Cool Book for LEGO Lovers

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LEGO building book for kids

Recently I was contacted with the opportunity to review  a new book called Cool Creations in 35 Pieces, a LEGO building book, by LEGO artist Sean Kenney.

I immediately thought of my 4-year-old nephew, A.J., who at a very young age became a LEGO fanatic. I asked my sister if she would like to put this new book to the test on her LEGO lover, to which the answer was an enthusiastic, “YES.”

Cool Creations in 35 Pieces Review

by Suzanne Burns, mom of a 4-year-old LEGO fan

“I was excited to be able to test out this new LEGO building book by Sean Kenney as I was desperate for some indoor quiet activities while baby brother napped during the last (LONG) week of summer.

My 4-year-old is LEGO crazy so the idea of this book is so smart. Sean re-uses the same 35 pieces to make a variety of images in all different categories.


When starting out, the first thing you do is find these 35 pieces in your own Lego collection. If you don’t have them, you can also order from his website.

I love this because you don’t need the specific piece with the suggested colors ~ but you can mix it up with what you have available. Done…here’s what we dug up!

LEGO pieces for Lego Building Book
Then, let the building begin!

It is separated into sections of robots, silly faces, vehicles, farm animals, etc. And with 35 pieces, the steps are very simple for a 4-year-old to complete on his own. Heaven!!

I actually told him to surprise me with his favorite one and then I went….to shower!! A long shower that wasn’t interrupted through the curtain asking me to find a piece for him or help him when he finish a step.

Over the course of a few days, my little guy kept going back to the book and finding new ones to build.

Here he is in action and with a few of his creations. Most importantly, the Pirate Policeman finally had a giant mouse to ride. I just love to see my kid’s imagination at work!

Lego Building Book
So if you know a Lego fanatic, this would be a perfect birthday or holiday gift at a fantastic price point…only $13!!! It is sure to keep them busy and entertained! We will for sure check out some of his other books in the future!!!”

Sean Kenney is an artist who creates scultpures and models out of LEGO bricks at his studio in New York City. He has toured the world with his creations and produced six inspirational and instructive children’s books. For more info and to see his books and art, visit

[Disclosure: Complimentary copy of Cool Creations in 35 pieces was provided for review. 110% of our opinions are our own. My sister on numerous occasions has remarked on how much she LOVES this book. ]

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A Getting Ready for School System for Stress-free Mornings

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Getting Ready Morning Checklist

Right before school started I was at a friend’s house and noticed a getting ready morning chart of tasks for her daughter. I thought it was a really great idea, so I decided to try it myself with my girls for this new school year.

I don’t know about you, but many mornings in the getting ready for school rush I would hear myself constantly barking out orders or questions. 

Did you brush your teeth? Is your bed made? Get dressed! Where are your shoes? Get in the car! We’re going to be late! 

One of my goals this school year is to have more peaceful, stress-free mornings, because isn’t that a better way for everyone to start the day?

Our getting ready for school mornings so far have been a big success – thanks to these getting ready morning charts for kids – so I am very excited to share this new system with you.

First Things First: The Night Before 

Before I get started on the charts, from experience, I have noticed doing a few things the night before will give you a head start as your go into your day. Namely,

1. Have them choose their outfit and lay out the items from head to toe, from hair accessories to socks.

2. Put their homework folder and any other items that need to go to school in their backpack.

And of course, if you have time:

3. Pack lunches to save precious morning minutes. Now onto our new getting ready morning charts…

Getting Ready Morning Chart for Grade Schoolers 

I have two daughters, ages 4 and 7, so although the getting ready tasks are generally the same, I had to tailor them to their ages.

For my second grader Emma, I did her chart and also put in times.  Now, we are only two weeks in, but each day she has gone into her room to start her getting ready list at 7:30 on the dot, and the mornings have been dreamily smooth.

She loves following her list – I don’t know WHY I didn’t do this sooner!


Another thing that is working for us is having her make her bed and tidy her room BEFORE getting dressed. Last year,  if we were running late and the bed was not made, it would not get done as it was more important to get out the door on time. If she does it before she gets dressed, it gets done.

Getting Ready Morning Chart for Preschoolers 

Since my 4-year-old can’t read yet, I still wrote a list for her, but also pulled little pictures off the web to put next to the words so she knew what she had to do.

She was so excited when she got it, and quickly named off each thing to do from the pictures.


Now on the mornings when I take Emma to school, my husband stays Morgan while he is getting ready for work, and I have enough time to come by from Emma drop off to pick up Morgan to take to preschool.

While I am gone on the first school drop off – she will do most of her list on her OWN.  It has made me realize how she is more than capable of doing many of the things her older sister can do.

I have learned they are capable – we just have to give them the direction!

A Carrot Just for Fun 

Just to give following the getting ready morning checklist a fun incentive, I printed out blank calendars for the month, and taped one for each girl on the side of our washer/dryer in our garage, along with a ziploc baggie with stickers. This is the last thing they do before getting into the car.

I told them that each school day where they got ready nicely, completed their checklist, and made it in the car on time, they would get a sticker on the day.

For every 2o days that have a sticker (hopefully about once a month) they will get to pick a prize from our treasure box.I haven’t been to get the treasure box yet, but I plan to fill it with little inexpensive items like pencils, $1 bin Target finds, erasers, stickers, etc. I don’t think the items really matter, I think it more fun working towards a goal!


 Do you have any getting ready for school tips to share?

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Your Opinion Earns You Rewards at iPoll

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Paid online surveys

What if I told you there are paid online surveys that could start earning you rewards just by offering your honest opinion ~ sounds like music to your ears, right? 

That’s why I’m so excited to introduce you to iPoll, a genius tool that pays customers to communicate with corporations and market research firms in an easy and modern way.

By joining iPoll you get paid to voice your opinion to the retailers, restaurants and places that you frequent most often!
ipoll mobile 2

What is iPoll?

iPoll is an online and mobile community that rewards customers for their feedback on products and services that they use everyday.

How to Sign Up:

Sign up online for free here and follow the easy instructions on downloading the iPoll app. Yes, it is free to sign up for these paid online surveys.

Once you download iPoll to your phone you can immediately start earning rewards. 

You earn rewards by completing “missions” (by the way, don’t let the word mission scare you, it might involve a trip to Target!)

All missions are based on information you supply at registration so each survey is tailored to fit your interests and experiences.

Taking the Surveys:

You can choose to take a survey online or one that requires you to visit a local store or restaurant.

The paid online surveys are kept brief, usually between 15 – 20 minutes and you’ll know up front the expected time each survey will take to complete.

It is important to note that your reward compensation will be based on the length and complexity of the survey. Some surveys may involve taking photos, videos etc., which will have a higher reward than those that are short and sweet and require less of your time.

The great thing is – you choose what you can participate in based on how much time you have to devote to the mission.

What can you earn?

iPoll offers a diverse reward program so you can get paid in a variety of ways.

Some that jumped out at me are Amazon gift codes, deposits to your Paypal account and if you’re feeling generous, iPoll can even donate your reward to a wide variety of global charity organizations – I love that!

So, now that you have the skinny on iPoll, go start earning those Amazon gift codes – happy earning! 

 [Disclosure: We’re thrilled to announce that iPoll is a new Tiny Oranges sponsor and happy to spread the word about their $$ earning app!]

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We will never forget.

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We will never forget

This post is dedicated to the heroes of 9/11 and all the families, friends and loved ones affected by the tragic events of that day.

We will never forget.

Hug those you love just that much tighter ~ Give some extra “I love you’s” ~ Give someone a heartfelt compliment ~ Say a prayer for the grieving hearts ~ Do something unexpectedly fun with your kids and treasure their giggles ~ Reach out to a friend to tell them how much them mean to you  ~ Hold those you love close

We will never forget. 

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Confessions from a Mommy of Two

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Mommy Confessions 5

I have a mommy confession to make. Okay…several.  Here are my confessions from a mommy of two.  About parenting (have I perked your interest?).

Do you ever remember thinking during your pre-mommyhood days…”When I have kids, I will NEVER…(fill in the blank)”.  Or worse, “When I have kids, I will never let them…(fill in the many, many blanks).”

Ummm, yeahhhh. Fast-forward years later, I now have two active, rambunctious, bright, curious, mischievous, stubborn, loving, sweet, loud little kiddos, and I would like to respectfully retract quite a few of my pre-baby “rules.”  No matter how well intentioned.    Because now I’m a mom in the trenches.

Because as all of you mamas know, you live, you learn, you survive, you thrive, you fail, you succeed, you meltdown, you learn to live on little (or no sleep), you experiment…and you love your child more than you ever thought possible.

So here’s a message for my pre-kid self – being a mama is a LOT more challenging than you ever dreamed.  And it will be the most rewarding thing you will ever do.  So ease up on all of those “I’ll never” rules. Because you’ll throw quite a few out the window during the winding path of mommy hood.

Want a laugh?  Here you go – my top 10 things I swore I’d never do (obviously this was made before I had babies).

Top 10 Parenting Things I Swore I’d Never Do [That I Do Now]

10.) Let them wear mismatched or funky clothes.  In public.

I quickly learned to pick my battles. Polka dot shirts with striped pants, Halloween socks and a red Minnie Mouse bow was not a battle that was worth it.  My “rule” quickly turned to…if you’re clean and in clean clothes, you’re fine. Go for it. The fashion world is your oyster.

Mommy Confessions 1

9.)  Raise my voice (that sounds SO much better than yelling, doesn’t it?)

Granted, the majority of the time, my “raised voice” is to simply be heard over my very loud, lovable kids. But still…I was convinced that I would only yell if I absolutely had to for safety reasons.  (Does chasing my three-year-old around the house trying to shove his shoes on because we’re late to school, count??)

8.)  Spit on my hand…to fix their unruly hair. (Ewwww, I know.)

This is a no-brainer, right?  I actually caught myself doing this on picture day at school last year.  I was mortified.  Then, I realized it was either a “spit-do” or fly-away, frizzy hair on my little princess for her Pre-K picture.  Spit it is.

7.)  Become a short order cook.

I had listened to other moms complain about cooking several dishes per mealtime, and was quietly convinced that my future children would only eat what I cooked for the whole family.  Healthy, organic, fresh food with something represented from each food group.

I have been a mom for almost six years.  I have yet to master or enforce this concept.  I’ll let you know when it happens.

6.)  Feed them lots and lots of snacks…beyond the suggested 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. “snack times.”

The books I read (during my pregnancy) encouraged snack times twice a day.  Once mid-morning and once mid-afternoon.  Seemed simple enough.  Until I actually had kids (are you starting to see my pattern?).

Many days, one snack isn’t enough.  And whenever we climb into the car and they have been strapped in their carseats for .3 seconds, they are asking for a snack (I’ve learned that carseats somehow equal snack time).

So I feed my little munchkins their snacks…and Cheerios, granola bar flakes and cracker crumbs litter the floor of my car.  Yes, I give them more snacks at random times if they ask for it.  And yes, they still eat their full breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So I’ve learned to let this one go.

5.)  Demand privacy…(for going to the bathroom, showering, dressing – ha ha!)

This one is self explanatory.  Any parent understands this.  There is NO privacy.  Ever.  Part of the hazing process of motherhood.

Mommy Confessions 2

4.) Let them watch television. Sometimes, for more than 30 minutes at a time – gasp!

I read the studies, I talked to other moms, I talked with my husband, and we decided to greatly limit our children’s television time.  Of course we would!  We would be so busy being the best parents ever, we wouldn’t even have time to turn on the tv!  We would be too engrossed in teaching baby sign language, playing classical music, engaging our children in creative and sensory play, yada yada yada.

Almost six years later, I know every Disney Junior theme song, can recite Thomas the Train by heart (it haunts me in my sleep), and have seen every Pixar/Disney movie available.  Multiple times.

Not my proudest confession, but I think one of the most honest.  Although we DID the baby sign language, music class, gymnastics, swim, story time, park time, yada yada…I still let my kids watch tv.  And yes, sometimes for more than 20-30 minutes at a time.

3.)  Let them play with iPhones and/or iPads at restaurants.

This used to be one of my biggest pet peeves.  I was taught that mealtime was family time.  A time to talk and share about your day.

But actually having kids now (including a VERY squirmy toddler), I can certainly appreciate that an iPad can help…let’s say “bridge a gap,” during a restaurant visit with little kids.  Pretty much any restaurant that isn’t fast food.  So my rule is we all talk about our day first…before the iPad turns on.

2.) Bribe, bribe, bribe.

Now I’m not talking about “I’ll buy you a $20 train if you sit still during a Target run” – but, let’s be serious.  I have been known to use tv/computer screen time, fruit snacks, stickers, ice cream, a trip to their favorite park, dinner at Ruby’s, lollipops, etc. as bribes…whatever is an appropriate “incentive” at the time.  But I’d like to think I’m still choosy (this helps me feel better about the situation).

Mommy Confessions 4

1.) Beg.

“Please, please, PLEASE just…GO TO SLEEP.  NAP.  STOP SINGING MICKEY MOUSE ON REPEAT.  PICK UP YOUR TOYS.  REMEMBER TO FLUSH THE POTTY.  WASH YOUR HANDS. PUT ON YOUR SHOES. STOP THROWING THINGS DOWN THE STAIRS.”  The list goes on and on and on.  Said I’d never do it.  And, here I am.  As a mom, it’s inevitable!

Spill it, mamas!  What did you say you’d NEVER do, but do now that you have kiddos?  Let’s share the laughs and stories together!

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