Two Gift Ideas For Creative Kids

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

With the holidays here my mind has been on Christmas shopping. Each of my kids has a list of things that they hope to get. From video games to building sets to puzzles, everything they see in the commercials seems to end up on their lists. Most of their wish lists are similar but Lucas has a lot more variety on his. Lucas loves everything from cars to dolls and I love this about him because he is his own person and likes what he likes, no matter what other kids might say.

Some of his favorite activities are arts and crafts which he developed a love for at summer camp. He loves colors and has a keen spirit for all things creative and playful. In order to make Lucas happy and encourage his artful side I introduced some new crafty kits to him this week. The two kits are TEXT COOL Bracelet Studio and the The KNIT’S COOL Knitting Studio.

Lucas loves to dress himself in unique outfits and now he can send the ultimate fashion statement message with a bracelet. He loves being in control and designing his own things and this kit makes it as easy as 1-2-3 to create. Just turn, reveal, and press! He can even make message bracelets to share with his friends by using TEXT COOL. Text Cool includes an easy to use Bracelet Studio, featuring over 60 letters and emoticons and 35 bracelets to wear and share. Text Cool lets Luke get his creative messages on his wrists for the world to see! He is overjoyed to create and show his creativity with Text Cool.

The other kit Lucas liked is KNIT’S COOL. The Knit’s Cool Knitting Studio is an amazing new tool that makes learning to knit super easy. With the Knit’s CoolStudio, any kid can easily design their favorite fashions – like scarves, headbands, bags and more. The knitting studio kit has everything you need to start knitting right away, including fashion yarn, patterns and accessories to make three complete Knit’s Cool™ projects. Lucas is excited to see his Auntie over the weekend and make a phone case with her. Anyone can learn to craft fun and fashionable accessories with Knit’s Cool by watching the easy How-To videos online!

Do you have a child who loves art and crafts? These would make a great gift for the holidays!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Last-Minute Gift Idea: Sponsor A Homeless Pet

Did you check your list twice and realize you’re not done shopping? Don’t dash out to brave the crowds just yet: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has the perfect holiday gift. Sponsor a homeless pet!

When you make a sponsorship gift, your loved ones receive an e-card with a photo and story about the animal you chose for them. Homeless pets at Best Friends and around the nation get your love and support. Sponsoring a pet is one way you can help Save Them All®.

Check out all of the animals you can sponsor to make a difference in the lives of homeless pets. Some of these animals have a special place in my heart, especially Bob the cat who I got to walk on a recent trip to the Sanctuary!

This would make such a great gift for the animal lover in your life!

Crayola Gift Ideas For Your Little Artist

Lucas loves anything to do with crafting, coloring or art so it’s a given that we have a huge variety of Crayola products at our home. From coloring supplies to tools to the easel in our living room, Crayola is the brand we trust to bring us quality and fun. The boys were really happy to receive a box of goodies from the brand and especially excited to try out one of their new products, the Crayola Widescreen Light Designer.

This Crayola Light Designer lets your budding artist bring his or her creations to life. They can choose from seven different light-effect combinations that create the animations. The boys loved seeing their designs light up!

There is a built-in easel so they can draw while the screen is lying flat or standing up and easily display their designs. I love that this product has such a large screen which allows both of my kids to create a masterpiece together. I enjoyed watching the boys explore how different colors mixed together, too.

I see this product being used for years to come. It works for them now but as they get older, and their drawing skills improve, I think they will really explore how to make their pictures animated with the lights. After finishing one drawing, the screen can be simply wiped clean and used again. I found a damp cloth works best on it since paper towels seemed to be too rough on the delicate screen. No need to worry about losing the markers because they store in the back of this Crayola toy, so they are always within reach.

Still looking for more gift ideas? Check out Crayola’s site!

Holiday Bouquets From Teleflora And The Cake Boss

(Disclosure: I received a bouquet from Teleflora but all thoughts are my own.)

Teleflora, the world’s leading flower delivery service, teamed up with the “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro to create a brand new line up of holiday bouquets perfect for decorating, gifting and entertaining. Buddy’s floral collection features three new bouquets that capture the authenticity and spirit of his festive family holiday traditions.

The trio includes a holly motif-serving bowl, a gingerbread-house cookie jar and a merry mug. Each bouquet arrives professionally-arranged and hand-delivered by a local florist in your community with an exclusive holiday recipe personally created by Buddy. What a great gift for the person who has it all!

We received the Teleflora Holly Days Centerpiece. The holiday collectible table top serving bowl is adorned with a holly motif and is bursting with red and white holiday blooms and fragrant assorted greens. It’s the perfect addition to our holiday decor and I love how it brightens up our whole kitchen while making it smell wonderful.

I wish Christmastime would never end but sadly it does. It’s nice to know that your gift will be enjoyed for years to come because the containers these special bouquets come in are FDA approved to safely serve and store food and are oven, microwave and dishwasher safe. What a great addition to kitchens everywhere.

Which bouquet is your favorite?

 

 

Surprise Your Family With The Ultimate Gift

Sometimes blogging offers such amazing opportunities for my family and I was lucky to be able to treat my boys to the best gift ever this summer- a fabulous Springfree trampoline courtesy of the company. Their faces when they saw it were priceless. They were so excited and I loved being able to give them such a special surprise.

If you are still looking for a gift for your family, Springfree trampolines will create hours of fun for years to come. Imagine family gatherings, those long summer days and more, all spent outside together. You’ll also have the confidence in knowing that you’ve chosen a safe gift for your family.

new study from the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics shows that from 2002 to 2011, trampoline accidents accounted for more than 1 million ER visits. This equates to 100,000 ER visits a year in the US alone. Springfree eliminates 90 percent of product-related injuries associated with traditional trampolines. Springfree is the only trampoline on the market that offers a safe jumping environment by removing the impact areas that can cause injury including risks from the springs, the frame at the jumping surface, falls to the ground and collision with rigid enclosure poles.

Image courtesy: Springfree

If you are looking to buy a Springfree trampoline I wanted to share that now through December 30th, Springfree is offering FREE shipping and a FREE FlexrHoop with every purchase! Check out all the available sizes and pricing here. There is also a #SpringfreeSurprise contest going on. To enter:

  • Plan an elaborate Springfree Surprise for your family this holiday season.
  • Film or photograph the surprise.
  • Upload your photos/videos/stories to the Springfree Surprise page by December 31st.
  • Share your surprise on social media with the hashtag #SpringfreeSurprise.
Have fun! I’ll be following the hashtag to see all the excited faces on Christmas morning :)

 

Great Gift Ideas From Family Christian {Giveaway}

Still have some names to check off your shopping list? I’m happy to be working with Family Christian to share some of the amazing gifts you can find in their stores and online.

Music- From Holiday CDs to the WOW series full of top hits to Casting Crowns, Family Christian has some great uplifting music. During the Christmas season I love to have holiday music on so I was excited to see Family Christian offering an exclusive ‘A Christmas to Believe in’ CD. Another CD I purchased was Casting Crowns new CD, Thrive. I have not heard the whole album but as one of the top Christian music groups out there I have no doubt that this will bring joy to anyone who receives it.

Kitchen Gifts- If you have someone on your list who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, how about getting them something special to use when they cook or bake? I love these little loaf pans. A great gift idea would be baking a little treat in them and then gifting the treat and dish together with a little note telling the person how thankful you are for them. There are also mugs, serving platters, kitchen tools, casserole dishes and more. Now through Christmas Eve select holiday gifts are 50% off so it’s the perfect time to pick up Christmas dishes, too!

Devotionals & Books- Gifting a book that guides others in quiet time is such a blessing- to them and to you! We love our Veggie Tales devotional but I was excited to give my boys the new Jesus Calling for Kids after hearing on Twitter about how great it was. All Jesus Calling books are 50% off right now. Another special book by one of my favorite Authors/Bloggers called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas would make a nice gift for families looking to start an Advent tradition.

Willow Tree- I wrote a whole post about Willow Tree and all the beautiful figurines they have. Know a pregnant mom, a new dad, or a couple who just got engaged? Willow Tree makes the perfect gift to honor special life moments. Read more about them here.

Home Decor- The home deor pieces from Family Christian make ideal gifts! Encourage a friend with an angel figurine or a wall cross, or share one of their Christian plaques with an inspirational message. This ‘Be The Good’ print is one of my favorites.

Which Christmas gift idea is your favorite? Tell me in the comments below and you are entered to win a $25 gift certificate for Family Christian! Share the giveaway on a social network and leave another comment with the link and that will get you an extra entry. Giveaway ends December 24, 2014 at 11:59pm CST.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

New STEM Toy: brackitz

(Disclosure: My family received this toy for review but thoughts are my own.)

When I taught preschool, almost every child loved playing in the block area. Each day they used wooden blocks to create towers, houses, roads and lots of other creative things. The one downfall to plain blocks though was that you could only stack them. Enter brackitz, an award-winning construction toy system.

These newly evolved blocks helps lay the foundation for high-level cognitive thinking, reasoning and problem solving that kids will continue to benefit from long after childhood. Standard sets include interlocking 4-inch wooden planks, and 90° and 120° angle connectors, which can be pieced together to form a wide variety of models and architectural structures.

What makes brackitz different?

  • Educational – brackitz proudly promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) techniques for young children to learn as they get older. Perfect for classroom use too!
  • Affordable – Choose from sets including 50, 100 and 200 pieces, with prices ranging from $29.95 – $99.95.
  • Build Up AND Out – brackitz can be used to construct innumerable creations; the one-of-a-kind connectors can interlock at different angles and directions and allow children to build circles, corners and bendable masterpieces.
  • Durable – While traditional stacking blocks collapse under pressure, brackitz allow children to build structures as big as they are without falling over. You can even move them around the house and your pets can roam free without causing a falling mess.
  • Safe – brackitz have been tested and are compliant with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for ages 3+.

brackitz sparks the idea of innovation and the opportunity to engage in creativity with trial and error. The connecting system allows children to instantly build strong and durable masterpieces. My kids and nephew loved playing with them and exploring the things they could design with them.

We have the small “creator” set but I think, if I were buying them, I’d purchase one of the larger sets so they can make larger creations. What could your child build with brackitz?

Buy them here.

Give The Gift Of Hope To Families In Need This Holiday Season

Photo courtesy of Heifer International.

For many, the holiday season is a time filled with festivity and fun. For the more than 800 million people in the world that go to bed hungry every night, however, this time of year isn’t filled with the joy that it should be. Together we can change that by giving a gift that can make a meaningful difference for a family in need.

Heifer International works to empower millions to go from poverty to self-reliance by providing alternative gifts of livestock, seeds, trees, training and more to families in need. Heifer’s strategy is the hope that these families will pass on the gift—by sharing their animals’ offspring and their knowledge, resources and skills—to create an expanding network of hope, dignity and self-reliance that reaches around the globe.

Photo courtesy of Heifer International

So while you check off your holiday gift list and gather last minute ideas, consider making this the year you helped end hunger. Give an animal instead of a gift and help change a life! Heifer has some suggestions if you are interested in shopping from the Most Important Gift Catalog in the World:

* GIVE A GOAT Goats provide milk and extra income that lead to opportunities for education and improved healthcare

* GIVE CHICKS Chicks immediately begin producing protein-packed eggs for children and families

* GIVE A COW The gift of a cow can transform a family’s life providing milk, income, and manure for better crop yields.

For every donation, Heifer provides a free custom honor card, making it easy to honor someone special to you. To learn more about alternative gifting and Heifer International please visit: www.heifer.org.

Share The Joy Of Life’s Milestones With Willow Tree Figurines

I’m a Family Christian blogger and this is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

There are some things in my home that just mean the world to me. Some are pictures, some are mementos and then some just represent something to me, like my collection of Willow Tree figurines.

I started my Willow Tree collection when I first became pregnant and bought the “Promise” couple figurine to signify the love between Sinisa and I and the “Cherish” pregnant figurine to celebrate the baby I was carrying. Weeks later I headed to the doctor for a sonogram and discovered I was carrying twins but then got the devastating news that I would most likely be losing one. The set of Willow Tree babies was available at that time and I got them. Every time I walk past them it’s a reminder of my angel baby, Avery. The “Our Gift” couple holding a baby completes my current collection. I hope to get the Mother & Son and the Quietly sets still to keep out year round in my bedroom.

Do you know anyone that is pregnant, getting married or going through major change in their life? I think that Willow Tree figurines would make great gifts. I think it means a lot to people to receive a gift that says “I was thinking about you” and “I’m there for you” instead of just giving a generic gift you could have bought for anyone.

I’m also excited to see that there is a Willow Tree Nativity set at Family Christian! What a beautiful centerpiece to have out at Christmas time. I think it would spark some great conversations during holiday parties with family and friends.

See the whole selection of Willow Tree figurines at Family Christian here.

Christmas Shopping At Kohl’s {$100 Gift Card Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Kohl’s. I received Kohl’s gift cards to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.)

One of my favorite stores to shop at for Christmas gifts is Kohl’s. There is something for everyone on the list. I shopped online at Kohls.com on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One thing that draws me in at this time of year especially is the sales. Why stand in line for hours on Thanksgiving or the wee hours of Black Friday when Kohl’s has amazing deals + 20% off codes + $15 Kohl’s cash and I can shop from my couch?!

Early last week I felt so behind because I had not purchased one single thing for Christmas but now, one week from Black Friday, I’m about halfway to being done. I don’t have a ton of people to buy for which is nice. Most of my money is spent on my children and then I also buy gifts for my immediate family. From Kohl’s I’ve bought the video games my boys wanted, a building set, Christmas shirts for holiday pictures, gifts for my niece and even a gift for myself!

How is your Christmas shopping going? If you are one of the many moms I know who has a list full of Disney Frozen items to buy you need to head to Kohl’s and check out the whole line of Frozen items. Through Monday (12/8/14) there is a wonderful family & friends sale. Kohl’s cash is back and if you spend more than $100 you get 25% off your order.

Since I’ve shared Disney Frozen gifts for the kids over the past couple of months (see here and here), I thought I’d share some gifts for the whole family can enjoy (even those of us who just act like kids ;) lol).

How perfect would this waffle maker be for a family breakfast before a day of playing in the snow?

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This game would be great for family game night!

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The whole family can play a little game of Frozen basketball while staying warm indoors.

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Start a new family tradition- family karaoke night!

With over 800 unique Disney Frozen gift ideas, Kohl’s will help you get your Christmas shopping done so you can spend the days cuddling with your kids or having a snowball fight instead of standing in line. Which is your favorite item from the Disney Frozen collection on Kohls.com?

To get you in the shopping mood head on over to see the Kohl’s Holiday commercial featuring the winner of the Disney Frozen Sing Your Heart Out contest! America voted Long Island sisters Katherine & Kelly Montenero the winners. See the winning video here.

Here’s something else to make shopping easy…a $100 Kohl’s gift card giveaway! It’s easy to enter. Just leave a comment telling me why you want to win. For an extra entry you can share this giveaway on social media (just leave a second comment saying you did so).

Giveaway ends December 11, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident, 21 or older to win. Good luck!

 

Building Fun With K’nex {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Certified.)

Kids love building toys. Last Christmas I shared a top 10 building toys for preschoolers list and today I’m excited to be sharing more about one of those toys that made that list- K’nex! Check below for a giveaway to enter to win your own set.

The boys enjoy playing with K’nex and the set we were sent from American Certified is the biggest set they have. An instruction booklet with over 70 ideas comes with the set but my boys love making their own creations. Cars seem to be a favorite when they build something specific.

The sturdy cardboard box makes it easy to store and all of our K’nex sets can fit nicely in this one treasure chest which makes cleaning up easy. The box says these specific K’nex are for ages 7 and up but my five year old has no problem using them. If you have a younger child there are other sets called “Kid K’nex” that might be better for them.

Enter in the form below for a chance to win a set for yourself! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Unique Gift Ideas For Music Lovers

This blog post was written as part of my collaboration with eBay.

Some people seem to have everything which makes it hard to shop for them. One way to find them the perfect gift that they don’t have is to look for unique items that are either one of a kind or very rare. Check out my gift suggestions over on eBay! 

Cookie Bouquets From Cookies By Design

Looking for a fun, delicious gift to send to a friend or family member? Cookie Bouquets from Cookies by Design are the perfect gift idea! My boys received this ‘Merry Christmas’ bouquet and they were so excited when they found out the Christmas shapes were cookies that they’d get to eat.

The boys picked out their favorite designs and I chose the Christmas tree one to eat. I loved the detailed designs on the cookies. Every one was pretty perfect and it was obvious that quite some time was spent creating each cookie. They were also individually packaged which I thought was a nice touch.

Cookies by Design has a variety of other cookie bouquets for the holidays including beautiful poinesetta shaped cookies and elves going down the chimney. See the full line of available bouquets here.

Easy DIY Teacher’s Gifts

Looking for a creative gift for your child’s teacher? Today I wanted to share a couple easy DIY gifts I made for the kids to give. Not only are they easy, but they are quick and inexpensive, too! Thanks to QVC for sponsoring today’s crafts!

Lately I have been kind of obsessed with Washi tape. If you don’t know what that is, it’s like colorful masking tape. You can buy it at any craft store and even in the aisles of your favorite big box store. Some have stripes or designs and some are solid color. I had a really cute polka dot printed one that I wanted to use so I decorated a mason jar cup and a supply box with them.

“I’m BURSTing with excitement that you are my teacher” Mug

Materials:

  • Cup or mug of some kind (I used an Insulated Mason Jar Tumbler from QVC)
  • Washi tape
  • Starburst Candy
  • Small piece of paper
  • Sharpie

To make, wrap the mugs handle with washi tape and anywhere else you want to decorate it. I decided to do a line of washi along the bottom but do what looks best on your cup or mug. Fill with Starburst candy (but not too tightly because you’ll need to fit the straw in between the candies). Once the cup is filled and the lid is on it’s time to make a little card. I chose to wrap a small piece of paper in washi tape so the little card matched but you can do whatever kind of card you’d like. Since the cup is filled with Starburst candy I wrote a note saying, “I’m BURSTing with excitement that you are my teacher”.

Extra Supplies Box

Materials:

  • School supply box
  • Washi tape
  • School supplies to put in the box

This was a last minute idea. I had all the supplies on hand since Luke’s teacher told me the day before school that he didn’t need any school supplies. I figured I’d put the supplies to good use by giving them to Jake’s teacher as extras because I know kids always run out mid year. This way the teacher would get extra supplies for the classroom and have a cute decorated box to keep their desk organized.

To make it I just wrapped washi tape around the bottom of the box, one row at a time. I tried to match up the dots on each line so it would blend together better. I then put a row around the top and wrote “extra supplies”. (After we took pictures I decided I didn’t like how my writing looked on it so I took that top piece off so the bottom was the only thing wrapped.) Once it was done I filled the box with supplies including sharpened pencils, small scissors, dry erase markers, crayons, and highlighters.

Looking for more DIY ideas? Tune in to You’re Home with Jill® on QVC every Wednesday at 7pm (ET), through October. Jill Bauer’s popular show, You’re Home with Jill®provides fans with simple solutions for their busy lives through innovative products, a library of stress-free DIY projects, and crowd-pleasing recipes. Fans can connect with Jill on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram @jillbauerqvc.

 

Sweet Treats For Little Valentines

Make your child’s Valentine’s Day lunch or snack special this year by giving them a delicious treat. Cheryl’s sent me a beautiful tin full of cookies and other goodies to share with my boys.

The sugar cookies were really good and had a hint of lemon flavoring to them. I also thought the little bird cookie was adorable. The boys liked the frosted heart shaped cookies and the pretzels that were covered with sprinkles.

Looking on Cheryl’s website I saw a bunch of cute gifts for Valentine’s Day. The cookie bouquets were nice as was the “tweetheart” box. If you are looking to have cookies delivered for your valentine then make sure to place your order by 3pm EST today!

 

They also have $5 cookie cards that are perfect for every occasion from happy birthdays to get well wishes.

Chocolate Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is this Friday! If you are still looking for gift ideas I have a few to share from Fannie May and appreciate them sending me a box of chocolates to review. I shared around the Holidays how chocolates were my go-to gift to give and the same is true for gift giving around Valentine’s Day. Since most people love chocolate as much as I do it’s an easy gift to give.

When I received the box of chocolates last week, Jacob was excited to see all of the candy. Every day he has been picking out one to try and we take guesses as to what is inside the chocolate coating. It’s a special moment between the two of us and something we both look forward to each day.

Along with the typical box of chocolate, Fannie May has an assortment of special Valentine’s Day gifts. Here are some of my favorite:

Champagne Celebration Strawberries

Giant, hand-picked strawberries are generously dipped in creamy white and pink champagne-infused real chocolate and decoratively sprinkled with gold, platinum and clear sugar.

Assorted Chocolates – Heart Box, 2 lb.

Milk chocolate, dark chocolate or a combination of both, this essential assortment has something for everyone, from buttercreams and rich nougats, to buttery caramels. This is the box of chocolates that we received from Fannie May. I love the caramels and Jacob’s favorites are the wrapped chocolate hearts. They are housed in a beautiful box that makes this the perfect gift to give!

Loving Favorite Gifts Tower

A selection of favorite confections for your Valentine, each Loving Favorite Gifts Tower weighs 2 lbs, 9 oz and comes filled with: 4 oz Valentine Pixies, 1 lb Delights Individually Wrapped Chocolates, 5 oz Milk Truffle Hearts, 4 Milk Grahams, 4 Milk Cookies, 4 Milk Pretzels, and 4 White Pretzels. Yum! If you have multiple people on your gift list you could even split this one up and give the boxes in the tower out to separate people.

Which gift is your favorite?

Shipping Note: The website says if you order by today (2/11 at 3pm EST) you can use ground shipping and get the gift to your Valentine in time. Waited until the last minute? You can still order and choose overnight delivery on 2/13 for delivery on 2/14 or visit one of their Chicago area stores.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas From The Fruit Company

I love chocolate on Valentine’s Day but it’s also nice to give {and get} healthier options as well so that is why I wanted to share about The Fruit Company’s gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. You can give those you love some sweet, delicious fruit along with other goodies. We received the Red Pear Valentine Tower for review and it was great because it had something for everyone in it.

This gift tower is packed with four Red D’Anjou pears, chocolate covered cherries, zebra chocolate popcorn, strawberry yogurt pretzels and two Fuji apples. Sinisa loved the pears and the boys gobbled up the apples. Jacob thought the pretzels tasted just like his favorite drink, strawberry milk. My favorites were the chocolate covered cherries. They were really juicy and I thought it was a great mix of fruit and chocolate.

Some other gift ideas from The Fruit Company include:

Valentine Berries

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Organic Pink Fruit Basket

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 Chocolate Truffle Lava Cakes

If you are shopping last minute make sure to check out their website for special Valentine’s Day shipping. Choose Valentine’s Day delivery, and receive upgraded shipping at no extra cost as long as your order is placed by noon, PST, February 13, 2014.

Showing Love With Baked Goods {Gift Card Giveaways}

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post as part of Rich Products #bakerybecause program but all thoughts are my own.)

My boys love their sweets so for Valentine’s Day I wanted to give them some gifts they could enjoy for a special dessert. I’d love to bake but don’t really have much time to do so, so I head to my local grocery store to pickup their favorite cookies and cakes. Instead of just picking up items from the store and giving them in the bakery boxes I decided to get a little creative and figure out some special ways to share them.

I had some chocolate brownies and I decided to make the large brownies into bite sized pieces so they were easier for my kids to eat and not as messy. Once cut I packaged them in a couple different ways.

I used a gift card box and took out the insert inside where the card was supposed to go. I added Valentine’s themed mini muffin wrappers and then put a piece of brownie in each wrapper. Put the lid on, add a couple pieces of tape to the sides, and voila….a little box of yumminess!

For the second half of the brownies I decided to put them in these cute baking wrappers I found. You could even add some mini marshmallows in with them! Once in the wrappers they can be enclosed in clear cellophane.

I found a lot of fun ways to give the cookies. Some I put in little dollar value boxes I found. Some I put into treat bags decorated with curly ribbons at the top. I found a mug with some candies in it and took the candies out and refilled it with cookies which I think would be a great gift paired with a package of coffee beans or a gift card to a coffee shop. I also found little Valentine’s take out boxes with heart cut outs that I thought would be a hit with Sinisa as a special dessert after a Chinese dinner.

I also found a box of mini chocolate cakes adorned with frosting hearts. They were adorable so I wanted to display them. These will be given in a heart shaped tray wrapped in the heart cellophane that the white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies are wrapped in.

What is your favorite way to gift baked goods and who would you give a delicious gift to? Check out the giveaway below!

GIVEAWAY

Three people will win $25 gift cards

HOW TO ENTER

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me who makes your life special

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Leave a comment telling me what special way you’d gift a baked good

4) Subscribe to this blog via email

Giveaway ends February 20, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to win.

Great Chuggington Giveaway: Stacktrack Set & Chug Patrol App

Do you have a little Chuggington fan? If so, I have some exciting news for you and a great giveaway you are going to love! StoryToys, a leading publisher of interactive books and games for children, recently released “Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue,” a 3D interactive storybook for children and it is currently 50% off!

The “Chug Patrol: Ready To Rescue” app is available in the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for $4.99 on smartphones and tablets. The “Chug Patrol” app features Wilson as he proves to be a brave new hero of the rails. He’s “in control and ready to roll!” Brewster and Koko also move up to advanced training, taking lessons from new mentors and helping with more important tasks. Children can read or listen to the story, and then turn the page to see a 3D pop-up scene magically unfold. They can then join in the action for themselves, all while earning Chug Patrol badges for their collection. Readers will ride along with Koko as she masters speed control and braking, build new track in the forest with Brewster, make a daring rescue from the mine with Wilson, save Emery when his brakes fail, and much more.

“Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue” includes the following features:

  • Amazing 3D book experience – it’s just like a real pop-up book.
  • Nine interactive pop-up scenes with exciting games and puzzles.
  • Fully narrated in multiple languages by original actors from the series.
  • Read to Me, Read it Myself, and Autoplay modes.
  • 21 beautifully presented pages of text.
  • Win a badge when each task is completed, just like a real Chug Patroller!
  • Features a fantastic musical score and lots of amazing sound effects.

Love a good deal? StoryToys has a two week Christmas promotion running through January 3rd and Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue is 50% off! They also have other great sales including: Grimm’s Hansel & Gretel (free!) and all other books in the library will be $1 off (apart from books that are already $0.99).

 GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a Chuggington StackTrack Ready to Race Deluxe Action Playset by TOMY and a free code for the Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue phone app!

Chuggington StackTrack Ready to Race Playset takes kids on a twisting, turning, spiraling adventure that scales four levels of fun. Experience the only die-cast railway that combines train and construction play to deliver the tallest, most action-packed train play ever. This innovative train track system lets kids build tall, spiraling layouts…so tall, in fact, that TOMY set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for World’s Tallest Toy Train Track this spring at Grand Central Terminal in New York City!

The Ready to Race Playset inspires construction creativity with eight different layout options—each designed to encourage imagination and amp up the play value. High Performance engine technology eliminates the frustration of flipping engines or disastrous derailments with engines that stay on track—even when screeching down a two foot tall layout! Plus, the set is compatible with all other Chuggington StackTrack and die-cast sets, delivering endless track layout possibilities.

Ages: 3 and up. MSRP: $89.99

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this giveaway for

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Tweet: Enter to win @Tomy_toy’s @Chuggington StackTrack & Chug Patrol app from @Storytoys via @aliciamarie112 http://wp.me/p2UYm7-5AZ #Traintastic

4) Comment on another one of my blog posts

5) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

6) Follow @Storytoys on Twitter

Giveaway ends January 5, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to win.

Books For Boys {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I received a set of books to review but all thoughts are my own.)

If you have a little boy that is fascinated by all things that rumble, crumble and crash, a new series by Capstone Book for Young Readers is a SMASH-ingly great gift for this holiday season! The aptly named DESTRUCTION series features four very sturdy board books where readers can follow along as a building is imploded, a car goes into the crusher, a wrecking ball destroys a wall and tires are shredded to bits. Crush It!Knock It Down!Blow It Up!; and Shred It! all feature big, bright images and movable parts that allow the reader to blow it up, knock it down, crush and shred it — perfect for little ones mesmerized by destruction!

Lucas, who is always on the go, is not a fan of typical books. He doesn’t enjoy looking at picture books but he loved these books because he could do things while he was looking at the pictures. He can move the wrecking ball back and forth, make a building crumble to the ground, crush old cars and more.

I also liked that these books were very sturdy. Having multiple kids, it is great when I know items will last for more than one child. The colors of these books were nice as well and the bright colors grabbed Luke’s attention along with my own.

For more information about the series and purchasing information please visit: http://www.capstoneyoungreaders.com/products/crush-it-/.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win all 4 books in the series and a yellow construction hat

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any 0r all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this set for

2)  Share this giveaway on a social network

Giveaway ends January 5, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to enter.

Chicago’s Favorite Chocolates

(Disclosure: I received a box of chocolates for review but all thoughts are my own.)

You all know I love chocolate. As a Chicagoan, I am lucky to have one of the very best chocolate companies based right here in my area- Fannie May! I can’t remember a Christmas without a box of Fannie May chocolates. My favorites include their pixies and their mint meltaways. I also enjoy their boxes of assorted chocolates.

I’ll tell you a funny story that I am extremely embarrassed to share…. when I was younger (a long time ago) we had a box of assorted chocolates in the fridge. I don’t remember how old I was but I was young enough that I couldn’t just eat as many chocolates as I wanted because they were limited to a dessert item. Well I had my favorites and then flavors I had never tried. I was in the fridge one day when I decided that I wanted to try the other flavors but didn’t want to be selfish and eat the whole piece of chocolate so I took a bite of a few of them and left the other halves in the fridge.

At the time it made sense in my head to share the other half with someone else but, as you can imagine, my dad was not very happy that I had left half-eaten chocolate in the fridge. He probably would have preferred that I just ate the whole piece. Looking back I realize now that a knife would have been a better cutting choice than my teeth. I think about that story every time I have a box of chocolates from Fannie May and it brings back memories of my childhood every time I bite into a piece of chocolate. 

Along with the special memories I have of Fannie May chocolates, I think the chocolate is delicious. I took a look at their website and chose some of the gifts I think *someone* would like if you haven’t bought me them a gift yet ;)

Sea Salt Caramels

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Milk Chocolate Pixies

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Artisan Holiday Bark

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Mint Meltaways

I checked and it’s not too late to place your order for Christmas. There is a 20% off sale and free 2nd day shipping promotion as well. Head on over to their website for full details!

Gift Ideas For Creative Kids From ShopVault.com

(Disclosure: I received a playhouse for my kids but all thoughts are my own.)

Looking for gift ideas? The internet is full of them and I’m here to share my favorite creative gifts from a site I have newly discovered called VAULT. ShopVault.com is a curated marketplace where the most unique and the most sought after brands have been hand picked by influential tastemakers. Members get a first look at hot new inventory and private invitations to exclusive events. It’s free to join and you even get a special discount of $20 off your first purchase of $30 or more!

Here are five gifts I think creative kids would love:

Color Your Own Playhouse Castle

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Piggy Couture Picasso Art Kit

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Veggie Sidewalk Chalk

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Wool Felt Jewelry Kit

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Lay ‘n’ Go Lego Carrier

Angry Birds Go! Telepods Pig Rock Raceway Set {Giveaway}

My boys are really into Angry Birds lately. They love the phone app but they also enjoy playing with the playsets. I shared about the small set we got back in October (find the review here) and this month Hasbro sent us the ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS PIG ROCK RACEWAY Set.

This set is so much fun! Lucas was home sick from school today and, once I set it up for him, spent over an hour playing with the set (which is great for him considering he doesn’t have much of an attention span).

Two of the birds are in little cars and, with the push of a button, race each other along this long race track. There are extra obstacles you can add to the excitement but for my four year old the basic racing was enough to keep him occupied.

It was so cute listening to Lucas say, “you win! yay!” over and over again when one of the cars would get to the end of the track.

Another way to play with the characters from this set is to use the phone app and teleport your angry bird into the game. The boys think it’s so cool that they can do this.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win an Angry Birds Go! Telepods Pig Rock Raceway Set

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win this for

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Comment on another one of my blog posts

Giveaway ends December 30, 2013 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to enter.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a game for review.)

Top 10 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

Here are 10 of my favorite stocking stuffer ideas that are not edible:

Art Supplies: crayons, markers, collage materials, little pads of paper, stamps and ink pads, stickers, playdough, art smock

Toiletries: mini bubble bath bottles, fun character toothbrushes, mini tubes of toothpaste

Vehicles: trains, cars, small planes, construction vehicles

Wearable Items: socks, hats, underwear, jewelry, gloves, dress up clothes

Figures: tiny dolls, Super Hero Squad super heroes, small princesses, dinosaurs, farm animals, characters from movies or TV shows

Games: Go Fish card game, character dominoes, Fruitominoes, game for electronic system

Musical Instruments: harmonica, recorder, triangle

Building Toys: lego bricks, wooden blocks, magnetic block sets

Books: any soft cover books that interest your kids, coloring books

Bath Fun: bath toys, bath crayons, bath squirters

Find more great gift ideas in these posts:

Stocking Stuffers for All Ages {Top Ten Holiday Lists} from Something 2 Offer

Top 10 Stocking Stuffers for Boys Ages 3+ from Stir the Wonder

Stocking & Stuffer Ideas for Kids from Powerful Mothering

Top 10 Stocking Stuffers for Preschoolers from Makeovers & Motherhood

Top 10 Stocking Stuffers for Preschoolers from P is for Preschooler

Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers for Preschoolers from Little Bins for Little Hands

DIY Stocking Stuffers Ideas from Creative World of Varya

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Baskets and Flower Arrangements

I love getting unexpected surprises delivered to my door. Whether it’s a package I forgot was coming or a special gift from a friend it’s exciting. Some of my favorite things to receive are gift baskets from 1-800-Baskets. They recently sent me their Resplendent Elegance Holiday Gift Basket which was full of chocolates and other goodies.

This gourmet gift basket features some of my favorite chocolate brands like Fannie May, Ghirardelli, and Ferrero Rocher. As a sweets lover this basket is perfect because most of the items are chocolates, other candies, and cookies. There are a couple items in the basket for those times when I’m craving something salty as well.

Some other items from 1-800-Baskets that would make nice gifts include:

Best of Ghirardelli® Gift Basket

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Starbucks® Fan Favorite Coffee Basket

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Holiday Cheer Market Box

Another option is to send a gift from 1-800-flowers. I love having fresh flowers in my home. Look at how beautiful these flower arrangements are:

 

Fields of Europe™ for Christmas

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Glorious Christmas™

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Candy Cane Lilies

So many great gift ideas! If you want to give one of the baskets for Christmas you need to hurry because I just found out that the deadline to place orders is 12/19!

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a gift basket from 1-800-Baskets. All thoughts are my own.)

 

Zume Games: Gift Ideas For Outdoor Fun

(Disclosure: I received a game from Zume Games and can’t wait to play it this spring!)

Do you have someone in your life who loves the outdoors? I have some great gift ideas for them! Escalade Sports, a national leader in recreational sporting goods, has a line of outdoor games called Zume Games that put an innovative twist on traditional outdoor games. Zume Games are portable, easy to play, durable and designed for safe play. 

Zume Games’ must-haves include TENNIZ™, DIZK™, and TOZZ™. Here is some more about these fun games:

TENNIZ™

The instant tennis match you can play almost anywhere. TENNIZ is ideal for building skills and having fun. Perfect for kids and beginners or family recreational play, TENNIZ is lightweight, portable and features ultra-quick setup. TENNIZ comes complete with two 21-inch rackets, 2 TENNIZ balls, 12-foot net and convenient carrying case.  TENNIZ is suitable for ages 8+ and is available for purchase online at Amazon.com and Zume-Games.com. SRP: $79.99.

DIZK™

DIZK is a super-tough, soft-touch, great-grip flying disc featuring a unique design to help it fly, float and flex like no other. Its center hole creates more ways to catch and its versatility makes it great for perfecting those flying disk tricks. DIZK is suitable for ages 6+ and is available for purchase at Sports Authority, MC Sports, Sports Chalet and online at Amazon.com and Zume-Games.com. SRP: $14.99.

TOZZ™

TOZZ is a soft-touch, great-grip football that was made to grip it and rip it, allowing you to get more out of your arm. Its center aerodynamic air tunnel helps create an amazing spiral on every throw. TOZZ’s easy to launch, easy to catch design is suitable for ages 6+ and is available for purchase at Sports Authority, MC Sports, Sports Chalet and online at Amazon.com and Zume-Games.com. SRP: $17.99.

Don’t those all sound like so much fun!?

Gift Ideas For Boys, Sneaky Shopping Tips & A Target Gift Card Giveaway

Target recently gave me a gift card and sent me on a Christmas shopping mission with my kids to one of their stores. My challenge? Be a kids’ gift detective and purchase toys for my boys without them knowing.

Sometimes shopping for kids can be hard. Jacob and Lucas tell me they want everything that they see on television so it’s not always easy to decide which gifts they want the most. With Sinisa working so much it’s also difficult for me to find time to go shopping. While I do a lot of my shopping online, I’ve found that sometimes I just prefer the shopping experience in-real-life instead of online.

Target gave me some great ideas on how I could shop with my children without them knowing. Here are the ideas I was given:

  • Kids’ Gift Detective Tip 1: While shopping at Target for your everyday needs, indulge your kids with a stroll down the toy aisle. As they interact and point out toys they like such as the Air Hogs Atmosphere, you can easily pull out your smartphone and use the Target app to purchase it right there in the toy aisle without them ever knowing it.
  • Kids’ Gift Detective Tip 2: For an upcoming shopping trip, bring the other parent, friend or grandparent who can bring the kids to a different part of the store for a snack while you make purchases of the gifts. Or, doing your shopping with the kids’ while in plain sight and tell your kids the items are being given to a cousin or friend, so your kids won’t even realize the gift is for them.
  • Kids’ Gift Detective Tip 3: Enlist your kids in the shopping fun. Want a sneaky way to find out exactly what your kids want for the holidays while also shopping for a good cause? Tell your kids you’re shopping for gifts to donate to a local charity, and have them pick out the toys to donate. Your kids will love scanning the aisles for their favorite items, like the Flutterbye Flying Fairy or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles R/C Shellraiser. Little do they know that the items you’re picking out will also be the gifts they’ll find under the tree. To make sure they don’t blow your cover, you can drop off items you bought at your local charity and order the items online that they picked out for their Christmas gifts.
  • Kid’s Gift Detective Tip 4: If you don’t have a partner in crime to help during your covert shopping trip, make sure to disguise or hide the items you put in your cart. When you arrive at the store, line your cart with “undesirables” (like jumbo packs of frozen Brussels sprouts or books about manners) so your kids can’t see the real gems hidden inside. You can also swing by the container aisle to convert your cart into a covert shopping storage machine. Just place one big, closeable bin into the basket and add their wish list items to the bin while you wheel through the aisles.

For my shopping trip, I decided to focus on my 5 year old’s gift ideas. I seem to be full of gift ideas for preschoolers but for some reason that next year up is harder. He’s too big for preschool toys but too young for many elementary toys. I went along the lines of #2 and told him I wanted him to show me 5 toys that he thought his friends wanted most for Christmas. At his age, his “friends” wants are still suspiciously the same as what he wants ;)

Here were his choices:

Skylanders is #1 on Jacob’s list. The newest game out is Skylanders Swap Force which he loves. Really anything Skylanders will do!
Angry Birds Telepods toys go with the phone app and are a big hit in our house as well.
Switch & Go Dinos were mentioned a few months ago and here he shares again that they’d be in his top 5. Vehicles that turn into dinosaurs? Pretty cool!
Jacob got this Hot Wheels Set for his birthday. Cars are always a hit with this age group!

This LeapPad bundle tied with the Nintendo 3DS as a top electronic gift. For the LeapPad Jake thought a 5 year old boy would like a SpongeBob game the most and his top 3DS game was Pokemon. 

Target also shares some of their top gifts for boys in that age range. They are:

  • 4-pk. Disney Planes Die-Cast Gift Set (Target Exclusive)
  • Imaginext Justice League Javelin (Target Exclusive)
  • Angry Birds Go Pirate Ship
  • Kidtrax SRT Viper 6-Volt Ride-On Car
  • MEGA Bloks Hot Wheels Super Stunt Test Facility
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles R/C Shellraiser
  • Zoomer

So many great gift ideas! Need help figuring out how to hide all of the fabulous gifts? Don’t worry because Target has ideas about how to do that as well! Find them all here.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Target Gift Card

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me a sneaky shopping tip you have

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Share a picture of yourself using the Target Kids’ Gift Detective tips on Twitter.

Use the #MyKindofHoliday hashtag to tag your pictures.

4) Subscribe to this blog

5) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends December 20, 2013 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to enter.

(Disclosure: As stated above, Target gave me a gift card to use. All thoughts are my own.)

Diamond & Amethyst Earrings Deal & A Giveaway {5 Winners!}

(Disclosure: I am receiving earrings in exchange for posting about this giveaway. Thoughts are my own.)

As a woman there is nothing more exciting than receiving a tiny little box on Christmas and finding diamond jewelry inside. I think the reason is because it’s something we normally wouldn’t buy for ourselves because it tends to be expensive. I have a secret to share though….

Today, December 6th, 1Sale has  1/10th ct Diamond and 6.5 Amethyst Earrings, value $199, for only $29.99 today!

At 1Sale every day is Black Friday getting up to 90% off retail prices on products each day ranging from electronics, housewares, jewelry, accessories and more. New daily deals are posted at 12 midnight Eastern time every day. And there is no need for group buying on 1Sale! Anyone can get these daily deals for gifts, personal shopping, etc.

Last Christmas I found an amazing deal that I thought was too good to be true and got a dream light and pillow pet set for only $20. I was so excited for my boys to get them. Make sure to check out the other great deals being offered today!

GIVEAWAY:

5 people will each win an earring set, valued at $199!!

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you want to win these earrings for

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow @1SaleADay on Twitter

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Comment on another one of my blog posts

Giveaway ends December 23, 2013 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident, age 18 or older to enter.

Top Ten Pretend Play Toys For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

This week I’m sharing about my favorite toys to help preschoolers imaginations grow during pretend play. Props can take children from their homes and magically turn them into everything from Doctors to cashiers at the store to veterinarians.

One of my fondest memories of school when I was younger was when my teacher made a make-shift grocery store with old food boxes we had all brought in from our homes. We then used pretend money, pushed around shopping carts, and “shopped”. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s what created my love for shopping :)

While many items can be found around the house, some specially purchased items can enhance pretend play for preschoolers. Here are my ten favorite pretend play toys for preschoolers:

Fisher-Price Medical Kit

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 Learning Resources Pretend & Play Sliceable Fruits &Veggies

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Playhut Lil Explorers Big Red Fire Engine

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Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register

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Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart

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Community Helpers Gear (and any costumes you can find)

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Baby Doll (Any doll will work. Don’t forget the accessories and gear)

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Kitchen Set (My favorites are made by Step2)

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Black & Decker Junior 25 Piece Tool Set (and a toolbench if you have room)

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Melissa & Doug Birthday Party Set

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Looking for more pretend play favorites? Check out these posts:

Pretend Play Toys for Boys and Girls {Top Ten Holiday Lists} from Something 2 Offer

Top 10 Pretend Play Toys for Toddler Boys from Stir the Wonder

Top 10 Lists: Pretend Play Toys for under 3 year olds from Powerful Mothering

Top 10 Gifts to Encourage Pretend Play for Preschoolers from Makeovers & Motherhood

Top 10 Pretend Play Toys for Preschoolers from P is for Preschooler

Top 10 Pretend Play Toys in Our House from Creative World of Varya

Top 10 Preschool Pretend Play Toys from Little Bins for Little Hands

 

Tabeo e2 Kid’s Tablet From Toys“R”Us

(Disclosure: I received a Tabeo e2 tablet from Toys”R”Us to review but all thoughts are my own.)

My two kids love their tech gadgets so I was excited to learn that Toys”R”Us has their own tablet. The all-new Android™ Jelly Bean 4.2 Tabeo e2 Wi-Fi tablet was created especially for kids. This unique 8-inch tablet features lightning fast performance to handle even the most action-packed games, sharper graphics, advanced parental controls, expanded storage and so much more.

This tablet comes complete with high-impact screen protection, dual-facing cameras, a tabeo App Store packed with thousands of free, kid-friendly applications, plus dozens of preloaded premium apps. With included fan-favorite kids’ apps like Need for Speed™ Most WantedBejeweled® 2The Game of LifeTemple Run 2Fruit NinjaCrayola DigiTools EffectsCartoon NetworkWWE and Playrific, children will enjoy hours of entertainment, fun and education. Available in a blue, pink or clear protective case, the Bluetooth™ enabled device also features an extensive ecosystem of products, including speakers, docking stations and licensed accessories. No batteries required. This tablet is geared towards ages 6 to 11 years but my 4 and 5 year olds have no trouble using it.

My thoughts:

Compared to our regular Android tablet, the Tabeo e2 is a lot more family friendly and has great parent controls. I loved that we could whitelist websites so we had better control over what sites they can go on. This tablet also allows parents to limit the time their kids can be on the tablets which is nice because I don’t even have to say anything when their turns are over.

Have a long car trip ahead? Gone are the days of bags full of things to keep the kids busy because this tablet can entertain them for hours. The Tabeo e2 comes with 30 pre-loaded apps and over a thousand more to download. This tablet is smaller and lighter than our other tablet which makes it great for little hands. It also features a headphone jack so parents don’t have to listen to the soundtracks of their kid’s favorite games again and again. If your child loves taking pictures this tablet is nice because it features two cameras, both rear and forward facing.

The only downfall of this tablet is that occasionally it seems to run kind of slow. I think that all the great features of the Tabeo e2 still make this the best choice for kids but it’s worth mentioning. This tablet can be purchased at Toys”R”Us in stores or online for $149.99 regular price. It’s currently on sale for $119.99!

 

Our Favorites From The Chicago Toy & Game Fair

(Disclosure: My family attended the Chicago Toy & Game Fair as media and received some free toys and games. I also purchased some items there. All thoughts are my own.)

Last Saturday morning we spent time playing at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair. There were lots of great games and toys, some that we had seen before and many that were new to us. Here are some of our favorites we found:

Tenkai Knights

Tenkai Knights are small bricks that turn into figures about the size of LEGO men. My boys both loved these even though they are a bit too young for them (the package says 6-14). There are also larger sets to build that go with these Tenkai Knights.

Chuggington Trains and Track Sets

We love Chuggington at our house and have many of the trains and sets. The folks from Chuggington set up this tall track by hooking together multiple sets and all the kids went wild over it. These trains and track sets would make a great gift for preschoolers!

Pokemon Battle Arena

Jacob, my 5 year old, has just gotten into Pokemon lately. He enjoyed playing with the characters that went along with this Battle Arena but the arena itself was a little too advanced for him. This would make a great gift for the Pokemon lover who is about 7-9 years old.

Pop The Pig

Pop the Pig is a fun game for preschoolers that both boys enjoyed checking out. It will be under our Christmas tree this year.

Crazy Forts

Crazy Forts is the perfect activity for a rainy day. Kids build a structure with the pieces and then use a blanket or sheet to create a fort. Lucas loved sitting inside the igloo fort they made.

 Overall, we had a ton of fun. So many new games and toys were added to our Christmas list!

Gift Guide Is Live! 100+ Gift Ideas

I am so excited to share that Making Time For Mommy’s 2013 Christmas Gift Guide is live!! Over 100 different gift ideas are featured and more are being added daily. There is something for everyone which makes shopping for Christmas gifts so much easier. Check back often for more ideas and some great giveaways that will be coming in the next month!

Also, if you have a young child and celebrate Advent make sure to check out my post about the Truth in The Tinsel Advent ebook for little kids. Use code “MAKINGTIME” for 20% off the ebook. Hurry because Advent starts on Sunday!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, find some great deals and spend lots of quality time with the people you love.

Gifts That Give Back To Mercy House Kenya

(Disclosure: I joined in supporting this cause because it’s important to me and did so without expectation of receiving anything in return, however, recently I was sent some unexpected gifts as a thank you.)

Back in September I shared about a great cause I was helping support and raise money for called Mercy House. A group of bloggers came together with {in}courage with a goal of raising $74,000 by Christmas. The project was split into 5 phases and I’m so happy to share that the first four phases have been fully funded! These moms and babies now have a new van, new classroom space, a new generator, and computer lab. Now it’s time to work on funding a second home and we have a little under a month to raise the money.

We’d love if you’d help by donating money to the project. Another option is to purchase your Christmas gifts through Mercy House or to purchase select {in}mercy items from Dayspring because both donate a portion of the proceeds to the cause. You can give a great gift while doing something amazing for these moms and kids in Kenya. What’s better than that?

Here are some of my favorite items:

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Find more gifts here and here!

 

 

Top Ten Building Toys For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

Blocks are the first toy that probably comes to mind when you read the title of this post but I want to share some other fun building toys that are on my list of top toys for preschoolers.

Tinkertoy

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K’nex

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Bristle Blocks

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Trio Building Set

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Magna Tiles

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LEGO Bricks (these ones for 4+ and larger bricks for 3s and Under)

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Lincoln Logs

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Waffle Blocks

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Gears Building Set

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Wooden Blocks

Here are some other posts from bloggers sharing their favorites:

 Building Toys for Boys and Girls {Top Ten Holiday Lists} from Something 2 Offer

Top 10 Building Toys for Toddlers from Stir the Wonder

Top 10 Lists: Building Toys for under 3 year olds from Powerful Mothering

Top 10 Building Toys for Preschoolers from Makeovers & Motherhood

Top 10 Building Toys for Preschoolers from P is for Preschoolers

Top 10 Preschool Building Toys from Little Bins for Little Hands

Top 10 Building Toys From Our Childhood from Creative World of Varya

Gifts for Future Female Engineers from Afterschool for Smarty Pants

 What is your favorite building toy?

10 Gifts Under $40 And More Dream Gifts From Kohl’s

(Disclosure: I attended an event at a Kohl’s store and received a gift card for my time. All thoughts are my own.)

I love the Holiday season. The cookie baking, Christmas tree decorating, carol singing and hot chocolate drinking days are some of the most fun ones of the year. One thing not on the “fun” list? Shopping for the perfect Christmas gift. I love the gift giving part but going from store to store to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list is one of the most stressful parts of the season.

Last week I got a sneak peek at Kohl’s Christmas gift selection and I realized that shopping for gifts could be fun and easy when you shop at one location. From toys to home decor to fashions for the whole family you’ll find everything you need at Kohl’s. The best part? With the great deals they have you’ll save enough money on gifts to buy yourself something nice.

Trying to figure out what to get those hard to shop for people on your list? Here are 10 great gift ideas under $40.

doc mcstuffins doctor bag and doll gift set

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Food Network™ wine sweaters

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Simply Vera Vera Wang initial box necklace

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Big Wheels riders

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Wembley slippers

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San Miguel picadilly votive candle holder

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Melissa & Doug slice and bake cookie sheet

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essie nail polish kit

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St. Nicholas Square® angel tealight candle holder

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Sony® studio monitor stereo headphones

Top Ten Games For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

Here are 10 of my favorite games for preschoolers. Some of these games the kids in my preschool classroom enjoyed playing, some my own kids play, and some I have received for review in the past years.

 Memory 

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Elefun Snackin’ Safari

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Candy Land

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Garanimals Paw Print Game

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Fruitominoes

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Raccoon Rumpus

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Don’t Break The Ice

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Go Fish

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Cluck N’ Chuck

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The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

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Here are more favorite games and puzzles from other bloggers:

Our Favorite Games & Puzzles {Top Ten Holiday Lists} from Something 2 Offer

Top 10 Games & Puzzles for 2-3 Year Olds from Stir the Wonder

Top 10 Lists: Puzzles for under 3 year olds from Powerful Mothering

Games Recommendations for Brainy Kids from Afterschool for Smarty Paints

Top 10 Games and Puzzles on Our Shelf from Creative World of Varya

Top 10 Board Games and Puzzles for Preschoolers from P is for Preschooler

Top 10 Preschool Board Games from Little Bins for Little Hands

Top 10 Games for Preschoolers from Makeovers & Motherhood

Top 10 Books For Preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series over the next 6 weeks. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

This week we are talking books. Having taught preschool I have hundreds of preschool books and I’m sharing my favorites with you all! These are good for the older 4s.

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Here are favorite book lists from other bloggers:

Thaleia Maher from Something 2 Offer: Books for all Ages

 Nicolette Roux from Powerful Mothering: Books for under 3 year olds

Sarah McClelland from Little Bins for Little Hands: Picture Books

Emma Craig from P is for Preschooler: Books for Preschoolers

Samantha Soper-Caetano from Stir the Wonder: Books for Toddler Boys

 Natalie Figge from Afterschool for Smarty Pants: Books for Advanced Bookworms

Alisha Carlson from Makeovers & Motherhood: Holiday Books

Varya Sanina-Garmroud from Creative World of Varya: Books for Non-English Speakers

What are your favorite books for children? I’d love to check them out!

Our New Puppy Friend, Read With Me Scout

The boys have a new little puppy! Okay…so it’s not a real puppy. We received Read with Me Scout from Leapfrog to review and the boys are loving him.

Read with Me Scout from LeapFrog is an interactive plush toy that helps children develop reading comprehension skills to get them on a path to reading. Not only does puppy pal Scout make reading fun with five interactive stories that he reads aloud, but he also responds to every pet, pat, hug and kiss! Simply press a button on his collar to start reading and pat his head to turn the page. Scout will ask your child questions throughout each story to create engaging learning moments and help build comprehension skills. Scout loves to sing, too!  Switch into Sleepy Time Mode when it’s time to snuggle and listen to relaxing stories and eight minutes of lullabies.

It was interesting to see how both boys interacted with Scout. Jacob, who is five and just starting to sound out words, really enjoyed reading the books with Scout. He followed along while Scout read the words and he’d tap Scout’s head every time he was ready to go on to the next page.

Lucas played with Scout completely different than Jacob did. Lucas, my four year who has Autism, looked at the books for a few minutes but spent most of the time just cuddling with Scout and listening to his songs. Luke isn’t too fond of books at the moment but I’m hoping that as he gets older he will use Scout’s reading feature.

Overall, Read with Me Scout has been a hit in our home. We’ve had it for about 2 weeks and the boys have played with it numerous times so far. I like that Scout doesn’t just read the books but asks questions as well. This makes kids become an active participant in the story instead of just having the story read to them. I loved watching Jacob answer Scout and could tell that he was really thinking about everything he heard. I like that Scout is soft and cuddly and has different options for play so that kids of all abilities and ages can enjoy him.

Having owned a variety of Leapfrog products these past years I have to say that this is one of my favorites (second only to the LeapPad).

(Disclosure: We received a Read with Me Scout from Leapfrog to review.)

Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods

The boys love playing angry birds on our smartphone so they were excited to see that I got the Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods from Hasbro to review. This toy is unique because it lets kids play IRL {in real life} and also play a game virtually on their iPhone.

The boys first played without the phone. They stacked the “bricks” and then launched their Angry Birds’ vehicles into the towers.

After about 20 minutes they decided to play the Telepods game on their phone. The set comes with a Telepods base which teleported their characters directly into the Angry Birds Star Wars II app.

This is the first game and app that gives kids a chance to customize their line-up and it gives them a chance to fling the pigs, instead of the birds.

The boys loved playing this game together. They thought it was so neat that the Angry Bird they picked showed up on their screen. I see this toy bringing hours of play for both kids and would make a great Christmas gift for those that love Angry Birds and Star Wars.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a product to review. Thoughts are my own.)

Give With Purpose This Holiday Season {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet and earring set but all thoughts are my own.)

There is nothing better than a gift that gives back. I’m happy to be working with World Vision again this year to help promote their Gift Catalog. The World Vision Gift Catalog offers more than 250 items that help fight poverty and save lives here in US and around the world. With a financial contribution, donors can select one of the 30+ Handcrafted Gifts that can be shared with a loved one and at the same time help a person in need.

I received a Colors of Africa Bracelet & Earring Set to review. This gorgeous Zakale bracelet and earring set from Nairobi are made from recycled materials by Kenyan artisans. The people received a loan from World Vision to grow their business and lift themselves out of poverty. With a $100 donation people can get this set for free.

This colorful set would make the perfect gift for any woman or girl. I love how the beads really capture the light. Knowing the story behind the bracelet makes me even prouder to wear it.

Want to donate without receiving a gift? The Gift Catalog lets you choose how your donation is sent. Love playing soccer or have kids who do? Donate soccer balls to kids who would normally play with “soccer balls” made of banana leaves or rolled-up trash. Passionate about education? Give kids books and tools they need to be successful in school and help them fulfill their potential and even lift themselves out of poverty. Or maybe you just simply want to give a child food, water, or clothing to protect them from the freezing temperatures.

Want to go beyond yourself? I love these ideas that World Vision shared:

  • Organize a family giving night and have kids select charitable gifts from an organization such as the World Vision Gift Catalog. Talk with your children about how giving back changes lives of children and families living in poverty and that their efforts truly make a difference.
  • Host a house party for friends and family and ask your guests to contribute to a share of a group gift such as a farm animal, winter clothing or school supplies to families in need, or even a water well. Make the selection of the item, how to raise funds for that gift, and the collection of the money a collaborative, group effort.
  • After Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping, consider celebrating Giving Tuesday (12/3) and make meaningful, life-changing gift purchases such as medicine, mosquito nets or a fish pond.
  • Be active in your giving — volunteer at your local homeless shelter or senior living center; cook a meal or bake cookies for an elderly family member or neighbor.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a bracelet and earring set like the one mentioned above

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

 1) Leave a comment telling me what gift you’d give a child in need

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Comment on another one of my blog posts

Giveaway ends November 24, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must a a US resident and 18 or older to enter.

Raccoon Rumpus Preschool Game {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I received this game for review but all thoughts are my own.)

At our Halloween get-together this past Saturday my boys and their cousins played Raccoon Rumpus and had so much fun. This game is perfect for the Halloween season because in this game the raccoons wear costumes, too! The kids roll dice and then have to put costumes on their raccoons based on what article of clothing and color they see.

This game is for 2-4 players, ages Pre-K and up. Our group was between the ages of 4 and 6 and all of them were able to play on their own. The boys have been playing this game daily and even play some games solo. This game is sure to be a hit and keep the kids busy throughout the winter!

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a Raccoon Rumpus game

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who in your life would love playing this game

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends November 16, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be a US resident and age 18 or over to enter.

Play-Doh’s Holiday Craft Fun

(Disclosure: I received books from Play-Doh to review but thoughts are my own.)

My boys love playing with Play-Doh’s “Let’s Create” series books that we reviewed back in August so we were excited to learn about their new Holiday Craft Fun Series. Both books in this brand new series combine tactile, interactive play with learning to not only help children retain basic concepts taught at the preschool level but also to make the learning experience enlightening and entertaining by bringing in 15 inventive craft projects that tie in the spirit of Halloween and Christmas.

In PLAY-DOH: Halloween Craft Fun, Groovy Ghost invites kids to an evening of crafty creations. With the projects in this kit, children will help Groovy bring the Halloween party to life with the turn of every page and step-by-step guides to molding spooky PLAY-DOH sculpts. By the end of the book, children, from ages 3 and up, will know how to craft jack-o’-lanterns, ghosts, witches, spiders, candies, and other ghoulish goodies. Learning takes shape within the book and activities that combine reading, written and verbal directions, and hands-on projects. Complete with a book of instructions, four cans of PLAY-DOH compound, a roller, and a plastic knife, PLAY-DOH, Halloween Craft Fun is a thrilling adventure that invites youngsters to be bold and mold.

Lucas loved creating spooky figures with his daddy.It was a great way for Sinisa (who hates crafts) to do something creative and not too messy with the boys and he seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids did. I liked how the book gave step-by-step directions for those who can’t just look at a picture and copy what they see.

The other book is PLAY-DOH: Christmas Craft Fun which introduces young readers to Holiday Hound, who acts as their guide in this holiday crafting extravaganza. In no time at all, kids will be as equally enchanted by the Christmas-themed story that unfolds as they will by the snowmen, candy canes, bows, and drums that they will learn to make under Holiday Hound’s tutelage. This kit also comes with 4 cans of PLAY-DOH compound and two sculpting tools. Recommended for ages 3 and up, PLAY-DOH: Christmas Craft Fun is a great way to kick off the holiday season and it makes a great gift for school gift exchanges and a project to keep kids occupied during holiday parties and gatherings.

If you are looking for something to keep the kid’s busy as it gets colder outside these are perfect for indoor fun. They’d make great gifts, too!

Kohl’s Cares: Holiday Giving With The Peanuts Gang

(Disclosure: I am working with Kohl’s to promote their Kohl’s Cares program and received promotional items but all thoughts are my own.)

Kohl’s Department Stores is offering classic Peanuts storybooks, plush toys of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends and gifts, for just $5 each that will leave the entire family grinning from ear to ear this holiday season. Through the Kohl’s Cares program, 100 percent of the net profit from this collection supports children’s health and education initiatives nationwide. I love this program because it’s a great way for people to find gifts for those they love while giving back to the community at the same time.

Now through late December, Kohl’s offers exclusive hardcover editions of beloved Peanuts storybooks by renowned author Charles M. Schulz, along with coordinating plush toys. Kohl’s also offers a cookbook, holiday CD and a Peanuts Jigsaw Puzzle –perfect gifts guaranteed to spread holiday cheer this season.

Kohl’s Cares Cause Merchandise for Kids

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown plush: Join Charlie and Linus as they uncover the true meaning of Christmas through fun holiday traditions, including ice skating, participating in the school pageant and finding a Christmas tree.
  • You Can Be Anything and Snoopy plush: Children will dream big with Snoopy as they learn they can do anything or be anything – from an astronaut to a lawyer to just plain cool – as they grow up.
  • Be Yourself! and Woodstock plush: The whole Peanuts gang is gathered together to show children that being yourself is fun and everyone has different qualities that make them unique and special!
  • Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown and Snoopy plush: Follow Linus as he tries, with the help of his friends Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy, to part with his beloved blanket before his Grandma’s visit.
  • Peanuts Classic Gift Set: Experience two-times the holiday cheer and endless Christmas miracles with a book two-pack of Happiness is a Warm Puppy and Christmas is Together Time – great classic Peanuts stories.
  • ONLINE EXCLUSIVE – Linus plush and Lucy plush: Children will buddy up with Linus and Lucy plush toys as they celebrate the holiday season. Available exclusively at Kohls.com.
  • Peanuts Jigsaw Puzzle: Wrap up in a blanket, pour a cup of cocoa and get to work with the family assembling a jigsaw puzzle with artwork from the classic Peanuts storybooks. It is the perfect stocking stuffer or new family tradition this holiday season.

Kohl’s Cares Cause Merchandise for Grown-Ups

  • Holiday Cheer: Make sure the halls are decked and everyone is jolly this holiday season with the perfect book for holiday recipes, decorating, entertaining and gift ideas. The go-to holiday handbook this season is filled with tips and tricks from Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Country Living and makes the perfect hostess gift for holiday parties and festivities.
  • Upon the Winter Solstice: Trans-Siberian Orchestra CD: Delight in the holiday spirit with the sounds of this year’s CD from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Grab one for the car, the home and the office to spread the holiday cheer!

Gifts that promote literacy and give back to the community? These are a must for any gift list!

Tinkertoy: The Classic Toy We Love

This past Monday the boys had a day off from school so I pulled out the Tinkertoy set I got as swag from a party I went to at BlogHer this past summer. The boys were excited to play with this new toy and I was brought back to my childhood days. Did you know that Tinkertoy has been around since 1913?! I had no idea that it was created that long ago.

Tinkertoy has definitely changed since I last played with them. The pieces aren’t wooden anymore which I was originally bummed about but the plastic pieces seemed a bit larger and easier for my boys to handle. There were also new bendable pieces which gave the children more options when building.

The boys played with this toy for about an hour. They’d build things then take them apart and make something new. I loved watching them work together on their creations.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received Tinkertoys for free. I was not obligated to write about them but wanted to share because I think they’d make a great gift idea.)

Gift Giving With Lindt Chocolates

Every Christmas my children’s teachers get the same thing as gifts: chocolate! I figure that it’s a pretty safe gift because almost everyone loves it. One of my favorite chocolates are LINDOR truffles so I was really excited to get an assortment of them to review. They come in a variety of flavors and literally melt in your mouth.

Lindt’s special Holiday collection contains, among other items, two large gift bags filled with truffles. Each bag is ready to gift which is nice because you can save yourself some time since you don’t have to wrap it. I love the felt bag because the design and ribbon make the gift look like it cost a lot more than $25.

The bags feature some of Lindt’s top LINDOR truffle flavors including: Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, and Extra Dark Chocolate. My favorites are the White Chocolate Truffles and Peanut Butter Truffles.  They are so delicious!

Find all of the flavors on Lindt’s website. Which flavor is your favorite?

Animals Everywhere: A Pop-Up Adventure

My kids love pop-up books so as soon as we got Animals Everywhere: A Pop-Up Adventure to review they insisted on sitting down to read it.

This hardcover book features animals from the depths of the ocean to the heart of the jungle and kids can take a close-up look at more than 100 animals as they swim, slink, fly, run, and roam! Jonathan Woodward’s gorgeous cut-paper art, with four exploding pop-ups, thrillingly depicts the world’s most intriguing creatures, while Yvonne Deutch’s fun, poetic story takes young readers on an unforgettable journey.

The boys loved the shark pop-out the most because the shark’s jaw opened as the pages opened and you could see the fish in the shark’s mouth. The boys enjoyed asking me what each animal was if they didn’t know. This book is a great introduction to animals for preschoolers.

The book can be purchased here.

(Disclosure: As stated above I received a copy of this book for review but all thoughts are my own.)

Flashlight Friends Make The Dark Not So Spooky

Jacob is afraid of the dark. Every night we have to have the hallway light on because his nightlight doesn’t give off nearly enough light. We received a flashlight friend for review and, while both boys are loving it, Jacob is especially fond of it because their new stuffed friend has a light in his belly so Jacob has a great light for the dark.

Flashlight Friends are available in four styles: dragon, penguin, puppy and unicorn. I love that the Flashlight Friend is soft and huggable because many of the other light up things we own are hard inside and not something that the kids can sleep with. To turn the light on all the kids have to do is tap the tummy light twice. Another great feature is that the light shuts off automatically 10 minutes later so I won’t find the light still on when I go upstairs to check on the kids before I go to bed.

Flashlight Friends can be purchased online here.

(Disclosure: As stated above, we received a Flashlight Friend for review. All thoughts are my own.)

Count Me Healthy Bracelets {Giveaway}

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet to review and compensation. Thoughts are my own.)

I love items that do double duty and the beautiful Count Me Healthy bracelet by Chelsea Charles is no exception. This bracelet acts as a functional health tool that helps women track daily goals because the bangles feature movable beads that can be used as counting tools.

There are different designs but I received the Galaxy Tri-Color Bracelet. The bracelet has 14k gold, 18k rose gold and 925 sterling all in one gorgeous bangle with new wave patterned beads and retails for $98.

 

Women use the bracelets to count daily glasses of water, fruit and vegetable servings, pounds lost, whole foods, number of workouts, etc. I chose to use my bracelet to count how much water I am drinking since I’ve been drinking way too much caffeine. I like that I’m able to have the reminder on my wrist so that every time I look down I remember to drink more water.

The bracelet is easy to use. You start with all of the beads to the one side of the bracelet. The bracelet is adjustable so once you have it on you can tighten or loosen it. After you choose a health goal you just move the beads to the other side of the bracelet, one at a time, throughout the day as you work towards the goal. At the end of the day you have a visual of how you are progressing towards your goal.

I think this bracelet would make a great gift for someone. If you want to purchase one you can go to the Chelsea Charles Jewelry website and use the code ‘COUNTHEALTHY30’ at check out to receive 30% off.

Want to win one? Participating blogs are giving away one Count Me Healthy Galaxy Tri-Color bracelet with a silver cuff. You can enter in the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Giveaway disclosure: This giveaway is not hosted or sponsored by me, I am simply sharing the entry form. There will be one winner between all of the blogs, not one per site. Making Time For Mommy is not responsible for prize fulfillment.)

LeapPad2 Power Prize Pack Giveaway {$170 Value}

(Disclosure: I received products from LeapFrog and this giveaway is sponsored by them but all thoughts are my own.)

Yesterday I posted a video with some great tips on choosing educational toys. I learned a lot of valuable information, including more about how toys are developed at LeapFrog. You can find the video here.

I’m so excited that LeapFrog is letting me host a giveaway for you all! We have an old LeapPad and the kids love it! One of you will win a LeapPad2 Power, 2 games and $20 app card. The total value of this giveaway prize is $170. Wouldn’t this make a perfect Christmas gift!?

Here’s a little more about the LeapPad2 Power:

Create, learn and explore with the #1 kids’ learning tablet*—now with an easy, one-step recharger built just for the LeapPad2- a $40 value! You’ll never have to buy batteries again!

The LeapPad2™ Power learning tablet includes 9 apps, 4GB memory and loads of exciting features in a kid-tough tablet designed just for kids! Take pictures and videos with front-and-back cameras/video recorders. Play, draw and write on the 5″ touch screen with the included stylus. Tilt and shake for motion-based play, customize and care for a lovable pet, and create masterpieces in the Art Studio.

LeapPad2 Power works with LeapFrog’s library of 800+ educator-approved apps, games, eBooks, videos, music and more.** Learning games draw from 2,600 skills and select games auto-level, adapting to your child’s pace in subjects like reading, writing and mathematics. With 4GB of storage and an included rechargeable battery pack, the learning fun never ends!

Features
• Charge and go with a long-lasting rechargeable battery pack and AC adapter included. Get up to 9 hours of play time with each full charge!
• Create, learn and explore with the #1 kids’ learning tablet. Now with an included one-step recharger pack—you’ll never have to buy batteries again!
• Features front-and-back cameras/video recorders, eReader, music player, motion sensor, 5″ touch screen and 4GB memory.
• LeapPad2™ Power includes 9 apps (onboard and downloadable):  Photo Lab, Art Studio, Pet Pad, LeapFrog Learning Songs and more.
• Works with LeapFrog’s educator-approved library of over 800+ games, eBooks, videos and more.
• Compatible with LeapFrog Explorer™ cartridges and apps (sold separately) and LeapFrog LeapPad2™ accessories (sold separately).
• Ages 3-9 years
• Includes 1 year limited warranty

You can also connect to the LeapFrog Learning Path to see the details of your child’s play and learning, including levels achieved, skills practiced and recently played games. Celebrate accomplishments with online rewards, and gather ideas to support and expand the learning.

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me who you’d love to win this for

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right corner)

4) Comment on another one of my posts

5) Follow LeapFrog on Twitter

6) Follow me on Twitter

Giveaway ends November 1, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 18 or over and a US resident to enter.

Ann Taylor’s New Fragrance

Ann Taylor introduces their first new fragrance since 2008, The Ann Taylor Signature Fragrance. I was sent a sample bottle of it to review.

Inspired by the kaleidoscope of colors and chic beauty of Ann Taylor’s fashion, the fragrance was formulated with special attention to ingredients such as plum, dewdrops, and magnolia. The heart of the fragrance is reminiscent of jasmine and sandalwood leaves a lingering scent of vanilla, musk and floral green. Personally, I really love this scent. To me it smells like a bouquet of flowers with a hint of one of my favorite scents, Vanilla, mixed in as well. It’s definitely a classic scent that I think has staying power.

The bottle was designed with a clean, and modern silhouette showcasing the new Ann Taylor brand mark with a simple but pretty ribbon tie-off. Available this October in stores as well as online, The Ann Taylor Signature Fragrance will retail for $25 for the roller ball, $45 for 1.7 oz and $65 for 3.4 oz.