Awhile back I had a site called Reciprocal Waltz. I was a regular blogger for awhile, then a not-so-regular blogger, then I stopped updating entirely. For years.
I’ve decided to resurrect the site, under this new URL. So much has changed in my life since I last blogged, and much of it is very good changes. I have a fourth child. My older three kids are a lot older now and all four of my kids are just amazing people. I now own a house in the suburbs of Atlanta, instead of living in a small town in Georgia. I have an awesome job as an Happiness Engineer at Automattic supporting WordPress.com customers. My husband no longer works in retail management but instead works for the federal government. Life’s really good right now.
I’m going to go through old posts and import them here, maybe upload a few new pictures, too. So look for some content to be added slowly over the next few months.
(One quick note: I used fake names for my kids in previous blog posts. I haven’t decided how I’ll handle that going forward. Update forthcoming.)
I’m currently hiding in my office area drinking coffee. I am exhausted, and the living room is far too messy for me to work in.
But you know what? The exhaustion was from one of the best trips I have taken in a very long time, and the living room is messy because I set my suitcase of swag down on the coffee table and we just dug in.
Off the top of my sleep deprived head, here are my take-aways in very random order:
1. Address from President Obama? Best way to open a conference EVER.
2. There were some pretty awesome panels, too. (iPhoneography & Telling Stories With Pictures were my two personal favorites.)
3. Comfortable shoes are a very good thing. I ended up in flip-flops on Saturday because the shoes I wore Wednesday gave me a blister about 5 hours in, and then my previously trusty dress flats made the blister worse. Oops. I thought the fact I’d worn Wednesday’s shoes for a few hours straight was enough. Nope.
4. You can skip the parties and still have a blast. I did.
5. I’m now addicted to Twitter.
6. I worried far too much about what to wear.
7. I work with some pretty awesome people.
8. I missed my husband and kids by the end of the weekend, but it was still really nice to get away by myself.
Updated June 2018. The links in this post are outdated, but I still love the product!
Back in September, my friend Grace compiled a list of curated subscription boxes that you can get through the mail. (Here is her most recent version of the list, from May 2012) I have tried a few of the beauty boxes, but what I really had my eye on was this curated box for kids called Kiwi Crate.
And then, right after I started our subscription to Kiwi Crate, BlogHer and Kiwi Crate got together and sponsored a review program and now there are a million reviews out there in the blogosphere about these activity boxes. Oops. Oh well! This review is not sponsored, I am receiving no compensation for this review and all thoughts are my (and my 5 and 4 year old’s) original opinions.
I ordered a box + a sibling kit. The box itself is 19.95 a month, and then the added materials for a second child are 7.95 a month, for a total charge of $27.90. They do also have an annual subscription option for one crate (no sibling add on) that is $220 a year – you receive a free month with the annual subscription option, so it is not a bad deal.
The actual box we received was the Growing Gardens box, which shipped mid-April. Due to end of the school year craziness, we didn’t get around to opening the box until the end of May.
My first impressions of this box were extremely positive. I opened the nice, sturdy cardboard box that everything came packaged in and was pleasantly surprised by two pairs of Fiskar scissors sitting on top – one for each child. The scissors were a bonus add-on because it was our first box, with a note saying that some of the activities would require scissors, so they thought they’d send us a pair to get started.
Digging into the box, I continued to be impressed with the quality of the materials. Some of the materials are brand name – Fiskar scissors, Crayola Model Magic Clay, Sargent brand colored pencils. The stickers and booklets published by Kiwi Crate are nicely illustrated and printed. Very kid friendly while still looking polished.
The first activity was called “My Window Garden”, where you planted bean and squash seeds in clear plastic envelopes and hung these envelopes on your window with suction cup hooks. You started with these little “Wonder Soil” tablets, put the tablets into the envelopes, and then squirted them with water (a 3ml dropper was included) to make the dirt tablets open and expand into enough dirt to grow seedlings.
The kids LOVED this part of the activity. They got to count! and play with dirt! and water! and then plant seeds! I especially liked that the seeds were vegetable plant seeds – beans and squash. If these plants end up surviving, we may even get vegetables from this little project, which would be pretty neat.
Once we got the seeds planted and watered and hung on the windows, the kids got to draw pictures on the plant labels. Above is my oldest’s depiction of the sun helping the squash grow.
The kit came with Observation Journals that the kids could fill out once a week for four weeks to track how their plants were growing, and instructions on how to transplant the seedlings.
I don’t know if it is because my 4 and 5 1/2 year old both have low-average fine motor skills for their ages, or they just didn’t quite get the concept – but the journal was only so successful. My 4 year old ended up just scribbling for both weeks that we’ve journaled so far. My 5 1/2 year old drew a picture the first week but just scribbled the second week.
To be fair to them, the spots to draw a picture in each week are only about 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches. I would have made the journal spaces larger if I had designed this kit to compensate for kids who just aren’t quite ready to draw small pictures yet.
After two weeks, the seedlings were big enough to transplant to pots outside. This part ended up being almost 100% an adult activity. So far so good though – we now have beans and squash growing in (separate) containers on our front stoop:
I’ll keep everyone updated as to if the plants actually grow anything…I’m not holding my breath. It is somewhat late in the season to start seedlings, we’re using pots, and I have a Grim Reaper thumb. Haha.
The second project was to make decorative pots. Kiwi Crate included pots, clay, pipe cleaners and cutout flower/leaf shapes to make flowers, colored pencils to color the flowers and leaves with, and sticks to draw on the clay. The kids really enjoyed this project and it filled up a nice solid hour of boredom on a rather rainy evening.
So, what did we think?
Overall, my kids loved this box, and that they got fun mail. They give it a solid two thumbs up each.
Me? I love the concept, and really enjoyed doing these projects with my kids. Was it worth the $27.90? So far, I’m going to go with yes. While I could have collected the supplies for cheaper (using clear plastic cups instead of the envelopes to grow seeds, using colored pencils and such that we already had around the house, buying little pots from Michaels, etc), my time is worth something too.
That is really where Kiwi Crate shined, in my opinion. A box showed up in the mail, ready to go. I was able to open the box, read the instructions, and do an activity with very little effort. And the activities were educational, to boot.
Long term, I think we’re going to get a Kiwi Crate box every three months or so – they do let you put your subscription on hold and then restart it, so you don’t have to get a box every month. Hopefully future boxes will be as good as this one was.
If you want to try a Kiwi Crate box, feel free to use my referral link to get $10 off your first box. They also currently have a promo code for $5 off – 15KFAN.