The Mommy's Guide To Events!

Products we Love! And Their Reviews!

  



          Madame Alexander Doll Company Cuddle Baby Nursery Doll






   Madame Alexander has the perfect baby doll for your child's pretend nursery.  "The Newborn Nursery Cuddle Baby Collection" is a line of baby dolls like no other.  They are designed to look and feel like a real baby, and they do!  The way the doll feels as you hold it is almost as if you are holding your own little baby in your arms- it sort of made me want another one.. Only if it promised to be THIS quiet. The doll has plastic limbs and a soft but HEAVY body. Now when I say heavy I don't mean that your little one will not be able to carry it, but compared to other "life-like" dolls, this one actually looks and FEELS like a newborn.   The face is beautifully structured with bright shinning eyes, a perfectly sculpted little nose and angel-kissed, red hued lips that are slightly ajar for bottle feeding.  My little baby girl came in a pink sleep sack with matching skull cap.
One hand is curled and she is able to suck her thumb, while the other is artfully crafted to look as if it is at rest.  For any little girl (or boy) that is begging you for a baby doll, this is the way to go.  It is made of a far superior quality then anything I have yet to see in this area of the market and will take a licking and keep on ticking.  The clothes are machine washable and you are able to buy more clothing and accessories for the line (which are just as cute as real baby clothes, I CANNOT STAND IT)  so your child has a lot of options for them in the wardrobe department.  Adults that are buying this for someone they love also have a lot of options when picking out their loved one's cuddle baby. There are all sorts of different hair, eye, and skin tone combinations that you will absolutely find a perfect fit for your child's imaginaryfamily!
    This is a perfect fit for any family that  is getting ready for a new baby.  It is a PERFECT example of a newborn baby size-wise and even weight-wise when it comes to feel.  You can help your child get ready for his or her new sibling with this little darling.  Not only is it a very special gift- which will make them feel special -but it can help them get used to how to hold and act around the new-comer.

    For whatever reason you choose to buy this doll- you're making the right choice.  Madame Alexander makes the highest quality dolls that will no doubt become treasured family heirlooms (like it is in our family). This baby doll will stand the test of time and make its way into your child's heart as well as imagination.


* I am a Madame Alexander Mom Panel member and received this doll to review. But COME ON- who wouldn't love this- all opinions are my own!



                   Tips And Toys Review

   Wouldn't you love it if a subscription toy box for your child came with not only instructions, but fun ways for your child to learn and grow with the products themselves.  Yeap that would be swell... OK guys see you later... OH WAIT!

     There IS a box like that, and it is affordable and kinda brilliant.  Tips and toys is a subscription box developed by experts in pediatric development.  They do all the work of researching the best toys in the industry to not only give your child a great way to play, but also help develop those basic, but super important, cognitive skills.
     Every month that you subscribe you will get a box full of fun toys that will also be the best in the biz for your child's learning.  Even better you are going to get a nice pamphlet of tips that will help you guys play in an educational way (yeah I know that rhymed, I am impressed with myself)

   We received two boxes for two different age groups to review.  The first one is the baby box priced $59.95.  This set included the "Look Look" book written by Peter Limenthal($6.99), Lamaz ($6.99), Oddball Classic ($6.99), Sassy Mirror ($25.99) Taggies little crinkle blanket ($20.00)  and a envelope full of amazing tips and tricks to let your child make the most of their new toys!  For example the "Look Look" book.  Everyone thought I was crazy when I started reading to my son at one month old, but I have been validated!  This black and white book is the easiest visual style for your child's eyes.
     Reading will increase your child's curiosity and simulate herneural synapse connections. LOOK AT THAT! For my friends that are reading this- I told ya so..... maybe not in such big words, but still!
It even tells you how far away to hold the book from your child for her optimal viewing.  Come on- your telling me you knew that?
    Besides getting an array of toys at a good price (I looked up all the prices and you are saving well over $20.00 including the tax if you bought these things separately) but you are also learning WHY these items exist.  When I had my son I thought that the arm rattles were a gift from god keeping my kid entertained for a good fifteen minutes while I could you know- relax.  But in truth it helps with your baby's body awareness.  It helps them learn how to pay attention to something and focus on that item.
    I learned so much from a box full of toys and a few index cards.  I have plenty of babies coming into my life soon and I feel like this would be a wonderful gift for them.
     With tips and toys, you get amazing high end products and explanations for how they benefit your child.  It's written in such a way that you don't feel like your stupid for not knowing this already. Creators Sara and Jane are professionals in the field, moms themselves and know that its impossible to know everything about everything.  The tips are written like a mom guiding you rather than screaming at you- and I LIKE THAT!!!!

     The second box that I received was just amazingly timed in this house.  I am trying to get my son to write his letters. Its hard and annoying and I try and make it fun but I am kind of failing.  Tips and Toys sent me their Pre-writing Adventure Set ($35.95) and it made me jump for joy.  This included Jaw Bones 12 piece set ($9.99) Magic Pictures ($6.99) Triangle crayons ($2.99- I love these things! I reviewed them for Crayola and they are an amazing tool in writing development),  Jungle Fun Farm ($5.99), and activity lacing ($10.00) and finger paints.  This box is amazing and honestly its not because of the toys that are included inside- although they are great- it is because of the tips.
   I am pretty good at teaching my son the necessities of life we were all on top of the ABC's, 123s, colors, shapes, rhyming and alike but I am really having a problem getting him to write.  Both of us get distracted easily, and I just can't think of ways to make writing a letter over and over again be fun.  This box included two packets of pamphlets for the adults to read. It explained how the toys included helped your child's fine motor development and to exercise those tiny muscles in their hands so they are prepared for writing skills.  It has one way to play with the toys, and then how to extend the play later on.  Take the finger paints for example- the easier play is honing your child's creative skills and using their fingers at the same time.  The extended play is using the paint as a tool to create letters, a maze and more.The second pamphlet gives you amazing ways to really advance the strength and dexterity of the fingers, and developing palmer arches. Everything your child will need to "learn" to write correctly.  This box has changed my approach completely when it comes to trying to teach my son how to write. I couldn't be happier!

     Want to learn more about the creators behind Tips and Toys, and the company itself. Well we were lucky enough to do a Q/A with them that I will share with you!


       MGOn the Tips And Toys "About Page" we learn that the inspiration for these toy boxes were 
born after putting a box together for her daughter's entertainment for a long road trip. 18 years 
later we are able to get these customized boxes on our doorstep. How did you get from 
entertaining your own kids to entertaining our kids?
     Jane: For me, it actually worked the other way around. After many years of working with kids, I
finally got the chance to “teach” and “entertain” my own child using the skills I developed as a
therapist. My daughter was always a prime guinea pig for new developmental games and
activities. And, she loved it!
      MG: How do you choose which toy is best out of everything on the market?
     Jane: We choose from a lot of therapy "faves." Sara and I also visit the New York Toy Fair each
year to get a hands-on look at all the latest and greatest products coming out on the market.
While it is often difficult to find toys specifically targeted towards foundational skills at
traditional toys stores, our trips to the Toy Fair have never failed us in finding really wonderful
products. 
     MG: Do your boxes change month to month for the same age range? Or is there progressiveness
to the boxes that are given in the monthly subscription. ie: There is more intercity every month. 

     Sara: We have found that families particularly value having boxes that target the types of skills
they are hoping their children will learn. The original Tips and Toys philosophy was for each
child to get each of the 5 boxes in order to address the various primary areas of foundational
skills. At this time, the boxes are available o purchase individually or as a complete set. The
contents of each box are geared for 3 to 5 year olds. As we continue to develop more boxes we
will design boxes for more specific age groups which will become progressively more
challenging. For example, the box you received would be the Getting to Write 1; we hope to
offer a version 2 and 3.




     MG:  Both Jane and Sara co-founders of the company are very accomplished. Jane is a practicing 
pediatric physical therapist with over 30 years of experience, while Sara is a pediatric 
occupational therapist. Dedicating their lives to helping children with development issues. Why 
did they choose this course of work?
     Jane: I have always loved kids, science and medicine. A career in physical therapy was the
perfect combination for these passions. But, the reason I stayed with it after all these years is
because I feel so fortunate to be in a field where I can see a measurable difference in children’s
lives as a result of my work.
      Sara: I’ve always been a people person and have always liked to analyze and understand how
people process and how I can intervene to impact children’s ability to learn and succeed in
school. When a child first comes into our office, we make it a point to look at the overall
development of the “whole” child so that we can have a comprehensive approach in developing
their therapy programs.



   With founders like these, I can fully support this product and was happy that they sent me their boxes to review.
Go check it out for yourselves: http://www.tipsandtoys.com





              Treasure Trax Game Review!



     USAopoly has come out with a great new game for kids Treasure Trax- The all in one scavenger hunt game. Guys this is great. The game comes with everything you need to have a full on scavenger hunt any day of the year (Easter Bunny beware they are going into your territory!)  It comes with three sets of cards and the bag to collect them and store them in.  One set has a picture of areas all over the house. Give your child the first card that has a picture of where the next is hidden. So if you give them a picture of the bathroom- they will have to search the bathroom for the next clue. But make sure if you send them in the bathroom that it is clean lol.  That clue can be another location card or a clue card that has the color or letter of what animal they are looking for. Yep that is the third set of card- the object of the game is to find that hidden animal by following the clues and sending them on a chase around the house!

   I love the fact that you can make this game as long or short as you want. Have a long rainy day in front of you? Make the kids go insane by hiding the cards all over the house- use all the levels, use all the locations, just go crazy. Or if you are just looking to kill a little time before bedtime, set up only a few locations, and you have your little one using their brain and the extra energy of the day to tire them out even more!  You can even use it as a party game, and set up little prizes at certain locations.  The possibilities are as endless as the fun you are going to have playing this with your little guys.

   This game is available for $19.95 and can be bought online at USAopoly.com



                   Wild Kratts Toys: Review




     Get ready adventurers because the new line of Wild Kratts Toys have hit the shelves of Toys 'R Us!  Wicked Cool Toys have designed the toys that represent the hit PBS TV series, and they did a great job!  If you are unfamiliar with the show (which airs everyday on your local PBS channel) it is a live action and animated show that follows the adventures of the two Kratts brothers.  Every adventure explores an age appropriate science concept central to an animal's life.  Using laughter and education, the show has won the following of legions of kids, as well as parents' approval.

     Who doesn't like a good plush, especially a well made one.  The Wild Kratts Wildlife Plush assortment retail for $7.99, and come in a variety of characters.  They are six inches and super soft, and durable.  Made for many adventures- and even to survive a vicious poodle attack! 
     The four piece figure set will also have your little adventurer going wild!  Each set are retailed at $9.99 and includes one of the two Wild Kratts and three animal figures, and 4 collectible creature power discs.  Chris and Martin are ready for action, wearing their full creature power suit! They are well painted sturdy replicas of the beloved characters sure to excite the little ones in your home.
     By far my favorite in the line is the addition of Wild Kratts BOOKS! Yes, yes I am trying to raise a bookworm like myself and I think it is working.  We really enjoyed the first book in what I hope is a long line of series printed by Random House Kids.  This Step 2 reader features basic vocabulary and short sentences to tell simple, yet exciting, stories!  

     Only available at Toys 'R Us, this toy line is going to be a huge hit just like the show.  If you have a young Wild Kratts fan remember it's never to early to stock up for Christmas! They will go wild over the line and you will walk away with a smile on your face!





   Schleich New Line Of Peanuts Figures and Boxed Sets

                        
     There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that I love more than watching Peanuts specials during the Holiday season.  I have such great memories of watching them on channel seven with my family, or the VHS dubbed copies at my aunt's house over and over again.  So this year at the New York Toy Fair when I saw that Schleich was coming out with a line of holiday inspired sets, my heart soared!  The German company that has been around since the dark ages--or when we were young--and makes the most addictively collective figures ever.  

     When I was about six or seven my aunt lived in my grandmother's basement at the time.  On her dresser right before you entered her room was lined with what seemed to be millions of Schleich Smurfs.  I loved them!  Now I will neither confirm nor deny this but as her story goes the Smurfs in question would disappear every once in a while.  And while I am not saying it happened, I may or may not have taken them--and I may still have a few of them lying around as well as the Snoopy bride and groom figures... Fine I took them!  But the point is (yes there is a point) this company produced one of my and my aunt's favorite memories.  They continue producing figures to this day that are fun like the Snoopy and Smurf line, as well educational products such of animal and dinosaur lines.  They are still of the highest quality.
        

     The Snoopy figures I received for review are perfect in every way possible.  Each one is sturdy without being too hard, with a slight flexibility that can take a little bend without breaking.  The paint is flawless with no smudging or misplacement.  The small lines that make up the faces or the curl swirl of Charlie Brown's hair are perfect.  When you purchase figures like these or even a different kind of figurine you can see flaws that often happen with mass production: a slip of a line here, a small blotch there. They may even go unnoticed without hard core inspection. But on the twenty figurines that I received there was not one mistake and not one flaw. There is something to be said about that.

     In Schleich's newest Peanut line there are three figure boxed sets--and the first one is just in time for Halloween!  "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" is a Halloween must see for millions and now they can collect the beautifully crafted boxed figures.  This set features Linus leaning confidently against a pumpkin, Charlie Brown in his flawed ghost costume holding an empty paper bag and a rock and Snoopy in his flying ace apparel.  The packaging is a gorgeous night time blue with pumpkins in the front and back to set the scene, and a big bright moon with a black silhouette of the flying ace himself. You almost don't want to take them out of the box--almost. There are also cute little known facts printed on the side. This is a must have for a true believer and fan!
                 

     Also available is the Christmas set complete with Snoopy's dog house, Charlie with his tree, and Snoopy sporting a green cap.  The box again is beautiful but this time with a snow blue background filled with snow flakes and snow men.  The third box set is the semi-evil Lucy teasing Charlie with the infamous football and an up-eared Snoopy.  There are 11 other loose figures as well featuring four variations of Snoopy, including one as Joe Cool.  There's also Charlie looking sullen, a grumpy Lucy, a smiling Sally, a waving Franklin, Woodstock, and an appearance from the beautiful Belle.  All of these will make those old fans and new fans doing the Snoopy dance of joy when they receive them from someone they love.  In fact I may be inspired to possibly return payment of Smurfs to my aunt- maybe.



    Make Halloween Fun with Shadow FX



                                             

     Crayola is awesome- I figured I would lay that out there before I get started so you know how I feel. They make such great family friendly products that simply amaze me every time each year.  We received the Shadow FX to use for some Halloween fun and it worked out great.  This is a kid's sized projector that has big results.  The kit comes with a light console that has three lights and four buttons for different color combinations and flashing.  First choose a stencil and then draw on the clear screen with the magic erasable marker.  Then place the screen on the secure holder in front of the lights and presto-chango your wall is now your work of art! 

    It is just that easy- and you know what's easier- turning it into a shadow puppet theater! Yes ma'am my son and I had a blast turning our living room into a haunted trick or treat parade!  Here's how you can make your own. First Google shadow puppets.  Yep whip out your smartphone and find the printable that suits your needs. We found ours at todaysmama.com.  She has a great tutorial about how to make an old school shadow puppet show; we just modified it a little for our purposes. We printed out the clip art on our awesome HP printer (hey this HP mom panelist is proud!) and we colored them in.  Yeah I know we are turning off the lights but I figured instead of using black card stock paper we would color them in and laminate them for multiple use.  That and my son loves nothing more than cracking open a new package of crayons. After that was done I taped the pictures onto straws and they were ready to go!  Next  we took one of the included prints, the haunted mansion, and used it as a stencil for the magic marker and screen. After drawing it out we set it up with the green light shining because that would "look spooooky" as per my son.  It looked so cool and we played with it for the next hour, making up different stories and adding moons and bats to the scenery. After that we just drew pictures and had non-themed fun for the rest of the time.  He did however make me re-draw the Halloween scene so that it would light up his room with "Halloween" before he went to bed.

     Honestly this is one of the coolest things I have come across in a while. It is affordable, easy to use, and the possibilities of different ways to use it are pretty much endless.  You can do the same thing I did for Halloween for any holiday--draw a polling booth for goodness sake and celebrate Election Day!  Moms can even use it for their DIY projects.  Instead of buying an expensive projector you can use this little guy to create silhouettes of your family and stencil pictures onto your wall or piece of furniture. I am telling you you can do a million things with this little guy.  








 Ever wonder what a My Little Pony- human hybrid would look like?  Well you don't have to wonder any longer- the My Little Pony line has come out with the Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks series!






     A magic mirror connects the world of MLP to Canterlot High, and those poor little ponies are now going to have to go to HIGH SCHOOL!  Yes that's right the six true blue pony friends are turned into teenage girls that are full of "fun and fashion!" In 2014 music rules the Canterlot Highschool, and Twilight Sparkle and her pals compete for the top spot in the "Mane Event" (get it) talent show.

     Hasbro has come out with a line of Equestria Rainbow Rocks dolls that will have your little ones rocking and rolling right along with their favorite characters on TV.  We got to review Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle and the little girl in me wants to brush their LONG LONG colorful hair, and the grown up in me wishes I could actually get a pair of those shoes.




     Fluttershy  is rocking pink, green, and purple hair with a pink and gold outfit and a pair of butterfly headphones.  Her trademark butterfly birthmark is over her left eye and she has a small pair of green wings and ears on the top of her head, making for a very unique looking doll that your little one will love! Twilight Sparkle is definitly my favorite. She has lavender skin with an outfit that KISS would be proud of. Her purple, pink, and silver outfit has a little bit of tulle on the bottom and silver metal-like spikes covering her right shoulder, spikes on her heels, and a microphone around her head.  She too has her trademark star birthmark over her left eye and purple wings.

     If you are a MYP fan or a Brony you are going to love this new twist on the MLP line.  Although I think it is super mean for anyone to go to high school- especially if you live in a magical land with castles and rainbows. I believe the kids will get a kick out of playing with these hybrid dolls and watching them stumble thorough their new world.

   These dolls are available now and ready for you and your little guys to play with!








                                             Mirari Line Of Baby Toys- myPhone

Patch Products are happy to be bringing you the Mirari line of baby toys, including the new myPhone.  A niPhone parody, this neutrally colored phone is filled with 12 buttons that light up and play songs and sounds. It is lightweight, so the tiniest of hands can lift it up, and if they drop it unceremoniously on their head Mom doesn't have to worry.  The volume is soft enough to not overwhelm the younger children on the spectrum and high enough to peak their interest.  You can record your own ten second message and there is even a remote to turn it on randomly and keep baby interested.  The phone will ring and then play the message you recorded.

     Interactive phones have been a long standing toy in the households for years.  Something from the time you are born until adulthood makes the phone an absolute must have for the average human being. What's great about this phone is that it is interactive but not overbearing. The colors are relaxed without being overwhelming and its tones are gentle instead  of in your face. It really is a perfect fit for the 6 month plus range and is a great starter toy phone.  It helps develop cognitive learning, sensory development, and imagination.  The recording ability is the feature I love the most- other than that it turns off after a certain amount of stand alone time.  The remote is what Mirari is most excited about and it is a great feature- however you need to be way within the 25 foot range as well have no objects interfere with the signal between the two. It will take more than one try to get it to take, but when it does the kid is super cute and surprised to not only see the phone ring on its own accord but to hear the customized message that you recorded.
     All in all I find it a wonderful product for the six months to over one year aged kiddo in your life.  It really seems as it was designed with your child in mind from the smallest detail to the overall construction.  Add in the fact that the remote DOES work if not a bit inefficiently and you are really getting a great toy for the twenty dollar range that the child in your life will get full use of!


What Do Bicycles, Skates, and Skateboarding All Have In Common With Pillow Pets?



     Ah Pillow Pets- you have to love these cuddly little (or sometimes rather large) comfy guys.  Funny story as to how I was introduced to Pillow Pets: It was during the first wave of their launch and my little one wasn't even a year old. My sister had a terrible cold and even with night timecough syrup could not get to sleep. She was watching TV and saw the commercial for Pillow Pets and decided immediately that my son had to have one. She bought him the cow, and my son slept with it for two years. If he didn't have it- he panicked, if it feel on the floor we panicked. Now even though he doesn't NEED it to sleep with every night- he still carries it everywhere. It goes in his tents, on the couch, under the table. That cow has gone places- side note they really come out of the wash great! With that kind of reaction from kids around the nation- we couldn't wait to see what Pillow Pets had coming this year at the NYTF.

     What they came up with is something that was a bit unexpected from a plush line-Tricksters Helmets! That's right, Pillow Pets are coming out of the bedroom and onto the streets with these new plush inspired bicycle helmets!  Made of high quality and super soft chenille, these guys have come out in five characters so far. They comply with CPSC ASTMf1492 safety standards and there is also a special fitting dial that makes the Tricksters helmet fit perfectly. I saw them in person and they are gosh darn cute. I'm not kidding. I don't even say gosh darn, but these helmets make me want to say it! These guys are available now and are retailing at $29.95  www.trickstershelmets.com

     Another cute branch coming out of the Pillow Pets tree is the Pillow Pets toothbrushes! These little guys talk to your kids for the two minutes suggested brushing time. They are available at Walmart now and are super cute!
                                        










                                                                    
     Angelina Ballerina has been dancing her way into our hearts for years. Now she can dance with your child!
The Madame Alexander Doll Comany  has a cloth 18 inch Angelina that is pretty enough to go on your shelf, but durable enough to play with.  As we know Madame Alexander is a personal favorite in this house,
and you have to admit when it comes to dolls they know their stuff.  With the amazing details and special touches in every stitch your child will feel like she is dancing with the real deal!  Angelina is all dolled up in her Swan Lake attire. She has purples eyes and a satin bow between her two adorable ears.  She has the classic white and blue tutu made from glittered tulle fabric. In a word this "plush" is beautiful.   There is nothing more perfect than getting something special for the little one in your life and watching them open up the perfect gift, their eyes all wide, their screams of excitement (for once). When they see





the most beautiful version of their favorite character right before their eyes! The show, which airs on PBS (another one of our favorites) and is just such a sweet show that is just a joy to watch. (especially when you are used to Transformers and such!)  
    What's even better is all the variety of Angelina dolls they have. There are different outfits including but not limited to PJ's, a tap outfit, and the original pink outfit! There is even a 12" cloth doll with a tote filled with outfits. Your little ballerina will go nuts when she receives this gorgeous doll at her first recital, school graduation, birthday, or just because. The only problem is, which family member will be the one to give it to her!




 Say The Word!, the great new game from Peaceable Kingdom is a hoot and a half! This cooperative game is for three people or more and can really be played with children as young as three years + as well as being a great adult game.





     The purpose of the game is to remember the story as it progresses with each turn and each new word that every player adds to the lineup.  First you pick a character card- this will be the star of your story.  Then you pick a word.We picked the pizza delivery man, and in this case we got “ripe” as our first word.  So I said "the pizza delivery man came to our door with our ripe tomato sauce pizza”. Oh yeah I made it complicated off the bat.  After everyone saw the word I laid it face down next to the character card.  Next up my husband picked a new word card so he said “The pizza delivery man came to our door with our ripe tomato sauce pizza before he fell into quicksand” then placed the card face down.  Getting the picture now? After every turn one person writes down the word that was picked on an included dry erase board. Your goal is to get to at least ten words without forgetting the words and story that each person is helping to spin.  Everyone gets a guess coin, that gives them one chance to get a hint before losing the game for everyone.  You can even throw in a challenge card that will add even more complications (like a story line) into the mix! I am telling you this game is loads of fun.


     The first time we played this game was actually out to dinner with some friends. Yes I am the kind of girl that brings tabletop games and card games out to eat with her- do you have a problem with that? I find that bringing along a game even when you’re going out adds a lot to your dining experience and your time with your friends.  It keeps your hands off the smart phone and in many instances can be used as a fun drinking game -make sure you have a designated driver and babysitter people!  The first round we did ok, but as the hurricanes kept coming we did worse and worse and it was really a fun way to spend the night. We even had people at the next table helping us along and at one point playing with us! Look at that!

     Don’t get me wrong though this game is not just for adults. In fact it is made to help enhance your child’s imagination and memory skills.  My son who is three and has an INSANE memory got as far as seven words before forgetting what went where and when and had no problem playing with his older friends who were 5-7 years old.  The older kids had the giggles when they picked the word 'barf' and made the poor cat lady “barf after she ate cat food!” Oh man did they (and admittedly I ) find that funny!   In fact it is hysterical to see how great the kids' memories are and how shot the parents' memories are. I mean hysterical as in you may want to cry, but funny for everyone else!

     This is just a wonderful cooperative game that is genuinely great for all ages.  A lot of other games say they are great big fun for everyone but they are lying. Peaceable Kingdom has put them all to shame- TO SHAME! with this wonderfully thought out game that will definitely make your Friday night game night something to look forward to when this is in the line up! Thanks so much for letting us review this! I cannot wait to play it again! 





  Stickman Stew is made an appearance at the New York Toy Fair and lucky me -I have one sitting on my shoulder right now! 
      Take the classic stick-man drawing. You know what I am talking about, circle head and five lines representing the body, arms, and legs. The Gold Heart Crew pushed the stick figure to the next level, keeping its stick-like physique but  giving it a soft, plush, sometimes bendable, body with a heart of gold!

     I have to admit it, I am kinda in love with this little guy and so is my son. It's a very simple concept that has morphed into something that is strangely endearing. My Stickman Stew came in a tube shaped clear container that explained what my little guy represented.
"the GOLD HEART CREW™ spends their days spreading respect and love to the children of the world. At night, they meet high in the branches of the STICKLAND™ Forest. Together, they sing songs
in harmony and celebrate the good deeds of the kids they watch over.

      Their motto is "Do like the GOLD HEART CREW™ and be a STEWard of love and respect in our world. Every STEW-CREW™ character has a heart of gold and serves as a reminder that we are all bound together by one common attribute...our hearts. Celebrate our differences but remember our similarities."

   There are four different characters- I received the leader of the pack who is Stickman Stew- "peaceful and gentle soul who spreads respect and love everywhere he goes. He loves to sing Karaoke-when I read this part my son goes "Just like Oma" (German for Grandmother- My Mother In law is a crazy Karaoke singer and talks about it all the time!) and dance".
 There is also StickGal Sal , StickKid Sid and StickGirl Shirl each with their own unique qualities and great qualities. 

      I love the imagination it invokes with its simple yet fun design.  There are bendable ones that you can fit almost everywhere and a larger more cuddly one that is great for sleepy time.  You will find your  toddler keeping it in their stroller, your kid hanging it off their bike, and everyone excited to bring them along on their day to day adventures! I also envision an  Elf on the Shelf  type of play. These guys are so small and cute with such great values behind them I can see myself hiding the little guy all over the house for a good morning hide and seek. Or having Stew appear when he does something good for someone else!  For adults- or child-like adults like myself, I see him being that one item that travels the country and you put in all the pictures!  We actually just did this- Stickman Stew went on his first trip to Florida this past week!

      I also really appreciate the message behind the product. As we know must products are just that- products. Most are for fun and play and to well, make money, but so few actually try and put out a message. So I put this toy in the realm of of products with Stinky Kids- a product with a purpose. with Stickman Stew, you get to let your child's imagination go wild, and help instill great values as well! 

  To learn more about Stickman Stew and his crew go to their site or connect with them on twitter! I am telling you- you will love them as much as we do!


* I was given a Stickman Stew to review- but as always my opinions and views on the item are my own- if I don't like it I don't write about it!








Crayola needs no introductions. This has been a household name since we were all children and will continue to be so for many generations to come.  After our tour into what is in store for the company and the consumer in the year 2014 we got a few samples of some truly amazing stuff!  First up is the ULTRA-Clean Washable markers. Parents do not be afraid to give your child a marker EVER again! This ULTRA (I'm sorry the world ULTRA always needs to be capitilized) marker is strictly made for paper only! It easily washes off of all kinds of hands (yep they cover small and large), clothing and now WALLS! Foil be to the child who wants to ruin a freshly painted wall, or to the wife and/or husband who wants to use their child's markings on said wall as an excuse to repaint. This stuff WORKS, and if you don't have it in your home now, you need to go get it right away.
  Next up is the Color Wonder Line where the markers ONLY draw on the paper it is made for. Not only are there blank pages to let your child's imagination go wild, but also some great coloring books, including superheroes and Bubble Guppies. These are great for the dining room table, road trips, and just kinda awesome in general. You know that these markers are not going to make a mess on your mess free furniture and vehicles! That's the stuff right there.

   My husband's favorite product thus far was the Washable Triangular Crayons. Great again because they are super washable, but more importantly it teaches your child how to properly grip a crayon, leading them into the world of writing, one colorful piece of paper at a time.  I have been using these for my three year old son's letter writing practice sheets that we have been working on and it's amazing how after a few weeks how much better his grip is and how naturally he is holding not only the triangular crayons but all his crayons and markers. So my friends make sure you pick this lot up on your next crayon supply purchase. They are worth it- believe me!







                                   


Marvel Super Heroes have always been incredibly popular with grown ups and kids alike. However with the newer, more toddler geared shows (like Super Hero Squad) they are reaching a whole new high with the masses of ALL ages.  Wonder Forge, who is the maker of such great games like Sofia The First Magic Tea Party and the ever popular Jake And The Neverland Pirates cooperative games have come to rescue with a new Marvel addition.  Marvel Matching brings the classic game of picture-matching memory games to children three and up.  Featuring all our favorite characters and even some that I am not so familiar with, although my son is, this game is a no-brainer for anyone who has a Marvel fan in their home.

       The game comes with a whopping 72 pieces of both villains and super hero friends on super sturdy cardboard pieces that will prove the test of time--and three-year-old game play.  If you have yet to play a matching game with your little one, or your little guy does not usually lean towards tabletop games, I have to insist that you give this game a try. If you think playing tabletop games with your child is passae, being we live in a world of iPad, iPhones and Wii consoles, you are dead wrong.  Playing together as a family is always important, and matching games are very beneficial for your youngster.        
     Categorizing is a huge part of cognition (the process by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced elaborated, stored, recovered and used).  Games that encourage sorting, matching, and classifying are excellent for the cognitive development.  Game play is also a great way to spend time with your family- without a screen and your child will learn valuable lessons this way.  Everyone takes a turn, you don’t always win, and you have to follow the rules. Through gameplay your children will learn valuable life lessons without even realizing it. 
     If you have had trouble in the past getting your children interested in playing a board game and they are fans of the superheroes, and yeah I bet they are, Wonder Forge’s Marvel Match is a great and fun way to introduce them to the world of tabletop while keeping within their interests.  The on-the-spot illustrations and the huge array of characters that they have incorporated into the game will keep them interested.  As a parent if you want to make a “quick” game out of it, you don’t even have to use all the pieces at one time.  Take only half of the characters out of the box and you and your child can fit in a quick game before you have to run out, or keep the game play fresh and sort them into two different piles and your kids will freak out because they haven’t played that set of characters before. 
        With the high quality of the pieces and designs, emotional cognition, and social benefits that come with playing; I have to say that this purchase is a no brainer. 
   This game will be available at Toys R Us, Target and FAO Schwartz among many other retailers.  You can also check out the Wonder Forge website to learn all the locations and to see what other games you need in your life! 

      I am so excited to announce that TMG is now officially a part of the Mom Advisory Board! WHOO HOO! We are so incredibly excited to be partnered up with such an iconic company. For a little over ninety years Madame Alexander has been a HUGE part of little girls' lives and I look forward to keeping you guys up to date on everything that they have to come in 2014!

     First up we get to review one of Madame Alexander's amazing dolls, an 8 inch traditional collectible Maggie doll dressed up as a Tooth Fairy. This doll is Madame Alexander in all their glory.  Her green eyes close and open and she has beautiful curly, Tosca hair and a porcelain face.  She wears a magical
handkerchief-style dress that combines purple taffeta with white glitter, pink and purple tulle.  It all ties in the back with a purple ribbon right underneath her tooth-shaped wings. She wears ballet slippers and has a stunning bow in her hair with what else--a tooth to top things off.

     Opening up the family box brought me back to my childhood when I was given my "Gone With the Wind" Scarlett doll one Christmas morning. The same ooohs and ahhhs escaped my lips as I gently lifted my new Tooth Fairy doll and I was suddenly 11 again.  No matter what age you are, if you are a doll lover you LOVE Madame Alexander--there is no way around it.  My love came from my mother's love of the dolls that her parents gave her as a child.  As I grew older and knew where that love came from I would look at her as I opened my gift and see that she was just as excited to give it- as I was to receive it.  That's what this company is about to me--LOVE.

     The amazing amount of work that goes into each doll, the amount of detail that is in just the Tooth Fairy doll that I received is amazing.  From the paint on her face to every stitch, every eye lash, every curl--this is not your ordinary doll and that's what makes it so special. When you receive a Madame Alexander doll you know that you have received a gift that means a lot. When you give one of these dolls you get a memory for a lifetime.  Seeing that doll find a home in the loving arms of the child (or adult) that receives them will bring a smile to your face that you will not soon lose.



    So if you are in the market for a special gift then bring this little fairy home. Let her beauty charm that special someone in your life and create a memory that will last a lifetime.




eeBoo Review



     eeBoo is a wonderful toy company that produces truly beautiful products that your whole family can enjoy.  Their products are 100% original meaning there is no liscensing and all of their designs are drawn from well known and loved children book illustrators, giving it a very unique and inspirational appeal. I have recently been able to review the eeboo Picture Dominoes and I have to say- I am impressed.

      The cardboard dominoes are over sized and made of 90% recycled gray board and soy based inks.  The art work is vibrant and appealing and the game play which is geared towards ages 3 and up is simple yet challenging enough to keep your child entertained and make those brain muscles work!  You add matching creatures to the chain to keep it going.

Get rid of all the dominoes first and you win! The dominoes are great for a small child's grasp and are truly sturdy for a cardboard set. When they say quality toys, they mean quality toys.



     I also received an Owl Pull Puppet that reminded me of something I played with as a child at my grandmother's house. This truly looks like a piece of art that could be hung on your wall instead of a child's toy. In fact- I may just hang it on my wall.  This owl has purple feathers with some color bursts and a sky-inspired outfit on. He is fully painted on both sides with planets, clouds, star bursts, and small little bells on his toes.  The little guy is fully equipped with a bow tie and pocket watch as well- amazing.  Even the packaging is amazing. He is in a simple plastic bag with an elaborate and gorgeous light cardboard backing that he is tied to and is totally worth upcycling into something amazing.
     The Pull Puppet is aged for players 5 and up, but with appropriate supervision this would be a perfect toy for parent-baby play. The vibrant colors and movements will catch a baby's eye just as much as a peek and boo play. I think it goes without saying that a Pull Puppet can't be given to a child under three- with the strings and all, but to me- this would make a wonderful baby shower gift- just saying.

    This is a wonderful company that truly inspires one to play with their toys and I highly recommend anyone that is looking for a gift outside of the box to shop eeBoo.


        eeBoo isn't sold on their own website,  they are sold across the area in specialty shops and museum shops as well as a sister site geniousbabies.com. You can go to their site directly to find out where the nearest retailer is in your neighborhood!


Two Kits To Keep Your Kids Occupied

                                               


     Tired of going and paying a lot of money to keep your kids entertained on their days off? Well, do we have the kits for you!  New, from Alex Toys and Scientific Explorer this year is My Tape Party and My first Outer Space Science Kit.  These will keep your kids going, and keep you from going nuts.


    First up is the “my tape party”, from the Little Hands Collection.  The Little Hands Collection is specifically designed for preschoolers to learn and develop skills in a creative and fun way.  My Tape Party includes enough material for your children to make up to ten crafts including a crown and a pair of sunglasses- sweet.

Following the instructional guide, that has NO WORDS, just pictures your child can really build everything in the box on their own.  The tape is easily ripped, and your child won’t need help cutting out any of the cutouts as they can be punched out without the help of the pare
nt.  You can be at ease knowing that they aren't using scissors, and therefore do not have to hover over them.  Your child will be gaining a sense of independence, in not only the creative execution but with the material preparation as well.  It's a win-win for both of you! Cleanup was really a breeze, except for excess tape, there was no glue, no little paper pieces, no paint! Add on the fact that you are guaranteed a half hour of quiet per craft, this is a no brainer to keep your kids occupied this spring season.


   
       My First Outer Space Science Kit turns your room into a "Starry Sky!”  This WONDERFUL kit gives you everything you need to bring the stars into your kid’s bedroom.  We started with the Solar System poster that came with fun planet and alien glow in the dark stickers.  We had a great time learning, while decorating, before turning off the lights and turning on the light projector. We put in one of the two film sets included in the kit and turned our walls into the night sky! We read through the pamphlet and learned all about constellations and even worked on making our own that you can put into your projector.
    With the fun facts and activities spread through the instruction manual you will be learning long after you pop batteries into the projector.  Great for kids that have a fascination with the stars, or for parents trying to pass on their love to their children.  It is interactive, educational and fun, my favorite kind of toys- and children of all ages will all oooh and aaaaaaaah when the lights get dim and they find famous constellations on their walls or pitch a pretend tent and lay underneath the stars.  Great for children of all ages, this is a great kit that the whole family will really love.

   * I was given these items to review, all opinions are my own.






 Mcfarlene's New Line Of Rabbids Toys Have ARRIVED!

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        We already told ya'all about the awesome new lines that the AMAZING Todd Mcfarlene is coming out with this year- now we get to share our reviews of some of those toys! Excited!? I know we are!  Ubisoft’s line of Rabbids video games have been turned into an awesome new TV series on Nickelodeon.  Mr. Mcfarlene has designed an incredible line of toys to go with it that are hitting the shelves just in time for Easter!

    We received the Rabbids Plunger Blaster- oh yeah be jealous. This thing is AWESOME.  Well-crafted with a slight velvety smooth finish, this toy could line one of the many shelves we have dedicated to the "adult" line of "toys that Mcfarlene has made in the past. But what fun would that be?  The Plunger Blasters were my favorite mini-games in the video game series and I know they make more than one appearance in the show, so I was so excited to see it so well utilized in the toy line.  This Blaster makes 15 unique Rabbids sounds: Bwaaah, burp, fart, flush, laugh, and scream until your heart’s content. Or until your husband takes it away from you-err your son...You can also put the blaster into prank mode and play a joke on your unsuspecting friends! Which means, it will go off ALL the time. I have hidden it in many areas of the house and heard yelps as it screams out Bwaaaah for absolutely no reason. My favorite spot is under the sink in the bathroom, I mean how funny is that?! This is available RIGHT NOW at Walmart for $12.97, and worth every penny.  It is soooo funny, and if you are a fan of the games, and now the show- you are going to keep on finding it funny even after the 1878493578439754 time you hear the flush sound.  I promise.

   
   Next up in the line is the Rabbids Sound and Action Figures. These two pack toys comes with a crazy action play, and assorted sounds that will have you laughing your butt off.  Made in the same high quality style as the blaster, these little guys will give your little ones some loud and funny imagaplay. (Yeah, I just made up a word) You can even attach them to coats, zippers, backpacks, baby bags or anything else to carry on the go! Great basket stuffers, Christmas stocking stuffers (never too early) or anytime fun for the aunties to bring over for no reason at all! These guys are available at Walmart for $12.95 and as my husband just informed me Toys 'R Us RIGHT NOW.


     So Moms and Dads Grandmas, Poppy's, Aunties, Uncles, now is your time to act.  Get the kids what they want, RABBIDS. If for some reason you don't know who the RABBIDS are, then hurry to the store and buy the video games (the Wii ones are my favorite) check your local listings for the new television show, and hop on to the store before Easter.  Fill up your kiddos gift baskets with these amazing new toys from Todd Mcfarlene!


Hog Wild presents ZipStix! Here is our Review!





     "Prepare to Zip the competition" with Hog Wild's new toy ZipStix! Reminiscent of a 90's snap bracelet, you grab both ends of the Stix and flex into the "locked" position-you will hear a clicking sound.  Then align the hole in the ZipStix to the launcher with the logo facing up- that is important! Hold down the launcher, push down, and the ZipSitx will begin to curl and then launch! Challenge yourself or a friend to see who can crash the most cones, get their ZipStick to go the furthest, or see who will reach the finish line first!


     All of Hog Wild toys are great (need I remind you of the Popper); they all have an interactive attribute that gets kids excited about playing with them and the ZipStix is no different. Given a little bit of time and concentration you can make these guys fly and actually hold a real competition with your family,
friends, and evil siblings- er I mean just the regular kind of siblings. They come in  four different designs: Team Turbo, Team Zilla, Team Blaster, and Team Wild with a variety of ways to play. You can just launch these babies in the air, with the Starter Pack. The Dual Pack comes with 2 Zip Stix, cones for stunts (annnnd targets). The Stunt Pack comes with 2 zip sticks, 3 cones and a  kicker ramp. The Mega Pack gives you the most bang for your buck and is great with more than one child in the home. It gives you 6 Zip Stix, 2 launchers, 6 cones, a kicker ramp, and a quarter pipe ramp.


     These are great gifts to keep your little ones entertained indoors on rainy days. They are great to take outside and use your backyard's or local park's natural terrain to make even more elaborate courses, and great basket stuffers for this up and coming Easter!  I met the reps from Hog Wild during the New York Toy Fair and not only are they promoting great toys, they play with them- a lot. They all stand behind the toys they are promoting which lead to me wanting to be introduced to the brand. I am sure happy I did! I did receive these products for review purposes, but even if I didn’t I would suggest them for you and your family. They are uncomplicated, simple fun. There are no crazy lights or sounds, no beeps and talking back. They aren’t plastered onto a screen or used with a remote control. They are a good old fashioned toy that you use your hands to play with, you mind to figure out how to use it, and your imagination to make them into something so much bigger.




*** And guess what guys! We are going to have a giveaway coming to you with these products coming to YOU soon~ keep a look out! 




Dino Supersaurus Superpower Coloring!

                                     Dino Supersaurus Superpower Coloring!
                                       Brought To You By Parragon Books



                            "It's a fight of good over evil in down-town New Dino City!"

     You get to follow along in this ultra-cool comic coloring book that combines everything my son loves- dinosaurs and superheroes, with everything I love- creativity and comic books, and gives your child a great experience!

     The Evil villain T-Rex is causing trouble and only the Supersaurouses can stop him! Doc, Steg, Terra, and Trix make up this league of good guys and together- along with the help of your little one- they will save the day!  The illustrations are just great, mixing in great detail with a cartoony feel and using a mix of pre-colored and coloring ready images on each page, letting your child’s creativity fill in the rest of the page. This not only keeps a prolonged interest in the book, but it also gives them a sense of accomplishment because without them the comic would be only half done! There are also various pages that have a hunt and find, where you child has to help the Supersaurous gang find certain objects they need. We love those- I mean who doesn’t. Reminded me of my Highlights days! The story itself introduces your child to an art that I fully support- comic book reading. In my eyes any way that you can get your child to participate and get excited in the written word is a good thing. It is a little bit difficult for a child to catch on to at a younger age- but can be so exciting for them once they learn! This is a great introductory into that genre and I love that they chose that style of writing to make this fully interactive reading experience.

     Wait! There is more!  It also includes a flip book that has two different "stories". It was funny because as a rebel teenage youth I used to make flip books out of everything, and it took me reviewing this book to realize that my son actually has never seen one. He was completely blown away and it led to us making our own- although less well drawn- flip book!

     So what do you think guys- did I like it? You betcha bottom dollar I did! *What exactly does that mean? Bottom dollar- is that dollar less valuable then the top one?  Jenny I think it means your last dollar -C Oh but I digress.  Dino Supersaurus Superpower Coloring! has a little bit of everything that is wonderful in this world  and I think you should run out and fill your child's Easter basket with one of these bad boys instead of a chocolate egg! 




Jake and The Neverland Pirates ShipwreckBeach Treasure Hunt Game by Wonder Forge


       Kids three and up will be going out of their tiny little minds when they get Jake and The Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game by Wonder Forge! Everything about this game is fun, even setting it up!  First you lay out the treasure map with all the doubloons face down.  Then everyone goes around the house to "hide" the treasures together -everyone will need to know where they are!. After the treasure is hidden everyone goes back to the map and takes turns flipping over two coins at a time trying to match them up. There are five treasure doubloons and five invisible treasure doubloons.  Those are cool. In order to find out what is on them you have to use the spyglass! (AWESOME). After a player makes a
match, you grab the sword (oh don't worry it's foam, we only bring out the real one on special occasions),  flip over the sand timer and go and retrieve that treasure! You have to bring it back to the treasure map while still ON the foam sword before time runs out! If you make it back in time you get to keep the doubloons.  If not the coins go back on the map and the treasure goes back to its hiding spot to be found again! To make things even more fun there are Captain Hook And Smee doubloons that you not only get to keep, but let you move around all the coins on the treasure map and give you ANOTHER turn! The person who has the most doubloons at the end of the game is the WINNER!

   What a fantastic inventive game. I couldn't believe how well made the pieces were (the treasure map turns into a great storage bag) and how "out of the box" Wonder Forge made this board game.  Yet another Disney favorite, Jack and The Neverland Pirates is a huge hit with the little ones as well as the adults (yeah we rock the CD in the car every day).  Wonder Forge yet again totally understood its audience and the show itself, making the game a real life Jake and The Neverland Pirates adventure! Your kids will not only work on their memory skills, by remembering where the matching coins on the board are and where the treasure was hidden in the house. But they will have so much fun running around the house trying to beat the clock and get the treasure that they may even need a nap afterwards!  I have discovered by reviewing Wonder Forge that when they produce a game they don't just go out to make a buck, they sit and think what will best represent a brand and how can we get the kids to fall in love with this game. They think from a child's point of view and bring them into the world engulfing them in the game itself. I thought Sofia The First Magical Tea Party was amazing (and it still totally is) but they completely blew me away with Shipwreck Beach... Sure to be a hit in any household this is a MUST HAVE for any Jake fan.

    Many thanks to all the folks over at Wonder Forge for sending this over for us to take a look at!





Wonder Forge Presents Sofia The First Magical Tea Time



      Wonder Forge is coming out with some top notch games that are sure to be a hit this holiday season for your little ones. You know my take on tabletop games- there is no better way to spend quality time with your family.  Well the newly released  Sofia The First (awesome show) Magical Tea Time game  will have your little princess (and princes- yeah boys like tea parties too you know!) brimming with excitement.
    This is a great game for preschoolers and can have up to four players! It comes with four "place settings" four teacups, one teapot and 36 treat cards, that looked like all sorts of yummy baked goods. There are also three color coded Fairy Headmistress plates.  Each player starts out picking a treat off the board and flipping it over. There are four different outcomes from flipping the treat: One is getting one of the  three colors (red, blue, and green) which you would place on the coordinating headmistress's plate. Or, a teacup symbol, which will have you blowing on your teacup and spinning the attached die to land on one of the three colors. If there are
treats on the coordinating color Fairy Headmistress plates you can claim them as your own. There are also manners cards, which may have you curtsy, keep your elbows off the table and say please and thank you, as well as a teapot image. This is the best card in my opinion because you use the air puffer tea pot. Starting with the player on the left and ending with you- you use the teapot to spin the teacup die on each player teacup, revealing a color and then giving that player a card from the coordinating Fairy Head Mistress's plate. When all the treats are taken, the player with the most treats win!

    This is a GREAT game for so many reasons. The game play is simple so it's a great way to get the younger kids into board game play. Sofia The First is just a great show with so many great values instilled in the show itself and Wonder Forge stayed true to those values. Making it semi competitive, after all it is still a game but the actual game play itself promotes sharing (pouring tea for others in order for other players to gain treats while still making it fun) as well as promoting manners.  Whats even better, is it's a tea party, I LOVE tea parties, who doesn't. I still have them I mean I am now thirty so my tea parties are well real tea parties, but you get my meaning. The cards are sturdy, colorful, and well produced ensuring many many many hours of game play in the future. And the art work on it brings a little bit of the Disney magic into your home, from the designs on the treat cards to the place mats it is all simply magical.  So if you have a little princess in your life don't think twice, this is a great game that will have your whole family (yes even the boys) enjoying family game night. The only negative thing I have to say about this game is that it may monopolize family game time for many weeks to come! Thank you Wonder Forge for letting us try out this great game!




Video Game Music For Kids-By The London Philharmonic Orhcestra Our Review!





     Need a last minute gift, or just an all around awesome gift?  So do I have just the thing for you.  Video Game Music For Kids-By The London Philharmonic Orhcestra.
   This is a fifteen track album filled with amazing classical renditions of video game classics. From Sonic the Hedgehog to Portal, you will find a great array of songs that provides for a unique gift. Of course my favorite is the Super Mario Bros: Theme, bringing the various tones of my childhood into a really relaxing rendition through artfully done classical music.

   What is even better, although aimed for kids, this is an album everyone (at least everyone who is a gamer) in the family will enjoy.  My son enjoyed the Angry Bird Theme Song,  my husband is torn between The Legend of Zelda Suite and Tetris. Along with the Super Mario Theme, I do love the Tetris Theme- although it does bring me back to the days of utter and complete panic.. Where is the Slim RECTANGLE!! AHHHHH.

  So, forget about the regular last minute gifts (Starbucks gift cards) and get them the gift that will bring them relaxation that lasst longer than a 20 oz latte and cost about two dollars less!
                                             Available on Amazon




Half Popped! A Children's Book Review!





  Half Popped! Is a wonderful book written by Jeff Feuerstein and illustrated by Dayna brandoff, both Lynbrook Alumni might I add. The story is all about Kenny the Kernel who "was only half popped, after the microwave had stopped". In a bowl full of fully popped corn he felt he had no place, so he left the bowl for to find somewhere better. He meets a carrot who is sad because he is only a 'baby" and all the other carrots are calling him names, he encounters grapes that are sour and fighting, a blackened banana and a cheerio that can't swim. Kenny who is a kind kind of kernel helps all the other food feel better about themselves. But what about poor Kenny? Don't worry he finds out that he is perfect just the way he is.
    I have to say I love this book. It is truly unique not only in the story itself but the illustrations are a wonderful combination of both photography and illustrations.  The story is told in a lovely rhyme and it covers everything from nutritional foods, helping others, and being happy with who you are.  Kenny the half popped kernel doesn't let the fact that he is down stop him from helping others, and is a great lesson for our children. I constantly tell my son that when he says
nice things about people it can make their day, and this book just reinforces that teaching.  Of course the other thing I try and instill in him is that he is perfect just the way he is. His crazy dance moves, and the hair that is a lot like Harry Potter's- where it never looks brushed- make him the great little guy that he is. I tell him never change anything good about yourself because you don't fit in. You will find a crowd of people that will love and accept you just the way you are. In Kenny's case, he just wanted someone to eat him, and in the end he got chewed just like all the other popcorn. Kenny was accepted for who he was and that is just a great lesson to share with any child.
   What I also liked was how all the food was wholesome (except maybe the Oreo like cookies, but hey everyone needs a treat now and then...man I love Oreos.....NO DIET!!)  and all liked to be eaten. It kind of reminded me of the Muppet food that sing and dance, they never fought with the Chef when it was time for cooking. I tell my son all the time that food needs to be eaten (yeah he is three, its a pain to get him to eat anything that isn't chocolate) and that it will make them sad to be left on the plate. Well this book just backed up my story! Thanks guys! Also there is no meat so it is a great book for our number one veggie lover Christina! =)

   All in all this is a great truly unique book that will find a very happy place in your family's library.  It is available on Amazon for purchase and I think you should buy a copy for everyone you know!

*I received this book for review and I loved it, otherwise I would not write about it! Thanks again guys!





Giant Microbes: It's What Should Be Under Your Christmas Tree

     This past spring I did a review on the Giant Microbes line of plush germs and viruses. If you don't recall that awesome review, I won't hold it against you, but I will re-introduce you! 
      They are- ok well the name is also the description so I'll have to  take this  review in another direction. Ever want to show a child what let's say a blood cell looks like so you google it.  There pops a picture ok great. Well with Giant Microbes you can not only show them, you can have them hold a red blood cell plush that is only about a million times the size of the actual cell-bonus it's cute as heck too.  The plushes are soft and well crafted and look like the actual cell or virus in question with the added bonus of black eye buttons.  They are great for education- as visual tools for projects and learning or for pelting each other with the common cold when your kids aren't looking.



    But the Giant Microbes Family is not only limited to human virus, oh no, in this new technological world of ours there are viruses that even our electronics can get. That's right...COMPUTER VIRUSES!  There is a great new line of computer Virus plushes that are just great for the techie in your family! We were lucky enough to receive the elusive worm!  For a normal person like me who is not tech savvy with all the different kinds of nasty that can affect your computer, (I just say AHHHH it's broken fix it fix it!!!)  "A Worm is a malevolent program that can spontaneously generate numerous copies of itself to travel around the Internet and wreak havoc. Unlike a computer virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program."  Bringing this electronic beast into the 3d world, and may I even say it- making it kinda cute too! This is as well crafted and cuddly as the human body line and just as hilarious. Even the take that says (You've got WORMS) is funny and has a couple of fun facts about the worm himself.  I absolutely loved it, and I have someone in mind that will be getting a couple of these for Christmas! I just got very nervous...-C

      What I really love about these toys though is giving them to germaphobes. Again, very nervous...I gave the Christmas bundle for my sister in law a few years ago who has "antibacterial" as her middle name and I thought it was the-funniest-thing-ever. To her credit she laughed a lot as well (one of the few times that that happened lol). This year there are three different Christmas themed gift packs, A Christmas wreath, Christmas tree, and a Christmas Stocking-which is what we received! This gift set includes "Penicillin, Salmonella, Red Blood Cell, Dust Mite and limited edition Green Amoeba".  They are all dolled up in there Christmas best, and have embroidery! Festively adorned with decorative puffs, embroidered holly, snowflakes, reindeer nose and antlers, and cute scarf and ear muffs!  The red blood cell has snowflakes, holly adorns Samonella, but my favorite is the Dust Mite that is all dolled up as Rudolph!. If it was possible to make these little guys cuter, they just did it. I love them.



      Yes germs are gross- viruses stink- and a computer virus can bring a grown man to tears. But even though these are real life problems isn't it great to have a product that not only educates, but can make you laugh about it! So while shopping for a truly unique gift make sure you check out GIANTmicrobes. They have a variety of wonderful products that will make you laugh, and make YOU the ultimate gift giver this holiday season!




                        The Anna Banana Band

      The Anna Banana Band is my son's FAVORITE CD right now, that's right Fresh Beat Band moved to number two, and I have to give out a big HOORAY because I honestly LOVE this CD.   I first heard of this band while writing a preview for Circle Line Cruises, where they are performing on the kids cruise spring series.  When I went to link the band up a DINOSAUR song started playing and my son was instantly in love. I was amazed at his reaction which was a loud "WHAT IS THAT" the minute you heard Anna roar and we had to refresh her page over and over again until I finally had to say, "Ok that's enough for tonight".
  With punk rock overtones along with a nice mixture of rock, reggae, pop, and folk music this is the ultimate "Punky rock band for children" and I have to say the perfect children's album for adults as well. The music is wonderfully interactive and the changing music tones keep your kids interested and you from losing your mind. A lot of kids albums have one strained voice repeating the same harmonies and adding different words, not so with the Anna Banana Band.  Dinosong, the go-to tune that we listen to literally every single day, has my favorite line "I may even get a Barney tattoo" lol. My favorite, "Little Monster,  tells a story about a monster that is afraid of the child in the song,  and Five Punky Monkeys (I think I don't need to tell you that this is a take on Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed...ok I just did ) is also on our repeat play as well as the ROBOT DANCE! Dude, how could my son or anyone else's child not be in LOVE with this album.

     The album titled The Anna Banana Band is a thirteen song CD, that is available on the band's site or for download on i-tunes. It is well worth every cent- this chick Anna knows what she is doing.  A singer and songwriter that lives in Brooklyn, Anna has toured with the Music for Aardvarks in 2006 as bassist and female vocalist, and that is where she found her calling in kids music. I am happy that she did because this album rocks, and has helped us with long and short car rides, made cleaning up more fun, and has help me finally have a go-to kid friendly album that doesn't make me lose my mind after ten minutes!



               Tales To Play Learn To Share Game By Patch                                                     Products

     If there is anything that I love more than a good video game, it is a good board game. I love them, especially since my son is growing to an age where we can play together. While at the NYTF we don't know what that is!, That means I met this wonderful company at the New York Toy Fair!  I met with Patch Products, and they have a wide variety of games for children of all ages. I have three out of a huge line that I got to sample, and they were awesome.





     Learn To Share with the Berenstain Bears  is part of Patch's "Tales to Play" line. "Love the Book...Play The Game"  For players aged 4 and up and game play for 2 to 4 people, Learn to Share brings the tales of Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister Bear to life!. The detailed figures of Brother and Sister Bear, Lizzie and cousin Freddie are gorgeous as is the Bears' treehouse dice shaker!  The game board is decorated

beautifully, filled with a shape filled trail, and classic Berenstain Bear art. It is softly colored and not too overwhelming, keeping the younger ones interested in the game but not distracted. Targeting a natural issue in all children, Learn To Share is a game that brings the Berenstain bear book of the same title to life using examples of  good behaviors and bad behaviors in two sets of 16 cards (get in trouble cards, and do something nice cards). The object of the game is to get to Mama and Papa Bear first by rolling the die down the tree house, moving your bear across the board, and drawing one of the two kinds of cards.  The details that went into every part of the game is amazing, from the pieces that look like collectibles to the board, dice roller, and cards, are amazing. Even the packaging, which was made to look like a large book, with spaces in the plastic for easy clean up is great. This is a well made game that is innocent and filled with life lessons staying true to the Berenstain Bears name and franchise.

   Being big fans of the show here in this house, my son was more than thrilled with the game, as was I.  The instructions and concepts are easy for a child 3 plus to understand, and every single kid that has played it loved not only the game pieces and board, but the dice roller, come on! It goes down a SLIDE, who wouldn't want to play it? Bringing learning and game play together in a game that is truly faithful to the brand was a true pleasure and it is in heavy rotation in our Friday night game night. We bought the book as well so when he picks a card that has a line from the book he gets super excited because it really is like playing the story itself.   If your little one is a fan of Berenstain Bears I fully endorse purchasing this game.  I would also recommend any of the other games in the line which are The Little Engine That Could, Where The Wild Things Are, and Mother Goose.

                        

       If you haven't heard of UglyDoll(s), I want you to know you are now being introduced to one awesome plush.  Turning the world "Ugly" into something meaning unique and different and celebrating those differences with the cute and cuddly characters Wage, Babo, Ox and my favorite Ice-Bat.  These amazing dudes were created by David Horvbath and Sun-Min Kim, who decided that we should be celebrating Ugly, not hide from it!


  Although not your most conventional stuffed toy (kinda the point) they are none the less very cute, cuddly, and support a great viewpoint which I love. They come in a variety of sizes and varieties and all of them have back stories as a description which just cracks me up. The one I received from Gund was Ugly Charlie & Ket. They are working in the buddy system and come together in this new line. Here is the description "Ugly Charlie and Ket were made for each other. They also can’t stand one another. They also love each other. They also fight all day. They also play all night. Nothing can get between them. Nothing can bring them together. There’s no separating them. There’s no helping them. They call you coach. They call you referee. Call them brothers. Call the cops."


  I was cracking up. This particular plush as well as many others run for about $20.00 apiece and if you order them via the website there is free shipping in the US which is nice.  This is a great gift for any kiddo, or adult-I am not going to lie, I love these, and I would gladly cover my whole bedroom with them, in fact Ice Bat is on my wish list- I am just waiting for my husband to get it for me for that special occasion that warrants a stuffed toy (hint hint, that's any day dummy!)


  And since it is coming from Gund you know the product is going to be made with love and also well made. These are not cheap toys; they don't tear with wear or playful smacking one's sister in the head (that's me, not my son doing that- mainly because he doesn't have a sister) The company has been around for a long time-being founded by German immigrant Adolph Gund in 1898- I am sure everyone has heard and many may even own a Gund Teddy Bear-because they are the best and they have been around forever.


   Gund also has a bunch of awesome lines of plush toys including Sesame Street, coming out with a new Super Grover plush that is a must have for any Grover fan. Their lines also include Curious George and baby Gund which has the SOFTEST line of baby toys, blankets and more, so go check them out!


  So guys, now you know what to get me for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and the like, I want Ugly Dolls, and I want them now, and I know you will too and so will your kids so check them out!


*Also if you are on Vine follow @Uglydoll-they do some pretty cute six second clips that have me and my son cracking up!


                                      Post It Products! 
     Where would we be without Post-its? Up a creek without out a paddle that's where, and now I am super excited to be able to tell you about all the new products they have come out with a great line called Post-it Mobile that is geared to help you get through your day easier.  All these products are great for the career working person, or parents on the go!

   First up Post-it Moblie Attach and Go Pocket has inserts that fit great into three ring binders and planners, they also stick securely and, just as important, removes easily! Great to stick onto laptops, notebooks, planners, and more. They are transparent-letting you see what you have in there, and have fastener snap secure Dual Lock. They are available in a variety of sizes, but my personal favorite is the one for business cards.  These run for $4.99.




     The post-it Mobile Attach and Go Insert is a great combo of all your favorite products  that fits into most ring binders and planners and filled with a combo of Post-it full adhesive notes, tabs, and low profile inserts, this is great for all students of any age and adults alike and is priced for $5.99.


      This one is my favorite! The Post-it Mobile attach and Go Car Visor Pop-up Note Dispenser! With a sturdy dispenser that clips to the car visor for instant accessibility, keeping available a Post-it when in need, clean and close at hand- how many times have you been in the car and needed to write something down quick (not while driving please) and couldn't find a piece of paper? Now for only $6.99 it is all at your disposal!  Now all you have to do is go to TB Bank and grab a bunch of pens and you're all set!(j/k...)



     Post-it has also improved on what as my sister Brittany would call a perfect product  by adding full adhesive backing that holds longer and stronger BUT removes cleanly. Available in all our favorite colors and great for any product for anyone!
                 






                                   


       So you guys understand that I am in love with chef Fabio Viviani. His dreamy accent his playfulness oh and the fact that he cooks!!! Excuse me, what's not to love? His  newest cook book Fabio's Italian Kitchen- which came out in May-  takes us on a culinary journey through his life. Growing up, his family didn't have very much money and when his mother got sick, well, things got worse, and at age 11 he worked at night

using a "borrowed" motorbike to help support his family. This is the kind of man that you want your son to grow up to be. As you can see that along with his amazing recipes, he gives us a glimpse into his life. Showing us where his worth ethic, love of food, and bliss in life come from!.  The pages are filled with amazing recipes that Fabio grew up with. He explains not only how they are made but in some cases the stories behind them.
     From simple recipes (like Fabio's version of fried chicken- with a twist adding sage and rosemary-he had me worried with that one, but OMGOOSH it was amazing, I am not kidding)  to sharing his uncle's home made pizza that I made tonight with my son! (spoiler -that one was delicious as well!)  This cookbook is a truly unique blend of life, love, and food that I have never experienced before. It is like the love behind the recipes pressed itself onto the pages and are brought into your home.  It touches you like any good book should- but rarely how a cookbook does- right in the heart.
  So yes I have a tiny (huge) crush on this cutie Italian chef and hey you may too but don't buy this book because of that. Buy it because there is love stamped along with every letter, every picture, and every recipe in this book.  Buy it because when you thumb through it you are getting a glimpse into an amazing story of not only one man, but his whole family, and buy it because he is giving us a gift by sharing his and his family's life and love with us and letting us bring it into our home.

   Oh and did I mention that he also tells you how he set his Grandma on fire (she was fine) and slapped the hand of the Pope? No? Well you will have to read all about it in his book!


  To learn more about Chef Fabio Viviani please visit his website (he posts a lot of great information including recipes and kid friendly healthy meals!)


 To hear what he had to say to us when we interviewed him this past December click here





                      Sproutkin: The New Way to Experience Books!


     So let me just begin with this. I LOVE SPROUTKIN!  Now, saying that let me actually tell you what Sproutkin actually is.  This is a monthly subscription box that brings the library to your front door. With a no contract subscription in which you will receive ten books, which will be returned when you are through reading them,  with a common theme. The theme of this months was “I like To Be Me” and included such titles as Splat the Cat Sings Flat,  I Wish I had Duck Feet  and my favorite A Bad  Case Of The Stripes.  We took a full week reading one book, over and over again (as kids like to do) and I can honestly say that the people behind “Sproutkin” did a amazing job of gathering a huge array of books that were common of theme but different in  both the way the moral was told and also the illustrations. I mean could we expect less from a staff of child educators?  We had a range of bright and vibrant to calm and beautiful with stories that had  animals as the main character to a color changing girl! So much research goes into putting together just the right books for each box and I love the fact that my son was experiencing a wide range of books with NO WORK for me!

     Reading is an important activity in our house. We read every day, multiple times a day and it is so hard to find a good read because of the overload of children's books out there. With Sproutkin they take the search out of your research, giving you the top of the line books to your door every month without fail and leaving you with just the “re”. You can do whatever you want with that.

     Along with being beautifully wrapped the box comes complete with a  Sproutcard to help your child associate in real life the included the stories themes. My Sproutcard included a list of questions to ask about eight of the ten books included. There was also a list of activities including one that I particularly liked “make a list of your child’s talents. Cut out pictures and words that represent these talents from magazines and make a collage. Highlight your child’s traits that are not obvious and even some traits that your child might consider flaws!”  This was a great way to really get your child to understand what the books were trying to tell them. It’s OK TO BE DIFFERENT! I thought it was yet again a wonderful touch!
   So what do you do after you have gone through your Sproutkin Box completely? Well you can keep the books you want with a ten percent discount then use the same box and the prepaid postage label included and away it goes!

    To sum it up, this is something special. A subscription that gives your family the gift of books and the time to spend together enjoying them is something precious indeed.  Reading is fundamental as they say, but in so many ways. There is nothing I love more than cuddling on the couch with my little one with a pile of books and reading them together. Whether it be old favorites that he has memorized, or the new adventures that you will go on together on with the help of Sproutkin -this is an important way to spend time as a family. I love the fact that we have Sproutkin to look forward to month after month ensuring that my kids will be excited to read and spend a bit of time with the family! However please don't take my word for it sign yourself up and enjoy the benefits of Sproutkin with your little one today.

    To Learn more about this wonderful program please go to their website, as well as reading our wonderful Q/A with one of the creators of Sproutkin Raelyn Bleharski

MG: How did the concept of  Sproutkin come from?

 RB: My daughter (now 5) and I would spend hours at the library every week searching for books to read during our daily bedtime routine. We would bring home a stack of about 30 books but we'd get through them pretty quickly. I couldn't sustain this routine of searching through the library shelves every week, especially when I had a second child and started work, and I was hesitant to order books from Amazon since we'd breeze through several books in one night. Our local bookstore also closed down! After talking with other moms and realizing they felt the same frustrations, I felt that a book subscription like Sproutkin was exactly what we all needed to stimulate and excite our children through books. 

In February and by popular demand, we launched a program for infants and toddlers up to 3 years as well. This option is different, as you are allowed to keep the boxes and it includes 2-3 board books, plus an educational toy. 

MG: How do you choose which books you put in the boxes

RB: We include both classic books (there's a reason why children have loved these classics for decades and these books shouldn't be overlooked today) - and fresher, newer titles.  The books are chosen by me in conjunction with our educational advisory board. Our goal is simple: to instill in children the love to read. We do this by providing the highest quality books to engage your children, and to expose them to new ideas and experiences. Children will learn to love reading if the right books are read to them. We hear from many subscribers that they were surprised to learn that their children loved a certain book, which helped trigger new interests. This is exactly what we love to hear! 

MG: You like to portray a certain theme in each box set, why is this important to the program?

RB: In our experience, this helps both parents and children get the most out of the books. We feel that the reading experience should not end with the last page of the book. Instead, we encourage parents to continue with discussion and activities that draw on the characters and lessons in the stories. Grouping books together by themes makes it easier for parents to accomplish this. 

MG: What makes this stand out from all the other mail order boxes that are available these days?

RB: Our preschool boxes are carefully curated with the best books. 90% of the work is searching for and finding the right books that will excite your children, and we've done that work for you. Parents who visit the library regularly are the first ones to tell us that Sproutkin is exactly what they need, because they are well aware of the time necessary to find the best books in the library. Also, our boxes are themed which makes each shipment an exciting surprise. Some examples of themes include: Bon Appetit (books about food), Earth and Beyond, Problem Solving, and Rules, just to name a few. Each box also comes with a "Sproutcard," which is like an informal guide for parents. The Sproutcard includes questions and activities about the stories, characters and general theme of the box. 

MG: Please add anything you would like the readers know here!

RB: Here are some common themes that have come from parents who use our preschool product: 

My son/daughter was sad to return the Sproutkit, so we had to explain a new one was coming soon!

I can’t believe my son/daughter loved [insert book]. I never would have selected that book, so I am thankful you sent it to us!   

Sproutkit became a calming bedtime routine. My son/daughter is excited to pick out a new book from his/her Sproutkit every night and it makes bedtime reading that much more enjoyable.
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                                          Little Pim DVD Review



 I am super into having my child learn a second language. I have not only heard but seen the benefits of teaching a child a second language at an early age and I think it is just the bee's knees.  I myself took Spanish for I don't know eight years and can understand a lot, however can speak very little.  So when I saw the Little Pim language educational series I was so excited!  Along with taking my son to super affordable Spanish classes ($25.00 at a local library I mean really? How can you beat that?), I have been using the Little Pim DVDs to help my son get ahead of the game.


   With the friendly panda bear guiding the way through themed DVDs such as eating, playtime, and feelings your child will be saying muy caliente pronto! No really, after watching the DVD once my son immediately grasped on to two words:  caliente and la pasta. With multiple watches as well as repeating the words throughout the day we are well on our way to knowing thirty plus words, and I couldn't be happier. To make things even better, I am not forcing this on my son he actually asks to watch the DVDs as well which is amazing.  With the combination of animation and live action portrayed in the videos and the five minute segments, it is something that he really enjoys and does not get bored of.



     There is a WIDE  variety of  languages available including French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, English, and Portuguese.  Also available are games, printouts, and a parent's guide book on the site to help you along the way.  Along with DVDs there are apps, flash cards, and CDs to help your child expand his language skills, all geared for your kid's learning and for fun!  Little Pim is one of the best language programs I have seen for children so far. The age range is 0-5 and is a wonderful way to entertain and educate your child in a way that really works.  I am so very happy with the results it has produced with my little one and couldn't ask for more in a  educational DVD.  So if you want to give your child the chance to learn a second language early in life then I suggest that you use Little Pim as one of the learning tools to do it.  Good luck and for those of you that do try it please tell me how your kids do!


*Note from Christina: My son used Little Pim in Italian and he enjoyed it as well.  He is 5 so he has grown out of the DVDs but still likes the flash cards, which are really useful!






                   Rock Your Inner MaMa Review


I don't know if any of you have tried mediation, but I have been doing it for years and it is something that can truly make a difference in how you approach your day.  Whether you are a working parent, or stay at home, there are going to be times when the kid is going to get under your skin, tear at your nerves, and make you pull out your hair-I have something here that may not stop that from happening, but just might help you get through it. Rachel Sklar is the creator or Rock Your Inner Mama, a downloadable (or not) CD of guided meditations that can help you more than you even know. Ms. Sklar who is certified in many areas, including as a Certified Parent Coach has created a truly unique 9 track CD that will help guide you to getting a bit  of peace during your day.

     With her "Rock Your Inner Mama Mantras" you will  find a sense of peace with yourself,  letting go of what you SHOULD be doing this will instead help you change your outlook on your life.  For example "I am grateful for everything that I have": simple yes, but sometimes we need to be reminded, and being reminded in a meditative state can change your outlook on your entire day!  The "At Wit's End" track is my favorite, especially with a two year old. This will guide you into a state of relaxation that you may not think possible, giving you a moment that is just yours- stating that "giving yourself to your own needs is a gift for those around you." How true is that!   Sometimes as parents we believe that we have to be on the move all the
time or everything will collapse, making ourselves go until the point that we have our very own tantrum. Yep I said it tantrum. You know when you say you've had it with everyone- stamp your foot, slam the dishwasher, and stomp off thinking "why doesn't anyone else get it"? Guess what, that is exactly what our two year olds do, except they have an excuse-they are TWO. So we have to be responsible for not only taking care of everyone around us, but ourselves as well and this thirteen minute meditation is a perfect way to energize yourself, and to stop that tantrum before it begins. I mean as long as there is someone there to watch the children (or they are asleep) what is spending thirteen minutes to yourself in the grand scheme of things? Nothing and everything. Nothing because everyone will survive without you for those mere moments, and everything because you will come back after like a new person.

   Guided Meditation is also a great way for beginners to learn the art. Rachel's voice is soft and soothing.  She uses everyday phrases-no big words that will knock you out of your zen thinking..umm what? Her words are descriptive enough to help guide you along the same path, but is not overwhelming where you feel like you are listening to a talk radio show.  She says all the right things for several situations that leave you calm cool and collected.  When you get up from your meditation segment you will feel refreshed and ready to take on the world, which is exactly how you should feel. It's your world baby, you have to do your best to make the most of it!


   But don't take my word for it, download this amazing CD or try it risk free by listening to a demo and decide whether you are ready to make a $20.00 investment into your sanity.  We all know the ways that we can spend twenty bucks, but none of them, other than providing nourishment for you and your family is more important than giving yourself something that will make you better. I'm telling you it will be well worth it.

To listen to a demo, learn more about the creator, or to buy the CD please visit www.RockYourInnerMama.com

Now a word from the woman behind the meditation Rachel Sklar


MG- What made you create Rock Your Inner Mama?


RS-(BTW, Dad's rock too.)  I often use guided visualizations with my clients during phone sessions.   I got a lot of really positive feedback and thought it would be a nice idea to record them for my clients.  One thing led to another and I eventually recorded it into a CD for everyone to enjoy.   The meditations are based on my 10 Rock Your Inner Mama mantras (available on my website), which are the principles upon which I parent and coach.


MG- When is your favorite time in the day to meditate?

RS- I designed the CD so that each track fits a different point in the day.  For me, my favorites are to meditate in the heat of a moment (at my wit's end) as a way of cooling myself down.  And I like to listen to guided meditations of all sorts at night when I'm falling asleep (such as the self care meditation at the end of the CD).

MG- Why do you think this is an important tool for any parent to have?

RS- The CD is unique in that it doesn't prescribe a certain set of "ways to parent" as if there was a "right" way to do it.  Instead, it prompts parents to consider their unique strengths and unique situation.  That way, parents are empowered to reflect on their specific children and parenting style as a pathway to freedom, peace and ease.

MG-What is your favorite track?

RS- Like I said, I like the "Wit's End" track and  the "Me Time" track, but I think my favorite is actually "Sleeping Child." It's so sweet and tender to watch my children sleep.  There's nothing better.


                             RS Final Thoughts

I think it would be interesting for readers to know that Parent Coaching is an up and coming movement that takes the overwhelming amount of information out there and customizes it to fit the unique strengths and challenges of the family.   Whereas parenting classes and books are prescriptive in nature, parent coaching is a tool for the parent and coach to co-create a plan that will be sustainable.   This CD is one way of introducing this reflective approach to parenting.  I like to think of it as "parenting from the inside out" because it challenges us to look within for answers, instead of relying on the outside rhetoric about how to parent "right."


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www.RockYourInnerMama.com (which is the CD page)



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      Little Pnuts is a  box subscription, that you get four times a year and is filled with fun handcrafted items.  These earth friendly toys are aimed to get your kids off the couch, off the ipod, and away from the TV,  giving them  the best thing to play with, their imagination! Your child will anxiously await a box filled with surprises.  All aimed toward your child's age whether it be 0-3 months or pre-school there is a box for your little pnut!




  I was lucky enough to review this amazing program and I am so happy that I did.  The box came to the door and when I told my son that it was all his, his eyes lit up! He tore open the box (with a little help from me) and kept on going WOW MOM THANKS! as he went through the items in the box.  We got three items: one was a Haba game that is just simply gorgeous. Made up of 9 wood pieces all in the shape of three different animals legs torsos and head. You roll the die and the color that shows up is the color that you pick! The person that has the most blocks at the end of the game is the winner!  I am in love with this game. It is short enough to keep my little ones attention, easy enough that he doesn't get frustrated, but also incorporates color association as well as using his hand eye coordination to build the blocks.  It is a quality made toy that I honestly would never have come across without the help of Little Pnuts.  It was really kinda funny that we had received that particular product in the mail because I was just talking to my husband about the fact that there are no games that are age appropriate for my son. Then like magic one appears at my door. Just like magic, or Little Pnuts!


      The second item was just as good as the first. A magnetic animal matching set from Djeco.  They are beautifully designed with the legs, torso, and head all separate which leads to fun matching games as well as mismatching games. My son has this adorable Melissa and Doug magnetic chalk board in his room and he is constantly playing with these magnetics with or without me. Hi is using his logic skills to match each piece with the correct body part as well as using his imagination to mis-match and have fun! Love love love love it!


      The third item was the most adorable kaleidoscope shaped as a mushroom. The kiddo has not stopped using it since we got it, and to be honest neither have I. I had completely forgotten how much fun they are. Seeing the world in a multitude of different lights! So much fun.


    Little Pnut turned a great idea into an even better company. Being both earth friendly and socially responsible, you can be assured that your child will be receiving the top of the line in toys that will not only be fun, but help them better themselves.  That is something that we all know is not a priority in every company out there.

   The cost for the box is $25.00,  and deliveries are sent every 3 months at the beginning of each Season; March, June, September and December. You can order just one box, or a  yearly subscription, which is a nice option.  I like the fact that they don't lock you into a commitment and it is also perfect to buy someone as a gift. How much do you spend at the store for a birthday or holiday gift  for one or two toys?  For the same amount of money you can buy two or three months worth of Little Pnuts boxes that has multiple items that will enhance the child's play as well as giving them the thrill of receiving something in the mail (all too soon the mail will not be something that is so exciting so why not let them enjoy it while they can!).  To sum up, if you are looking for a great series of toys for your little one or for a great gift, this is for you. I can not wait to surprise my son with his next Little Pnuts box! Thanks guys it was great!




     


                    Madame Alexandra Company
     That's right, this family known brand has just turned ninety and we got to celebrate with them at their new home on 34th Street.  The company takes up two two floors of the building.  There is a beautiful show room, with rooms filled with their latest projects (don't worry we will get there) and then the other floor where the magic happens: designs, fabrics, models, and prototypes. Its quite an impressive layout and you can feel that it is a very special one as well.  For over ninety years, Madame Alexander has come out with new and inspiring dolls for little girls everywhere, and they don't plan to stop now. In fact they are creating bigger and better things for both collectors and kiddos.




   There is a whole new series of Gone With the Wind Dolls that took my breath away, being a HUGE fan of the movie and all things related to the movie. I envision them in my home in the not too distant future. Also as a brand new version of their first every licensed character doll Alice in Wonderland, as well as  a boy dressed as the Cheshire Cat.  They also created a FABULOUS line of Oz the Great and Powerful and so much more!



Somethingng brand new to the company is their line of washable toys, making their dolls readily available to the younger ones in our lives. There is a full line of The Wizard of Oz; these dolls are 12 inches tall and include all the familiar characters- my favorite and also on my must have list is the Flying Monkey. The ever popular Angelina Ballerina dolls also made an appearance in this new line and are 18 inch's tall.  Both series are plush dolls that are cuddly enough to snuggle up with while being sturdy enough to go on adventures.  The features are embroidered on, making a beautiful doll that is also machine washable and dryer friendly. YES!

  There is also a new line of dolls called Dollie and Me! These are 18 inches tall, and made  to be your  child's new best friend! For ages three and up, this is bringing Madame Alexander into a whole new direction! These fashion fun dolls are a full line of imaginative lifestyle toys. The best part is the outfits are available for both dolls and their owners, bringing the beautiful fashions from the dolls to your child's own wardrobe and giving your child the ultimate experience. How many times have we as little girls wished we could put on the clothes our dolls came with? Well with Dollie and Me we can live vicariously through our children.   With a strong designing team behind the scenes using the motto "if it doesn't make us smile it's not making it in the store" ensuring that the clothing line is both fashion forward and whimsical enough to let the imagination flow these creative geniuses are coming up with new fashions every month!   The clothes in the show room for both the doll and the child are made with wonderful soft fabrics, using vibrant colors and patterns to keep the doll and the girl in style while out to play.  I encourage you to join Madame Alexander in a whole new frontier of doll play, bringing with it a more interactive play that we haven't seen from the company and I have high hopes for the line.


  All in all Madame Alexander left me wanting everything on the shelves, which is nothing less than I expected out of a company that has been pushing the envelope for 90 years, and I am certain will be pushing it for another 90 years!



            

           Mindware: Brainy Toys for Kids of All Ages!

     I've said it before, and I'll say it again (old age and all, its inevitable that I will be repeating myself) I love toys that are fun and educational. For others like myself I have a great company for you- its called Mindware. They have toys that will have your child's mind stretching to find the answer while laughing the whole time! Their site is filled with award winning games and educational toys both made by the Mindware company and also by others collected to give you the best collection of intellectual game play available anywhere on the net. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a set of Imaginets-a Mindware product- to try out and I am in love. Imagination +Magnets= Imaginets! The winner of the Major Fun Award, Parent's Choice Gold Award and Parenting for High Potential Recommended Award. Imaginets helps your child boost their fine motor and visual thinking skills while engaging them in a puzzle experience. Besides that its beautifully crafted with a wood carrying case that has rope handles for easy carrying. The blocks are magnetic and stick onto the dry-erase board that is lined inside the case. This lets your kids not only make pictures with the blocks, but also to decorate and make scenery! (dry erase markers are not included but can be bought basically anywhere) The set also comes complete with 50 full colored designs that your child can recreate, from a simplistic bug to a more complicated dinosaur, you and your child will have fun filtering out all the pieces and then putting the puzzle together on the board.




     My son is two and a half and he LOVES puzzles, I mean really loves puzzles- my closet is filled with puzzle boards and their pieces are in corresponding Ziplock bags. That's the problem with puzzles though isn't it? There are so many pieces, the toddler ones all have separate boards that the puzzles fit in and soon your closet is filled to the brim like mine. One of the MANY reasons why I was so interested in Imaginets is the tightly sealed case that holds all the pieces to fifty puzzles. FIFTY! My closet is giving a sigh of relief right now. Now my son is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to age range for this toy which is 3-8 years old. He is very good at puzzles though, like I said before its kind of his thing, so when we played I pre-sorted all the pieces. I then put them on the top side of the board along with the picture of the puzzle we are working on. I asked my son to pick one piece that we need for the puzzle then it was on like a puzzle inspired game of Donkey Kong except without the kidnapped princess, or the gorilla... Actually it was nothing like an puzzle inspired game of Donkey Kong, but it was just as awesome. I would ask him to find the yellow square, the purple triangle etc. etc. and using the picture as a guide we would get that puzzle together and gaze upon it with triumph in our eyes, until we had fun destroying it and made another one. We sat in relative peace and quite for an hour each time we played with Imaginets. My son laughed and learned all at once doing one of his favorite activities in a different and more challenging way. What's even better is  this is a “toy” that can grow with him. There are add-on's available to buy that will give you more pieces and more puzzles to recreate and for your child to imagine up for years to come. This has The Mommy's Guide Seal of Approval. (unfortunately the seal, his name is Sal, couldn't be here today......joke's not working is it?) what? crickets...  Thanks Mindware, keep up the good work!



For more information on Mindware, please visit their site!  And check back! We will be giving away one set of Imaginets in a couple of days! WHOO HOOO


                              
                     Sproutkin: The New Way to Experience Books!


     So let me just begin with this. I LOVE SPROUTKIN!  Now, saying that let me actually tell you what Sproutkin actually is.  This is a monthly subscription box that brings the library to your front door. With a no contract subscription in which you will receive ten books, which will be returned when you are through reading them,  with a common theme. The theme of this months was “I like To Be Me” and included such titles as Splat the Cat Sings Flat,  I Wish I had Duck Feet  and my favorite A Bad  Case Of The Stripes.  We took a full week reading one book, over and over again (as kids like to do) and I can honestly say that the people behind “Sproutkin” did a amazing job of gathering a huge array of books that were common of theme but different in  both the way the moral was told and also the illustrations. I mean could we expect less from a staff of child educators?  We had a range of bright and vibrant to calm and beautiful with stories that had  animals as the main character to a color changing girl! So much research goes into putting together just the right books for each box and I love the fact that my son was experiencing a wide range of books with NO WORK for me!

     Reading is an important activity in our house. We read every day, multiple times a day and it is so hard to find a good read because of the overload of children's books out there. With Sproutkin they take the search out of your research, giving you the top of the line books to your door every month without fail and leaving you with just the “re”. You can do whatever you want with that.

     Along with being beautifully wrapped the box comes complete with a  Sproutcard to help your child associate in real life the included the stories themes. My Sproutcard included a list of questions to ask about eight of the ten books included. There was also a list of activities including one that I particularly liked “make a list of your child’s talents. Cut out pictures and words that represent these talents from magazines and make a collage. Highlight your child’s traits that are not obvious and even some traits that your child might consider flaws!”  This was a great way to really get your child to understand what the books were trying to tell them. It’s OK TO BE DIFFERENT! I thought it was yet again a wonderful touch!
   So what do you do after you have gone through your Sproutkin Box completely? Well you can keep the books you want with a ten percent discount then use the same box and the prepaid postage label included and away it goes!

    To sum it up, this is something special. A subscription that gives your family the gift of books and the time to spend together enjoying them is something precious indeed.  Reading is fundamental as they say, but in so many ways. There is nothing I love more than cuddling on the couch with my little one with a pile of books and reading them together. Whether it be old favorites that he has memorized, or the new adventures that you will go on together on with the help of Sproutkin -this is an important way to spend time as a family. I love the fact that we have Sproutkin to look forward to month after month ensuring that my kids will be excited to read and spend a bit of time with the family! However please don't take my word for it sign yourself up and enjoy the benefits of Sproutkin with your little one today.

    To Learn more about this wonderful program please go to their website, as well as reading our wonderful Q/A with one of the creators of Sproutkin Raelyn Bleharski

MG: How did the concept of  Sproutkin come from?

 RB: My daughter (now 5) and I would spend hours at the library every week searching for books to read during our daily bedtime routine. We would bring home a stack of about 30 books but we'd get through them pretty quickly. I couldn't sustain this routine of searching through the library shelves every week, especially when I had a second child and started work, and I was hesitant to order books from Amazon since we'd breeze through several books in one night. Our local bookstore also closed down! After talking with other moms and realizing they felt the same frustrations, I felt that a book subscription like Sproutkin was exactly what we all needed to stimulate and excite our children through books. 

In February and by popular demand, we launched a program for infants and toddlers up to 3 years as well. This option is different, as you are allowed to keep the boxes and it includes 2-3 board books, plus an educational toy. 

MG: How do you choose which books you put in the boxes

RB: We include both classic books (there's a reason why children have loved these classics for decades and these books shouldn't be overlooked today) - and fresher, newer titles.  The books are chosen by me in conjunction with our educational advisory board. Our goal is simple: to instill in children the love to read. We do this by providing the highest quality books to engage your children, and to expose them to new ideas and experiences. Children will learn to love reading if the right books are read to them. We hear from many subscribers that they were surprised to learn that their children loved a certain book, which helped trigger new interests. This is exactly what we love to hear! 

MG: You like to portray a certain theme in each box set, why is this important to the program?

RB: In our experience, this helps both parents and children get the most out of the books. We feel that the reading experience should not end with the last page of the book. Instead, we encourage parents to continue with discussion and activities that draw on the characters and lessons in the stories. Grouping books together by themes makes it easier for parents to accomplish this. 

MG: What makes this stand out from all the other mail order boxes that are available these days?

RB: Our preschool boxes are carefully curated with the best books. 90% of the work is searching for and finding the right books that will excite your children, and we've done that work for you. Parents who visit the library regularly are the first ones to tell us that Sproutkin is exactly what they need, because they are well aware of the time necessary to find the best books in the library. Also, our boxes are themed which makes each shipment an exciting surprise. Some examples of themes include: Bon Appetit (books about food), Earth and Beyond, Problem Solving, and Rules, just to name a few. Each box also comes with a "Sproutcard," which is like an informal guide for parents. The Sproutcard includes questions and activities about the stories, characters and general theme of the box. 

MG: Please add anything you would like the readers know here!

RB: Here are some common themes that have come from parents who use our preschool product: 

My son/daughter was sad to return the Sproutkit, so we had to explain a new one was coming soon!

I can’t believe my son/daughter loved [insert book]. I never would have selected that book, so I am thankful you sent it to us!   

Sproutkit became a calming bedtime routine. My son/daughter is excited to pick out a new book from his/her Sproutkit every night and it makes bedtime reading that much more enjoyable.
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