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Grandma's Back Room is where you'll find all kinds of fun stuff, including GIVEAWAYS, REVIEWS, SPONSORED POSTS and more!

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    Halloween is coming! Two fun ways to count the days

    October has pretty much arrived, which means just 31 more days til Halloween. Which can seem like forever to a child. Make the waiting for the Halloween fun a little easier with these two cool ways to countdown the days, both of which I received free for review.

    How Many Days 'til...Halloween craft kit

    This simple craft for grandmas (or moms or any adult) to make for the youngsters in their life helps minimize the "how many more days til Halloween?" requests. Hang it where the kids can reach and allow them to move the sleep black cat from pocket to pocket, marking the days til Halloween has arrived.

    The craft kit comes with everything crafters will need (except glue) to create the adorable 14" wide by 13" high felt pumpkin with pockets. felt, numbered pockets, embroidery floss, Halloween-themed doodads and more. I was happy to have a complete kit for the craft instead of having to hunt down all the little things required to make it eerie and awesome.

    All you need in addition to the kit and some glue is a little know how—mainly, I found, how to execute a blanket stitch. Which, incidentally, I had never done before. But with a quick Internet search and comfort in the note on the kit instructions that the project is meant to be "primitive" and "Uneven stitches and wonky placement add to the charm of the total piece."

    My stitching was indeed uneven and slightly wonky (and actually not stitched exactly as instructed, an oversight on my part). Even so, the project took me about five hours total time, spread out across a few evenings to complete and turned out quite well. I think my grandsons will agree and be delighted in moving the black cat from pocket to pocket, anticipating the final pocket marked 31.

    It's likely a little late to create your own How Many Days 'til...Halloween craft project this year, but there's always next year. The kits are available for $22 from Surf City Mercantile Etsy shop.


    Countdown Cal

    There is still time for Countdown Cal Halloween countdown fun, though—if you order soon. Countdown Cal is a Halloween countdown calendar filled with 16 foil-wrapped and holiday-themed milk chocolates.

    The counting fun begins on October 16. Kids open a flap each day, enjoying a treat hidden below each flap and viewing the number of days remaining until Halloween marked on each flap. A "countdown pal" on the pack of the package provides a spot for kids to color in the days as each flap is opened. For additional fun, a Halloween picture is printed on each flap and kids are encouraged to find that picture in the spooky cemetery scene printed on the back of the Countdown Cal box.

    The artwork on the package is delightfully eerie, but not too scary for little counters (and chocolate eaters). The milk chocolate treats are manufactured in the USA by RM Palmer Company and are certified Kosher.

    My one suggestion for parents and grandparents sharing Countdown Cal with your kiddos: Read the directions. It took me a minute to figure out which flap to open on which day, as the numbered flaps correspond to the number in which they should be opened, not the date or days remaining. I opened—and ate—my sample candies out of order, as I didn't heed the directions.

    Countdown Cal retails for $11.99 and can be purchased at Discounts of 5-30 percent are available, depending on quantity requested in a single order—which is great for grandparents with lots of grandchildren counting the days to Halloween.

    Disclosure: I received both products above free for review. Opinions are my own.


    Bouncing good time: One Step Ahead Bounce-A-Round review and giveaway

    What's more fun than a bouncy house? Not much, especially when it's a bouncy house for kids, a bouncy house you can set up indoors or out, a bouncy house from One Step Ahead.

    One Step Ahead, a super spot for grandparents and parents to purchase the coolest of cool kid toys and more, sent me one of their popular Bounce-A-Round inflatable jumpers to review plus an offer to give one away to my readers. So I blew it up using the included double-action hand pump (it took me 15 minutes, which was far better than I expected) and placed it in my living room, ready to be reviewed.

    The Bounce-A-Round is designed for ages 2 and up, with a weight limit of 120 pounds total (two jumpers at a time, max), so I clearly needed to call in some kids for the jumping. Since my grandsons live 815 miles away and wouldn't be visiting any time soon, I called on the cutest little guest reviewers—Milo and Caden, children of friends: 

    I could blather on in text about how the review went, but as pictures are worth far more than my meager words, I'll share with you the photos of how that review went.

    First up was Milo, a few months under the recommended age of 2 but nonetheless ready to jump with joy, with Mom nearby.


    Then Caden arrived. Immediately his shoes were removed (as recommended) and he climbed on in. Caden, at nearly four years old, better fits the age range the Bounce-A-Round is meant for, and it's clear he took full advantage of all its bounciness:


    The Bounce-A-Round is far larger than I and the moms of the reviewers expected. The One Step Ahead site gives the dimensions as 46"L x 48"W for the inflated jumping area, with walls, inflated, of 32" - 38"H (on top of the height of the inflated base). The base inflated is 66"L x 77"W. With all that space, the reviewers' moms willingly climbed in to pose for a picture with their little ones (no jumping by moms, I promise).


    As with most playthings, it's always more fun when there's a partner in play, and Milo and Caden thoroughly enjoyed sharing the ample space.

    What's up with the darker photos above? After a bit of bouncing as intended, we decided to throw a sheet over the top of the Bounce-A-Round and make a fort out of it.

    It was in that version that the boys had the most fun, and I can imagine the hours of play my fort-loving grandsons will get out of it next time they visit. When playtime is over, there's even a bit o' fun involved in deflating the Bounce-A-Round.

    One suggestion of note: As you can see from Milo's awkward exit, it's best to have a pillow or other soft spot for kids to land when getting out:

    What we loved most about the One Step Ahead Bounce-A-Round: First up is the size. As I mentioned above, the moms and I were quite impressed by how large it is. Also, I was happy the three chambers (base, walls, top rail) inflated so quickly, even without a motorized pump. And I liked the idea the jumper could be used inside or outside, as not everyone has a huge spot for—nor always wants—a massive inflatable toy in the house. (Of course, you'd want to place something underneath when using outside, to protect from pokes that pop, and a pillow at the entrance would be a necessity.) Overall, the entire thing was pretty heavy duty, but I'm glad patches were included just in case the jumper springs a leak somewhere down the road.

    Suggestions for improvement, courtesy the reviewers' moms: Having a flap over the entrance would be helpful, they both suggested, as kids bouncing near the entrance—especially smaller ones—tumble easily out the door. Plus, they thought an included cover for fort-like play might be nice, as the sheet I threw over the top kept coming off.

    The One Step Ahead Bounce-A-Round, previously $99.95 but now $79.95 on the One Step Ahead website, comes with a 100% lifetime guarantee, the very same guarantee given every item sold by One Step Ahead.

    As mentioned above, One Step Ahead is giving away one Bounce-A-Round inflatable jumper to a Grandma's Briefs reader. With the holidays coming up, what could be better than winning such a bouncing good time to share with the little ones at your place or theirs? Enter here:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received the product above free for review, as well as the offer of one for a giveaway. Anecdotes and opinions are my own.


    3-2-1 Penguins! Win Season One

    When I was a kid, Saturday mornings meant hours in front of the TV watching animated (and live action) characters such as H.R. Pufnstuf, Archie and Josey and the gang, Bugs Bunny, Pixie & Dixie, and that always infuriating Woody Woodpecker.

    When my daughters were kids, Saturday mornings featured Pound Puppies, Muppet Babies, Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

    Saturday mornings for my grandsons? Well, I'm not so sure Saturday-morning television holds as much charm for them as they did for my daughters and me.

    Perhaps that's partially because they've yet to discover 3-2-1 Penguins. As I'm no longer in charge of what kids, mine or otherwise, watch on Saturday mornings, I hadn't heard of the flightless space birds. That is, until I received the 3-2-1 Penguins! Complete Season One DVD free for review. Seems Zidgel, Fidgel, Midgel and Kevin are apparently quite popular and must-see TV for many youngsters on Saturday mornings.

    Do the kids in your family know about 3-2-1 Penguins? Do you? Here's a taste of the fun I had the privilege of sampling:

    What I loved most about 3-2-1 Penguins! Complete Season One: The silly space pals are entertaining, but I especially liked that the Grandma to the two human characters—Michelle and Jason—has a fairly prominent spot in their lives and in the show. I also appreciated that common sense (and a good dose of faith) made the difference in solving the crisis of each episode.

    What I didn't love so much: That grandma mentioned above? Well, she's the stereotypical grandma—gray hair up in a bun, chubby, clothed in a dress and apron. Plus, you never see her face. Just a pet peeve of this grandma who wishes the media wouldn't support the out-dated stereotype of grandmas.

    3-2-1 Penguins! Complete Season One features 13 episodes—nearly 5 hours running time—plus bonus features such as a recipe for Midgel's Cool Blue Space Fuel and directions on how to draw Midgel. 3-2-1 Penguins: Complete Season One is from Big Idea Entertainment, the makers of VeggieTales, and can be purchased for $14.99 on the VeggieTales website.

    Enter to win 3-2-1 Penguins! Complete Season One! Enter via Rafflecopter below and you just might be the winner, selected by random Oct. 3, of five hours of animated space penguin fun.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway  

    Disclosure: I received a free DVD for review and the offer of one for giveaway, to be shipped to the winner by the sponsor. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.


    Veggie Tales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too: A review and giveaway

    I have two grandsons, ages four and one. They're brothers. Which means the youngest is forever wanting to get involved in what the oldest is doing. It can be frustrating for both boys at times, and the idea that little ones can do big things, too, is the underlying theme of many conversations in their household.

    That's also the theme of the most recent VeggieTales release, titled appropriately, Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too. The DVD is a collection of stories—so far easier for little ones to follow than one full-length movie—about the big things performed by little ones. Most of the stories are biblical retellings, VeggieTale style, but the collection also includes a lesson in listening to your parents that's based on Pinocchio, only instead of Pinocchio and Gepetto, Pistachio and Gelatto are the stars. (See? VeggieTale style!)

    Here's a peek at the fun—and important messages—featured in VeggieTales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too:


    What I loved most about Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too: VeggieTales stories never fail to make me chuckle, thanks to the sprinkle of irreverency and subtle humor meant for adults in the midst of the fun and messages directed at children. I was happy to see the pea characters having a larger role than usual in each story (they are indeed such sweet peas), often reminding me of the chorus in Greek tragedies and tales.

    My favorite part of every VeggieTales DVD is the interviews with the Veggie Kids, as I love their nasally, rambling musings on important matters. This DVD took that feature one step further, courtesy a Behind the Scenes extra that shows the real kids as they answer the questions that were then made part of the animated feature. So cute. I always wondered if they were real kids, and that they are.

    VeggieTales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too is available for $12.99 from the VeggieTales website as well as other retailers, online and off.

    But can win your very own DVD of VeggieTales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too. Here are the details:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of this DVD for review, as well as an offer of one as a giveaway prize. All opinions are my own.


    Need a little time away? Enter to win the AARP Healthy Living Sweepstakes

    The band Chicago long ago waxed melodically that everybody needs a little time away. That we all do. And why not use that time away to learn how to live longer and healthier? Better yet, why not learn the ins and outs of healthy living while staying at an award-winning retreat and spa. With a guest. For free.

    It can happen, courtesy of AARP.

    As a non-profit organization with more than 37 million members, the AARP advocates a healthy lifestyle as part of its overall mission to support independence, choice and control in the lives of Americans 50 years old and older. In light of that mission and in celebration of healthy living, AARP presents the AARP Healthy Living Sweepstakes.

    The grand prize winner of the AARP Healthy Living Sweepstakes (one lucky winner) will be awarded a trip for two to the Red Mountain Resort, a wellness retreat and spa in Utah. The prize includes 3 nights' accommodations, air and ground transportation to and from, plus daily guided hikes, fitness and healthy life classes, cooking demos, wellness center events and spa treatments.

    There are also daily instant win prizes available, with one winner per day. The daily prize is winner's choice of either a $20 Visa gift card (great for purchasing healthy groceries!) or a radio/pedometer in one.

    The AARP Healthy Living Sweepstakes is open to registrants 45 and older, and everyone who registers is entered to win. Extra sweepstakes entries can be earned by testing your healthy living knowledge through a series trivia questions. Official rules and prizing info can be found here.

    The very most important official rule to be aware of right now: The sweepstakes is open only through next Tuesday, September 25, with the grand prize winner being drawn September 26. So head on over today to the AARP Healthy Living Sweepstakes.

    What better way to celebrate healthy living—and to get that well-deserved time away, too. For free.

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.


    Exergen TemporalScanner takes the fear out of fevers - Review and giveaway [CLOSED]

    When my girls were babies, one of the scariest things I faced was having to take their temperature when they seemed to have a fever of any degree. I was scared to death my wriggly and unhappy little babe would surely bust of a thermometer I'd placed in her bum rendering her far worse off than she'd have been if I'd been a bad mom and ignored her feverish cries.

    Shew. I'm so glad those days are over. If only I'd had an Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer back then. I recently received free for review an Exergen TemporalScanner, and the high-tech temperature taker is surely a must-have for any mother. Including grandmothers, as they will undoubtedly come in handy any time a visiting—or resident—child seems to have a fever of even the slightest degree.

    The Exergen TemporalScanner allows a parent or grandparent (or any adult, for that matter) to simply stroke a child's forehead with the gadget to accurately gauge a body temperature within literally seconds. Two seconds. Without having to stick anything of any sort in any orifice. Not in a bum, not in a mouth, not even in an ear.

    The Exergen TemporalScanner is the home version of those used in hospitals and doctors' offices. It gauges body temperature by capturing the heat emitted from skin over the temporal artery, which runs across the forehead and is directly connected to the heart via the carotid artery.

    Not only is the Exergen safe, quick, easy, and non-invasive, it's accurate. Plus, the Exergen TemporalScanner will identify a rapidly changing temperature far sooner than a rectal thermometer, which can be vital, especially considering the lag time for a rectal reading could be 60-90 minutes on infants and children up to age 12, and up to several hours on an adult.

    Not that I want my grandsons to be ill any time they visit my house, but next time they seem feverish or out of sorts while here, I'll be happy to take their temperature with the Exergen TemporalScanner. And they will surely be happy to never have to undergo a thermometer up the bum, at grandma's or at home.

    The Exergen TemporalScanner—named one of the smartest products of the decade by Inc. Magazine—is a great gadget for grandparents and every household to have on hand, as it works not only on children, but adults, too. It's also a super gift idea. The scanner retails for $99 and is available at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Costco, Babies R Us, Toys R Us and Sam's Clubs nationwide. For more information, visit

    Thanks to a generous offer from the Exergen folks, I'm giving away to one lucky reader an Exergen TemporalScanner ($99 value) to keep for themselves or to give to a loved one as a gift. Simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below to be entered. Entries accepted through 12:01 a.m. EST, Sept. 19. One winner will be drawn Sept. 19 and immediately notified by email for shipping information as prize will be mailed directly from an Exergen representative.

    Disclosure: I received the featured product free for review, as well as the offer of one free product for giveaway. Opinions are my own.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway