Gifts for Kids: Sparkle Box Children's Christmas Book Giveaway

My kids love books. Even though my 7 year old brings home at least 3 books a week from her school’s library she still gets excited when she gets a new book all her own. I love that she is so into books and gets excited to receive new ones. Books are great gifts for kids and there are several books that will be under the tree for my kids this year, including The Sparkle Box.


Sam can’t wait for Christmas! He’s excited about the parties and the food and, of course, the gifts. One present in particular has Sam curious—a sparkling silver box on the mantel. Sam’s parents will only tell him that they will open the gift together, but that they need to fill it first. Throughout the holiday season, Sam and his family participate in various charitable acts together. On Christmas morning, Sam finally gets to open the Sparkle Box, where he finds slips of paper recording the family’s good deeds during the holiday season. Sam’s parents explain that the things that they’ve been doing for others are, in fact, a gift for Jesus. Sam realizes how fortunate he is and how important it is to help others.

sparkle box book

The Sparkle Box Features:

>>10 x 10 picture book
>>32 pages
>>hardcover with jacket
>>includes fold-out glitter box
>>Available in bookstores everywhere and on Amazon.

This book is written by, Jill Hardie, I was given the opportunity to ask her a few questions about herself and her book:

Can you tell us about your family tradition with the Sparkle Box, how did it begin and how did it change your Christmas?

To help counter commercialism at Christmas, my husband and I began giving gifts to those in need, in honor of loved ones. While people seemed to like these gifts, one family member good-naturedly confessed, “I loved the gifts you used to buy me for Christmas!” My husband and I had a heart-to-heart talk and asked ourselves, “Whom are we really honoring with these gifts?” The answer was clear. We were honoring Jesus by giving gifts to those in need. That Christmas Eve, a gift was placed under our tree for Jesus. On Christmas morning, we opened Jesus’ gift before we opened our own. A simple, small gold foil jewelry box with a few pieces of paper in it was perched on top of a pile of presents. A tag on the outside said, “Jesus, we give these gifts to you to honor you on your birthday.” I opened the box and read the pieces of paper that represented the gifts we had purchased. A gift of a goat that will provide milk to a poor family. Mittens for the mitten tree at school for people that don’t have money to buy them. A shoe-box full of toys and candy that will bring joy to a poor child somewhere in the world. A feeling of peace and love came over me as I read those pieces of paper. My husband and I were moved to tears and our children were also touched. It was a profound experience. We had honored Jesus on his birthday and that centered everything. Every gift that morning was twice as wonderful!

Since then, we have continued The Sparkle Box tradition every Christmas. We love choosing gifts for Jesus and talk about what we’re getting Him for weeks in advance. It centers the season on Jesus and remembering those who are less fortunate, and that puts everything in perspective. It makes the simple joys of the season even more enjoyable and melts away the pressures of the season. Our children have learned that they truly are blessed to be a blessing–and they’ve learned the joy of giving.

    – What are some practical and low cost ideas for how families can fill this box with gifts for others this holiday season?

You want to give something that is truly from the heart to Jesus. Something that shows Him you were thinking of Him when you chose The Sparkle Box gift. So while it doesn’t have to cost money, it should be something extra special. So for adults or families, they may want to do a service project. They could work at a soup kitchen, or volunteer to shovel a neighbor’s driveway every time in snows this winter. There are many lonely people at nursing homes. Adopting a person at a nursing home would be a beautiful gift. For children, the gift could be something small. Like Sam, they could purchase a pair of mittens. Or they could do chores to earn money and actually go grocery shopping to purchase 2-3 non perishable food items. Children love to earn the money themselves, so it’s not the cost of the item, it’s how it impact their hearts. There are more ideas on as well as a free printable chore chart, free Sparkle Jar craft instructions for children to make a jar to save money for Jesus’ gift and more. 

    –What do you hope readers will come away with after reading this book?

For adults, I hope they realize that there is a simple and beautiful way to center Christmas—honor Jesus on Christmas day with a gift just for Him. For children and adults alike, I hope they come away with the feeling that they can make a difference in the world by letting the light of Jesus shine through them, bringing light and hope into the lives of others.


Win it: Win your own copy of The Sparkle Box simply by leaving a comment telling us your best “Sparkle Box idea”, what gift or good deed could your family do together to help someone in need? The giveaway will end on November 28 and is open to US residents.

The giveaway portion has ended, our winner was selected via, comment number 11 (the 1st/top comment being #1 and last comment being #11) is our winner, congrats!


Step2 Corvette Toddler to Twin Bed with Lights

My son is now 2 (as of today!). You might recall about 2 months ago he started climbing out of his crib. We knew it was time to get him a “big boy bed”. I searched online for options and decided that a toddler to twin convertible bed would be ideal.  We wanted a bed that is not too big for him now but also one that can grow with him. Since he has really taken to cars lately and loves all things cars, we thought the Step2 Corvette® toddler to twin bed with lights was the perfect choice for my son.

step 2 toddler bed

Delivery and Assembly

We received the bed via home delivery and when my son saw the box he smiled so big and exclaimed “car!”. He was extremely excited, the joy on his face was priceless. I have to admit I did wonder what assembling this bed would require, but it was fairly easy. The instructions were thorough and easy to follow.

step 2 toddler bed

Here are some photos of our Step2 Corvette Toddler to Twin Bed set up process:

car bed

car bed for kids

car bed for kids

car bed for kids

The assembly of the bed was not difficult. It was a little time consuming as we were just using a regular screw driver. I recommend using a screw gun or automatic screw driver for a faster set up process, just be careful not to strip the plastic out.

car bed for kids

Toddler to Twin Conversion

As I mentioned above this bed is a toddler to twin convertible bed and can be changed simply by swapping out the mattress. For now we are using it as a toddler bed with his crib mattress. Once he gets bigger we can put a twin size mattress on there for him and he will be able to use this bed for years to come. There is actually a race track in front and up the sides of the bed and when using a crib/toddler mattress it can be accessed and the child play on this with his little cars (very cool, my son has a blast with his cars and this bed)…

step 2 corvette bed for kids

He even falls asleep on the race track ;).

sleeping toddler


The lights on the bed are another feature that I love (my son loves them too, of course). The center light is a tap light that automatically turns off after 15 minutes to conserve the battery.


The bed is low to the ground, he can easily climb in and out of it without getting hurt. The “windows” and sides of the car serve as railing and prevent him from rolling off the bed while he sleeps.

Buy it: This bed can be purchased on the Step2 website for $329.99 plus $29.99 shipping. For more information visit the Step2 Corvette® Toddler to Twin Bed with Lights page. Check out the video below to see this bed in action:

 If you are looking for an entire themed bedroom suite they also have the matching Corvette® Storage ChestCorvette® Dresser, and Corvette® Room Organizer available that are sold separately on the Step2 website or you can purchase the bed, dresser and storage chest on Amazon for $545.95.


Disclaimer: This blog is not affiliated with the Step2 Test Drive Mom program or This blog is independent of the Step2 Test Drive Mom program.

Gear Up Your Tots With DynoWear- GIVEAWAY

Winter is poking its nose out of hiding. Weather is getting nippier. Warm clothes are slowly resurrecting from the back of our closets. With winter on its way, we all know how our little ones will be hitting the outdoors to practice their most favoured activities. One of them being, unsurprisingly, skating. When your kiddos throw on their skates and head off to the skating rink or grab the sleigh to venture the slopes, how confident do you feel about your child’s safety? Do you ever feel a tad uneasy about a possible injury? How about gear… do your children have all the necessary gear for when they will be hitting the ice this season?

Take Your Child’s Temperature with Ease: TemporalScanner Review

I have been wanting a temporal thermometer for checking my kids temperature since I first saw them in the Dr.’s offices, I just never did “spring” for one. I finally got the chance to get my hands on one and I love it! The TemporalScanner from Exergen is great!

Temp Scanner

The Exergen TemporalScanner is:
>>fast (only takes 2 seconds)
>>extremely accurate
>>gentle and painless

 Price: $30-$35 depending on the store and location

This thermometer is quick, convenient and accurate. It measures the body temperature by scanning the skin over the temporal artery. The temporal artery is directly connected to the heart by the carotid artery and has constant blood flow needed for accurate temperate measurements.

Temporal Thermometer

To perform a reading you simply remove the thermometers plastic cover, press and hold the button, lightly run the scanner across the forehead, then release the button, you should then have an accurate body temperature reading…

Temporal ThermometerTemporal Scanner

and an undisturbed child…

Temporal Scanner

The Temporal Scanner is definitely one of those mom must-have items, when a child is sick the last thing you want to do is make them even more uncomfortable. The Exergen TemporalScanner can be found at Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Babies – R – US, Costco, RiteAid and other retail stores.

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Win it: It’s giveaway time! We are giving away one TemporalScanner Thermometer! This giveaway is open to residents in the US and will run from Aug 16- Aug 30! Enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Looking to Get Your Company Noticed? See Our Summer #Advertising Specials

Thank you for your interest in advertising your company with us, from now until September 1 we are offering discounted rates on our advertising services. Howard House Reviews is a family friendly blog that features a wide array of topics, products and companies, from  beauty and fashion to kids and home and garden. Expose your brand to our readership and get noticed! Claim your ad space on our blog today.

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Toddler Classic SWIMTRAINER Float System

My son has always been a water baby. Since the day we brought him home from the hospital he has loved baths and it has always been a way for us to calm him down when nothing else will do the trick. So, naturally he loves to swim in the summers. This summer we’ve been fortunate enough to have the SWIMTRAINER. The SWIMTRAINER is a very handy floaty for babies, toddlers and even younger kids who are learning to swim.

SwimTrainer for Toddlers

The SWIMTRAINER is different from your average floaty, though. The entire device, including the straps, is inflatable to help keep your child afloat. This floaty has a center that supports the child’s midsection, and puts them in the swimming position to aid in their learning to swim. These features along with clasps all help secure the child further and prevent them from slipping off the floaty.

Toddlers Swim Safety Float Device


>>Ideal swimming position in the water
>>Fast and easy to put on with clip fastener
>>Inflatable pads to prevent slipping through
>>Adjustable safety belt to prevent tipping forwards

swimtrainer reveiw

The swim trainer is super easy to use. It doesn’t take long to inflate it, usually I am horrible at blowing up pool floaties (I guess I’m not so full of hot air), but this one blew up in a cinch. You simply put your child’s head through the inflated straps, fasten the clips at the back:

SwimTrainer for Toddlers

My son really enjoyed being able to float around on the SWIMTRAINER, like I said he loves the water and was totally content in this floaty the entire time we were at the pool.

pool safety for babies toddlers kids

Here is a helpful SWIMTRAINER Instructional video, showing you exactly how it works:

The SWIMTRAINER comes in the following sizes:

>>Approximately 13-40 lbs
>>Helps a little one get comfortable in the water
>>Helps teach correct leg movements

SWIMTRAINER “Classic” Orange
>>Approximately 33-65 lbs
>>Helps teach correct arm and leg movements

SWIMTRAINER “Classic” Yellow
>>Approximately 45-80 lbs
>>Helps transition a child to swimming without any floatation device


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Win It: Enter our giveaway and WIN a SWIMTRAINER, giveaway ends June 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST.


My Job Chart: Financial Literacy for Youth

mjc financial literacy

  •, an online chore chart was designed to teach young people the concept of responsibility, work ethic and the value of money by giving them a way to earn points for completing their chores.
  • The free site has always offered a way for young users to ‘spend’ their points on rewards they want, ‘share’ what they earn with a chosen charity, or to ‘save’ for the future.”
  • Kids are able to experience the tremendous rewards of earning money for themselves and then of accumulating that money and saving for the future. As they do this they will get a $20 bonus into each child’s account just for signing up for a kids savings account.
  • My Job Chart is easy of use and the high-tech approach have made a hit with more than 140,000 kids in just over a year since its inception with kids completing over 9.4 Million chores using the site!