Top 2020 Christmas gifts for the whole family

Top 2020 Christmas gifts for the whole family

This year, I feel especially thankful for a great life🙏🏻💯 with people I love and purpose for good. The feeling during the holiday giving season bring home people and give me time to slow down and show appreciation sometimes as a gift! These are my favorite family gift ideas this 2020 holiday 💕 for mom, dad and kids.

Our holiday gift guide contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases to help keep the coffee flowing.

2020 Gifts for Mom and Dad


Echo Auto

Echo Auto


This Alexa enable Echo device works with your phone’s Alexa app to enable your vehicle to have Alexa through your Bluetooth or Aux input! No battery required.

Amazon.com


Handmade Candles


Buy a wonderful gift for her that is actually made in the USA. This Fiverr seller offers a variety of handmade candles that ship in 2 business days. This Fiverr seller will make these candles for you in a favorite of scents including French Vanilla; French Lavender; Blueberry Muffin; Apple Cinnamon and; Cranberry Mandarin.

Fiverr.com


AAA Gift Membership


Want your new teen driver, family member or friend to have roadside assistance and more? AAA offers peace of mind knowing they are covered in roadside emergencies plus travel perks!

AAA.com


Gifts for the Whole Family Christmas 2020


Sony PS4


With the recent launch of the PS5, now’s the time to grab a PS4 as these are on sale with steep discounts! This incredible game console has a long list of entertainment uses including games, music, TV and more!

Amazon.com


Yo Ring

We just received Yo Ring in the mail and are super exciting to try this out as a family! My kids love to play outside and this seems like a perfect fit for all ages who like activities! Available in red, yellow and blue single or 3-packs. “Everyone Is Talking About The Pocket-Sized Yo Ring That Sails Through The Air And, Eventually, Lands On Your Finger.”


YoRing.com


Froggy’s Lair African Dwarf Frogs BioSphere

Froggy’s Lair African Dwarf Frogs BioSphere

Froggy’s Lair Best-of Influencer Content


I’ve had my Froggy’s Lair 1 gallon Biosphere in my office for a few months now and they give me a calming relaxed vibe. These frogs are the definition of chill. They relax and vibe out and bring a touch of nature to my workday space, which I enjoy. The Frogs have been named Swimmy One and Swimmy Two, mostly, Swimmies. I love feeding my Froggy’s Lair frogs and my kids also help feed Swimmies. The frogs are active but they relax and vibe out often. More recently Swimmy One hangs out near the upper half of the Biosphere on the baboo plant stalk under water. They come up for air infrequently, the frogs seem to enjoy feeding time and are very-very low maintenance, feeding 2 times per week and easy tank cleaning every 3 months or so.


FroggysLair.com


2020 Holiday Gifts for Kids


PowerHaus by Adventerra Games

@mattwsweeny

@hollandale964 & @coolkeller playing PowerHaus #boardgame

♬ original sound – Matt W. Sweeny

Oliver, River and Keller played PowerHaus by Adventerra Games North America. I noticed while we played PowerHaus that we learning quick, fun tips about how to save on our home’s energy bills! This board game provides an ingenious way to teach my kids how to save money by using less in at home. PowerHaus is age-appropriate for kids and teens and adults too (lol). The eco-board game showed us tricks we didn’t know too. For example, we can save on our electricity bill by unplugging unused appliances and phone chargers, when not in use. Reading the game directions is required to learn gameplay and PowerHaus was fun and challenging. We even had success playing with three players! A great cooperative family game. 💯


AdventerraGamesusa.com


iHeartArt art kits by Bright Stripes

@mattwsweeny

Thanks to BrightStripes.co #brightstripes #iheartart for the art supplies! @coolkeller

♬ Elevator Music – Bohoman

 

The Bright Stripes art kits are the perfect gift for creative adults or kids because of their high-quality and excellent price! Keller had such a different idea of what to create with his iHeartArt kit as he used dots of the paint and added water to make shirls. Watch it all in the TikTok video above. We also tried out the LED Candle Critters creative art project where Toli was able to paint an LED candle-light designed as a Fox! Candle Critters are available in fun varieties like Unicorn, Mouse, Turtle, Bunny and more.

BrightStripes.co


Blue Snuggle Monster and bedtime book companion from Continuum Games

 

ContinuumGames.com


Fungisaurs Dino-mushroom hybrid toys & AR app

Fungisaurs Dino-mushroom hybrid toys & AR app

This summer we first tried out Fungisaurs which turned out to be fun to play with outside as well as inside the house. Outside, we posed our Fungisuars around the garden and in the yard using the AR iOS app to render our Fungisuars on screen! Check out the top #Fungisaurs posts.

Fungisaurs.com


Jambo Books Club subscription

 

JamboBooks.com


Talking ATM Machine by Thin Air Brands

 

Toli had fun sharpening his math skills with the Dr. STEM Toys Talking ATM machine! This is a great holiday present for kids! Follow Thin Air Brands – Dr. STEM Toys on Instagram • @DrSTEMtoys

ThinAirBrands.com


Card Games by TREND Enterprises

Card Games by TREND Enterprises

Since we’ve had our new card games from TREND Enterprises in the house, an often asked question I hear is, “Can we play Gemz?” What that, I’m proud to announce, it’s Official! Our favorite game to play with Sami is definitely Gemz From TREND Enterprises. Thanks to @TRENDEnterprises on Instagram for the holiday game image above 😉

TRENDenterprises.com


Corduroy plush Tiger from TriAction Toys European importer

Triactiontoys.com


Whatsitsface emotional plush Kitty-Cat pal

 

Sami had an interesting and fun time making the same emotional faces as his Whatsitsfacetoys kitty cat. Whatsitsface identifies six different emotions and our plush cat had sam challenged to flip to a face then mimick how the toy’s face looks on our face! It’s great practice for conversations about feelings, emotions, and being human. Whatsitsface has recently even been nominated for Plush Toy of the Year by the Toy Association!


Whatsitsface.com


Check out more of my fun content on TikTok • @mattwsweeny and Instagram • @matt.w.sweeny.

Feature image by Canva.com

Overlooked must-have soft-roading supplies for 4x4 trips

Overlooked must-have soft-roading supplies for 4×4 trips

Feature photo by @zschrubb on Instagram

I drive a 2008 Honda Ridgeline which suits my needs for fun, comfort and long family road trips. Recently, while weathering the storm of our stay-at-home order and trying to find some outdoor fun, I discovered a network of non-paved gravel roads which are fun to explore and which weave the Wisconsin countryside with views of farms, hills, creeks.

I’m also planning to take my family on a camping trip where we’ll take my Honda Ridgeline truck on an overland soft-roading trip. This will mostly involve gravel roads in BLM, DNR and other County Highways in hopes of some outdoor fun! The terrain will be gravel roads, filled with sand or mud and if my vehicle gets stuck, I want be prepared to recover back to stable ground.

Honda Ridgeline off-roading
Photo by @triaglehonda65

While we explore these unpaved roads I’m collecting a toolkit of 4×4 supplies which I will carry in my truck in case of a slide-off or need to pull someone else back onto the road.

There’s a lot of supplies that should not be overlooked or forgotten on an off-roading adventure and packing my 4×4 will require planning to have the needed equipment as well as researching a safe route.

I was not provided product or payment for these recommendation of must-have off-roading supplies and the opinions stated here include my own opinions. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Don’t overlook these 4×4 soft-roading trip supplies

If you are sleeping, cooking or using supplies in your vehicle, leveling off your off-road 4×4 with leveling blocks and balance will provide a handy and comfortable straight footing and don’t expect to find rocks nearby to balance your truck.

Air compressor

This can be used to inflate a tire with a slow leak, fill a spare tire or fill an air mattress. If you plan to air-down tour tires, you will need to reinflate them when hitting the pavement and an air compressor is essential for this.

88P Compressor Kit with 16 foot air hose
Air compressor for up to 33 inch tires, available from TireTack.com

Tire deflator

When you drive in sand and rocks, it’s a good idea to give your ride the most comfort and traction by deflating your tires to accommodate for the terrain. Some circumstances need 15 psi and below and a tire deflator can do this quickly and with exacting precision. Air down tires to 20 psi for dirt and gravel roads and 18 psi for sand. Lower tire pressure creates a larger foot print.

0-60 psi tire pressure gauge with pressure release valve from Carid.com
Tire pressure gauge with pressure release valve from Carid.com

Winch recovery kit

Don’t mess with getting stuck. It’s going to happen and you can’t always rely on getting help from a passerby with a winch on their vehicle. Most off-road winch recovery kits include:

  • Winch line dampener (which doubles as the kit bag). “Winching using a Steel Cable is one of the most dangerous aspects of vehicle recovery as the cable stores kinetic energy. If the line or a connection point breaks under pressure, it can become a deadly projectile. Always use a Winch Line Dampener to absorb most of that kinetic energy if a break occurs.”
  • Heavy duty snatch block
  • Tow staps
  • Tree saver strap
  • Heavy duty gloves
  • D-ring shackles
Off Road Recovery Kit
Off-road recovery kit techniques from the Recovery Kit on Amazon

Recovery straps including tree saver and snatch straps

Tree saver, winch strap, tow strap


Shackles or hitch shackle and hitch lock

Hitch shackle for 2 inch receiver
If you don’t have safe tow points on your truck but you do have a hitch receiver, use a hitch shackle

Photo by @h4rdwar3

Electric winch

Electric winch for an off-road truck
Typically, you should buy an electric winch with 2-4 times the pulling weight of your vehicle. For my truck which has a GVW of just under 5,000 lbs, this 10k lb winch is perfect for my needs

High-jack, wheel chocks and jack base

With loose ground when changing a tire, your vehicle’s stock jack set is not going to suffice.

Hi-Lift Jack


For instructions on how to winch from another vehicle or other winch points, here’s information from towmart.com:

If you get stuck, you may have to rely on another vehicle to pull you out. The simplest way to do that is to use a couple of shackles and a snatch strap. Keep the kit in easy reach of the driver’s seat.

The snatch strap needs to have a minimum breaking strength of three to four times the weight of the vehicle you plan to use it with. They’re made of nylon and are designed to stretch. This helps add a little extra tug to your tow.

Three-and-a-quarter-ton shackles are the right choice for connecting one end of the strap to the recovery point on each vehicle.

When you attach the shackle to the recovery point and strap, make sure you tighten the pin completely. You should then back it off a quarter turn or so. This lets the required flex happen without harming the threads. 


Traction mats

These must-have items will get you out of deep mud or sand, sticky wet snow and make sure to get four! Off-road traction mats also double as low profile leveling blocks and don’t forget to turn off tour VTM-4 so your tires spin together on each axle. And don’t plan on using floor mats, you will see these mounted on 4×4 roof racks or bumpers for a good reason!

Photo by @great.white.ridge
Photo by @great.white.ridge

Long or small shovel

Digging out is difficult at best when you encounter a stuck vehicle and is a most important recovery vehicle you’ll be glad to have even for burying compost or a small fire pit.

Small shovel


First-aid medical kit

Off-roading will put you in the middle of nowhere and when an emergency happens, you want to be prepared with first-aid supplies. Plan on this and check and refill used items each excursion. Shop for or make your own full medical kit as a simple first aid kit will not be enough for your OHV adventure.


All-terrain tires

Consult your owners manual for the original equipment size tires to fit your vehicle. In my case, I’ve done a ton of research and am very knowledgable about tires so knowing that my Honda Ridgeline comes with OE size 245/65R17, I’m still able to fit certain brands of 265/65R17 tires with a tread width of 8.5 inches or less. Below is the list of my favorite all-terrain tires for my Honda Ridgeline RTL. I recommend using tirerack.com to purchase new all-terrain tires as they provide free shipping to all lower 48 continental USA States and will ship direct to your local favorite auto shop and have a great selection.

Firestone Destination A/T2

Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015

Hankook Dynapro AT-M


Tools

This may seem obvious but is often overlooked! If you don’t already have a stocked tool bag or box in your four wheel drive supply kit, you can simply buy a full tool set too! Make sure your tool kit includes vice grips, oil for tour truck, extra gasoline, a hatchet and hammer, drivers, sockets, wrenches, gloves, a tire plug kit, pliers, WD-40 or other rust-removal item, lighter or weatherproof matches, headlamp, wire, rope, zip-ties, duct and electric tape and of course a multi tool.

Photo by @zschrubb
Photo by @zschrubb

Fire extinguisher

There’s different kinds of fire extinguishers however on an off-roading 4×4 trails camping trip, you’ll want a B-rated (liquids fire) and C-rated (electrical equipment) fire extinguisher in case of the worst!


Snatch block

Want to double your winch’s recovery power? Yes, a snatch block tool will provide this essential ability.

Snatch block


Grab handles

These support handles can be installed on the inside of your off-road truck on back of head rests, pillars, doors and cross members, to provide grip in those “oh sh!t” moments where passengers will want to grip tight even while buckled.

Universal fit headrest grab handles


Heated blanket

Find a heated thermal blanket which is large enough for two people which plugs into your cigarette lighter to stay warm inside tour vehicle or around the fire.


Jerry can or gas tank

While we plan our off-roading trip route, we may find it handy to have extra gasoline which should always be mounted on the outside of your vehicle.

5 gallon gas can for vehicle with pour spout


Deadman anchor

If you need to winch out of stuck location but you don’t have a second vehicle to assist and you don’t have a tree, giant rock or other super heavy object to anchor your winch to, you will need a deadman anchor. This winch anchor is a tool that lets you create your own winch line anchor point.

Deadman earth anchor

How to use a deadman earth anchor


Additional suggested off-roading supplies (from members of the Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Facebook Group)

  • Change of dry clothes – because you never know when you have to get out and rig a winch line, spot your friend or walk a trail ahead of your truck while it’s raining
  • Two-way radio CB – “not all areas get cell phone reception.”
  • A hat – the sun can be hot as hell!
  • Batteries/flashlights/bug spray/sunscreen
  • Camp chair – to relax and to enjoy the small things in life.
  • Snacks – because when you stop, you’re going to have the munchies.
  • Chain saw (with blade oil, sharpener and eye protection) – for taking down fallen trees on the trail.
  • Manual bow saw and machété 

For more information about must-have Off-road 4×4 supplies, review the Wisconsin Off Highway Vehicle Association’s Safety Checklist:

Click to access ohv%20safety%20checklist.pdf

Off-roading trail tips

Other must-have off-roading supplies resources

You’re ready for an off-roading OHV adventure!

BOREDOM BUSTERS & CREATURE COMFORT TOYS FOR HOUSEBOUND FAMILIES

Boredom busters for families staying home by KidStuff PR

Originally posted by KidstuffPR.com

Helpful Hints To Conquer Two Weeks (Or More) Of Social Distancing, The New Normal For Kids And The Grownups Who Love Them

(March 16, 2020) – In every generation, kids have gravitated to a stuffed animal, a security blanket, a favorite story in times of stress. These welcomed childhood passions gave comfort once the lights turned off or when feeling sad. Never has there been a better time for kids to maintain their childhood innocence and peace of mind with toys or stories than now. KidStuff PR, play experts for over 25 years, have some tips for ordering toys & games, podcasts and crafts online to keep fear, sadness and yes, boredom at bay.

Read this as a PDF

Parents and grandparents have been watching the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, across the globe and in their states. The new normal in many neighborhoods is to stay home for days or weeks avoiding school, religious services, movie theatres or Spring Break vacations.Read More »

5 Essential Back To School Safety Tips For Milwaukee Families

We’re proud to bring you a back-to-school safety article which, this time is a guest post by Donna Fitzgerald who is a mother of two and enjoys journaling in her free time. She also enjoys traveling and sharing her experiences with readers. You can visit her blog at goodhomehealth.net

With the end of summer coming to a close, you’re likely packing away summer gear and hitting the back to school sales. Every new school year is a bittersweet experience whether your kids are starting kindergarten or entering the halls of a middle school.

Here are some safety tips to consider while you and your kids are preparing for a brand new school year.

Kids with School bus

School Bus Safety For You and Your Kids

Even if you drive your kids to school, there’s a good chance that your child will ride a school bus at least a few times during the school year for trips or extra curricular activities. While you can expect that your child’s educators may teach some bus safety tips and appropriate behavior, it’s a good idea to remind your child how to enter and exit a bus safely, stay a safe distance away, and to always cross the street when it’s safe.
Read More »

Dirt-cheap cabin glamping in beautiful SW Wisconsin

Are you wanting an inexpensive rustic weekend cabin with a covered front porch?

Tucked away in the woods of Southwestern Wisconsin is a nook of four cabins, at Black Hawk Lake Recreation Area. Highland and Cobb, WI are the towns closest to the Black Hawk Lake and the park office has ice, bait, firewood (including kindling) and more. Look for the store at the turn for the park road which has a great selection of camping, fishing, hunting and adult party supplies!

The great find at Black Hawk Lake Rec Area are the four rustic cabins. The favorite (photos below) is Cabin #4 however Cabin #3 has an amazing view. The privacy and forest cover cannot be beat at Cabin #4 but the kicker is these cabins are all inexpensive at $70 (plus fees) per night. Check the Black Hawk Lake website for seasonal cabin pricing discounts and for more photos.


Read More »