planning on ordering glasses online.)

After ordering from Zenni, I saw an ad for a website called Firmoo on Instagram. I did some light research and quickly realized Firmoo has a pretty good reputation. During this time, Firmoo had two specials going on.  One was a pair of glasses for $4.95.  Another was a pair for just $1. I ended up paying $20.80 in total ($4.95 frames, shipping charge, lens charge of $4.95, and lens coating charge of $4.95) with the "$4.95" deal. But with the $1 deal, I paid just $1 in total. Shipping, lens, and coating charges were included.

See if you can tell which frames were $1, $5, and over $100 from the pictures below.




And now for the answers

1. Over $100 Optometrist pair
2. $4.95 Firmoo deal
3.  $1 Firmoo deal

Ready to get take a look and see if there is anything that catches your eye?


I've only purchased sunglasses through Zenni so I can't comment on how the eyeglasses prepare. But I love the sunglasses. The pair of tortoiseshell ones do make me a little dizzy if I wear them for an extended period of time. So I tend to prefer the black pair that I own. Both are oversized.

Tip: I don't think the "try on" feature is very accurate. Instead, I relied on reviews and the photos posted by others that can be found on the product page and within the reviews. I love glasses that other people deem ridiculously huge. So if there are reviews that claim "These are just too big" or "I wish they were smaller", I know I'm headed in the right direction.


The Firmoo $1 deal sounds too good to be true. But it wasn't. I definitely recommend using this deal to try Firmoo. The glasses don't feel cheap and they don't make me dizzy at all.  The $1 deal is available to new customers here. Be sure to use promo code 1usdsa at checkout. Valid through July 31, 2019.

If you're seeing this post after July 31st, you can still get 50% off of your order. Go here and use code Candice0629970.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

How To Make Your Daily Commute A Little Less Awful

Written by a contributing writer

Image via Pexels

The single biggest thing that most of us dread about our working day? The commute. Even when you're your own boss you need to travel for business. And although there are definitely unique frustrations about a commute on public transport, at least you have the option there of sticking in headphones or immersing yourself in your Kindle to make the time go by quickly. When your daily journey involves a drive, switching off is not an option. And the frustration of the pure wasted time involved in sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is enough to make you want to scream. However, there are ways that you can brighten up these bookends of your working day. It is possible to be more productive, comfortable and calm during that commuter drive, with a few essentials at your fingertips.

Grab A Cup To Go

One thing that is always guaranteed to start the morning off right and make traffic more bearable is a nice warm drink of your choice - whether it's the morning coffee you need to get your day started, a calming herbal tea or even an indulgent winter hot chocolate - invest in an insulated travel mug and you can take that beverage to go. Make sure that you purchase a quality container that is going to keep your drink hot throughout your entire trip. If you’re running late in the morning, you can even use it to hold oatmeal so you have something to eat when the traffic is stationary. Pack a drink and a cereal bar and you have breakfast ready to go at the wheel.

Keep Safe On The Roads

A safe commute is a happy one, so if you spend a lot of time in your car, then make sure that you have taken steps to keep your journey as stress-free as possible. Purchase a dashcam from a company like so that you have video evidence if the worst should happen and a collision on the roads should occur. Make sure that you take your vehicle in regularly for servicing if you’re using it for commuting, and that the tires are kept full of air and the engine oil is topped up. During the winter months, make sure that you’re fully prepared for adverse weather conditions by investing in snow tires if you’re in a place that experiences deep snow, and stocking the boot up with bottled water, blankets, a shovel, a flashlight and a small first aid kit, as well as a back-up charger for your phone.

Calm It Down

It's easy to lose your cool in traffic, so make the journey more comfortable with a padded memory foam seat cushion and some back support if you’re sitting for long periods of time. If you struggle with stress and anxiety, a dashboard aromatherapy diffuser can do a lot to improve your mood on your journey to work. And if it's the sense of wasted time that stresses you out when your to-do list is bursting at the seams, then try finding a current affairs podcast to listen to or even a learning a language while you commute.