Archives for 2015

Encourage Active Play with OgoDisk RAQ

This post is written by Lena of the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

It amazes me how different two children can be. My oldest son would be happy playing video games all the time as long as someone tossed food into his cage…room every now and then. My younger son, however, wants to be outside. He’s one of those kids who we have to force to come in when the streetlights come on. So, outdoor toys are a must for us. He has a bike, scooters, basketballs, soccer balls, water guns, etc. But there’s always room in the garage for more cool active toys. He was thrilled when the OgoSport OgoDisk RAQ arrived.

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The OgoDisk RAQ is basically a handheld trampoline. There are two OgoDisks, so it can be a two-player activity. You bounce a ball on the disk and volley it to the other player. As an added bonus, the ball included with the OgoDisk RAQ has ‘tails’ you can attach to make the ball move more slowly. This is a great feature for younger kids and for new players. But if you are looking for a more intense game, the handle on the disk gives you incredible control and power.

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My son loves playing with the OgoDisk RAQ! He and our neighbor’s kids played with it for a couple hours the first day. Then, when Carson was out of town with his Grandpa, the neighbor’s kids knocked on the door to ask if they could play with it. The OgoDisk RAQ has gotten used almost every day for weeks and it still looks practically new.

I think it will continue to be a favorite outside toy for a long time. Plus, I’m looking forward to trying it out in the pool next summer. If you are looking for an active toy for your child, check out the OgoDisk RAQ which retails for just $38.00!

Be Merry with Wyndham Extra Holidays

This is a sponsored post with Wyndham Resorts. However, all opinions are my own.

Shopping, baking, wrapping, cooking, decorating, cleaning, traveling, caroling and re-connecting with old friends. I love the holidays but they are anything but restful and relaxing. Once the holiday has passed and the gifts have been opened and put away, it would be nice to escape for a long weekend with my husband ring in the new year.

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Given that the budget has already been stretched thin due to a little too much shopping, justifying a getaway will take some work. Fortunately, Wyndham resorts is offering up to 35% off during their Extra Holidays promotion (you can stay for as low as $84/night).  Simply book no later than 1/4/16 using code HOL2015 for at least two nights and travel by 4/30/16 to take advantage of this special deal.

Still looking for the perfect gift for a spouse or loved one? Put a little magic in their stocking and treat them to a holiday getaway with Wyndham!

The fine print: Valid for new reservations only. Reservations subject to availability. Reservations not valid over holidays and special events. Cannot be combined with any other offer. All monetary amounts are noted in U.S. Dollars unless otherwise noted.

 

Tween Gift Idea: Acer Chromebook

My tween daughter’s Christmas wish list has taken a dramatic turn this year. Gone are the dolls, stuffed animals and dress up clothes which have quite suddenly been replaced with hair dryer, shoes, gift cards and of course, electronics. I have to admit that I was a bit sad but each new stage with my daughter brings some excitement, too.

As I sorted through the list trying to reconcile her wishes with my pocketbook, I kept going back to #1 on her list….a computer. I am unsure if she is responsible enough for such a big ticket item but now that she is in middle school, she has been assigned many projects and research papers where a computer would surely make life easier. Decisions, decisions.

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After doing some research of my own, I learned that Acer Chromebooks have been growing in popularity and have been increasingly rolled out in many K-12 schools. The affordability, popularity of Google apps for education, fast boot times, cloud-based storage, and built-in virus protection certainly makes the Chromebook R11 an interesting option so I was thrilled to be able to test it out.

Upon opening the box, I instantly knew my daughter would love it. The compact and light design (2.76 pounds) makes it perfect for her small desk space. Despite the size, the monitor features an 11.6-inch 360-degree display, so it can be used in 4 different modes including laptop, pad, display or tent. The versatility makes it perfect for homework but also for gaming and entertainment, too.

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After powering on, I was pleased to see how fast the Acer Chromebook booted up. The Intel Celeron quad-core processor provided for quite the snappy performance.  And the best part? The Chromebook R11 is available on Amazon for just $269 and you can have it before Christmas!

If you are still struggling for a practical and affordable gift with a serious WOW factor for your tween, definitely give the Acer Chromebook some serious consideration!

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review all opinions remain 100% mine.

12 Reasons that Netflix Makes a Great Gift this Holiday Season

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. As a member of the #StreamTeam, a subscription is provided to facilitate this review however all opinions remain 100% honest.

With Christmas just a few days away, hopefully you have made a list, checked it twice and decided who has been naughty or nice! Their is no doubt that there is at least one person on your list that stumps you. What do you give the person who has everything, right? How about months of entertainment at their fingertips with Netflix?

A Netflix subscription starts at just $7.99 a month and you don’t even have to stand in long holiday lines to get it! Not convinced? Here are 12 more reasons that Netflix is THE gift this season:

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12. You can watch anywhere — by the fire on the big screen or at the breakfast nook on a tablet.
11. With a wide variety of shows, Netflix provides entertainment for any age and any interest!
10. The kids can meet up with old friends in new ways, like racing to the edge with Hiccup and Toothless.
9. Mom can play White Christmas over and over again and encourage her daughters to reenact “Sisters” like Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
8. It’s so easy to set up, your five year old can help you do it.
7. Watching tiny dancers marvel at the classic holiday extravaganza with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes is what memories are made of.
6. Legos, Legos and more Legos.
5. Family movie time can happen any day of the week.
4. Learn all you need to know from the first family, aka The Croods.
3. Saturday morning cartoons, solved. (Especially if Inspector Gadget has anything to say about it.)
2. Date night with Frank and Claire.
1. With Netflix, the whole family wins: Mom gets Jessica Jones, Dad gets Narcos and the kids get Care Bears, Project Mc2, Fuller House and five more minutes before bedtime.

To get you started, I am doing a Flash Giveaway of a SIX MONTH Netflix subscription!  Simply comment on this post before 11:59pmCST tonight (12/17/15) to be eligible to win!

Get a Taste of the Holidays at Denny’s

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. As a member of #DennysDiners, I am compensated for my time and effort but all opinions remain 100% mine.

In typical New Orleans fashion, I believe we will have another “shorts and flip flops” kind of holiday. Definitely no white Christmas, roasting marshmallows by the fire, or Jack Frost nipping at our noses as the songs suggest for New Orleans residents this season. Because of the warm weather, I am having such a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit!

With two small kids, we are searching the City to find ways to inject some Christmas cheer into our holiday despite the fact we are selecting our tree in tank tops. Fortunately, we found exactly what we were looking for at Denny’s. With three new dishes and a few returning favorites, guests of all ages are sure to feel the holiday spirit at breakfast, lunch, dinner or any time in between.

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As soon as we walked in, my daughter spotted an advertisement for the new Rudolph Pancake Breakfast and told our server that she did not even need a menu because she was eating Rudolph. The dish includes two fluffy pancakes topped with turkey bacon antlers, whipped cream, chocolate eyes and nose, served with two eggs and crispy hash browns (I will admit that I secretly wanted to eat Rudolph, too).

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But after taking a look at all of the holiday offerings, I am a sucker for traditional turkey and stuffing so I knew I had to give it a try. This dish features the finest tender sliced turkey breast, savory stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, served with a choice of two sides and dinner bread….and was delish! While I was too stuffed to make room for dessert, I can’t wait to go back and try the Santa’s Milk & Cookies Shake made with creamy vanilla ice cream blended with tasty sugar cookies and topped with whipped cream and more cookie crumbles. Honestly, I think Santa would love if we left this for him on Christmas Eve.

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If you need a holiday pick-me-up, take the first sleigh to your local Denny’s and try out the new holiday offerings. This special menu is available through January 6, 2016.

Gift Idea for the Doll Lover: Guidecraft Table and Chairs

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

With Christmas just around the corner, I took my seven year old daughter to see Santa Claus.  Of course, she brought along her extensive wish list which she has kept closely guarded.  As I listened to her quietly tell Santa all of those items her little heart desires, there was a very obvious theme. The list went something like this:

  • Doll Bunk Beds
  • Doll Table and Chairs
  • Doll Dresser
  • Doll Clothes (fancy and pajamas)
  • Dolls

Oh yes, my girls loves her dolls. She lovingly cares for each one and puts them to bed every single night (in a shoe box).  But when Guidecraft offered to send her a Doll Table and Chairs, I knew she would be over the moon. From the website:

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Made of hardwood solids, our heirloom-quality Doll Furniture Collection is the perfect playtime ensemble. Designed for dolls up to 21″, each piece features classic styling and playful design features. The bed, cradle, buggy and bunk bed feature a poly-cotton three-piece bedding set: a soft pillow, bed lining and comforter. Available in white, natural and espresso finishes. Adult assembly required.

We have owned a few Guidecraft items and have been absolutely thrilled with the quality but this is the first doll furniture we have had the opportunity to test. I have to say that the company puts as much pride into their doll furniture as they do into the real furniture.

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Immediately when opening the box, you can smell that this is real wood. Yes, some assembly is required but the tool needed is included and assembling the entire set took me 10 minutes. Thankfully, I moved fast because my daughter already had her dolls dressed for tea and ready to be seated at her new doll “restaurant.”

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If you have a doll enthusiast on your Christmas gift list, make sure you check out the quality items from Guidecraft. You just cannot beat the quality at the best price! See more gifting ideas by following Guidecraft on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest!

 

 

Bedtime Negotiations Foiled with Netflix #5MoreMinutes

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, all opinions remain 100% honest.

My kids can be perfectly healthy all day long. Running, jumping, playing, and laughing every minute of the daylight hours. But when the sun goes down and bedtime looms, I have two suddenly very ill children.

  • I can’t go to sleep now because my head hurts!
  • Before I go to bed, I need cold water because my throat is killing me!
  • All of a sudden, I have massive stomach pains!
  • I can’t close my eyes because my eyelids hurt! (my personal favorite)

And there solution to these mysterious bedtime aches and pains? Staying up past bedtime. Apparently, watching just one more episode of their favorite TV program cures a multitude of ailments. Who knew? Thankfully, Netflix knows the struggle is real and invented what may be the most genius trick of the parental tool bag: Five Minute Favorites.

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Netflix and DreamWorks Animation launched Dinotrux 5 Minute Favorites, new episodes of the latest hit, all in a nice little 5-minute package — letting your little negotiator think they’re getting away with the age-old ‘just five more minutes’ ploy. In a mere 300-seconds, your kids will be speechless as they march themselves up to bed knowing they got exactly what they wanted….just 5 more minutes.

Do you have a bedtime negotiator on your hands? What tricks of the trade can you share?

Pampers Swaddlers Thank You Nurses

This review was made possible by iConnect and Pampers. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.

You’ve cared for your growing baby for around 40 weeks trying to enjoy the journey while worrying about every movement, heartbeat and ultrasound. But the excitement of seeing your baby’s face, holding baby’s hand, and kissing baby’s forehead all for the first time is almost overwhelming. Heading to the hospital to have my first baby, my excitement remained but my fears quickly took over.

I don’t know how to care for a baby! How do I change a diaper? Will breastfeeding be successful? How do I give baby a bath? What if baby gets sick? What if I don’t have any motherly instincts?

Fortunately, from the moment I arrived at the hospital, I was greeted with a team of nurses that could not have been more amazing. From getting me through a NINETEEN hour labor to teaching me to breastfeed my newborn, I learned so much in my first few hours of Motherhood from the nurses assigned to me.

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Soon after birth, my daughter unfortunately had to be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. As a new Mom, I was a mess but the nurses who tended to my daughter made sure I was informed of any and all changes, answered a multitude of questions and transported me from my recovery room to the NICU anytime I asked. And they did it all with love, compassion and a smile.

I cannot thank those nurses enough for everything they did to make Lily’s first few days on Earth beautiful and my days as a Mom more than special. Pampers Swaddlers recognizing all that these amazing nurses do to make life #BetterforBaby and has created a way for you to nominate that special nurse for a Thank You Nurses Award!

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From now through December 14th, you can nominate a nurse in one of three categories: Labor & Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Postpartum. Three finalists will be announced in March 2016 who will each be honored with a short documentary showcasing their unique  and inspirational nursing stories, a one year membership to the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), attendance at the 2016 AWHONN Convention and an array of Procter & Gamble products. In addition, three Pampers Swaddlers scholarships will be made available to help nurses from underrepresented groups complete their studies toward a Master of Science in Nursing degree.

Do you know a deserving nurse? Want to honor all that they did to give your baby the very best start? Nominate them for a Pampers Swaddlers Thank You Nurses Award here before December 14th!

Even better? Enter below to win a $100 AMEX card to honor a nurse in your own neighborhood plus a pack of Pampers Swaddlers!

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Top 6 Tips for Hosting a Fabulous but Inexpensive Thanksgiving

As Seen on Fox 8 New Orleans, November 23, 2015

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday is about three things: family, food and fun. While I love the holiday season, it is no secret that they can be rough on your pocketbook. To help you avoid “empty wallet syndrome”, I have compiled a list of my Top 5 ways to host a fabulous Thanksgiving without breaking the bank.

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1. Family

  • Make it Personal: Invite guests to the table by name with personalized place mats! I found burlap place mats at a local dollar store for just $1 and used fabric paint and stencils to make each guest feel welcome at the table.
  • Make it Interactive: A Gratitude Tree is a great way to get the conversation started during the Thanksgiving meal. Start with an empty vase and place twigs inside the vase to create a “tree” effect. Make leaves from construction paper and have each family member write something they are thankful for on the leaf before hanging it on the tree. This is a great way to make the kids feel involved!

2. Food

  • Don’t be afraid to go potluck! Use websites such as perfectpotluck.com to coordinate menu items to ensure nothing will be forgotten.
  • Ready to shop? Use the Flipp app to help you find the best deals! This circular shopping app makes hundreds of newspaper circulars mobile and at your fingertips to help you find a bargain on the supplies you need. Did I mention it’s free?
  • Consider making a dessert that goes a long way like a pumpkin spice trifle. For very few ingredients, you can make a dessert with a WOW factor that is not only tasty but will feed in excess of 24 people!

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3. Fun

  • After the food, head outside for a traditional game of football or try a competitive game of “turkey tag.” Color clothespins, add googly eyes and a construction paper beak and you are ready to go! Simply pin a turkey on the back of each player’s shirt. When someone yells “Gobble!” the players race to capture as many turkeys as possible. At the end of a preset time limit, the person with the most turkeys wins!

Holiday Gift Idea: Lil’ Monkey Dome Climber

This post was written by guest author, Linzy of Crawfish Tales. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa is getting ready to check the list twice and pack the sleigh! If you are like me you want to shop early or solely online to avoid the craziness that is about to happen at every store in the city. Not even running to the grocery is safe!

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I am struggling with what Santa is going to bring this year. I don’t want more “stuff” and it would be great if there is a gift both my daughters can enjoy.  I recently got the opportunity to test out the Lil’ Monkey Dome Climber and I think this might be the gift for several reasons.

  1. The elves won’t have to work overtime to get it set up! Putting it together is a snap and one person can do it after bedtime no problem. Plus there is a great assembly video on their website that can help guide you.
  2. It is an outdoor physical (non-electronic) activity. Total win for mom! So that means instead of being zombies in front of the TV they can be outside climbing on something instead of my furniture.
  3. It is designed for safety. Lil’ Monkey had the safety of your kids in mind when they created this product. The dimensions and height are designed for smaller kids which means it is lower to the ground and the bars are closer together. Plus it is made from sturdy plastic tubes instead of bars that are softer.
  4. This is not permanent. I don’t like the things that don’t move in the yard like a large play set or trampoline. I know we need to reclaim space in the backyard from time to time for a bounce house for birthday parties for example. So this is a great solution because it can be moved around the yard.
  5. You can buy this product in several places. I know people are passionate about Amazon and Target and you can find it in both places.
  6. Lastly, you are not just buying a playset. You are buying hours and days of fun. Because when the kids don’t have a playmate or are looking to take the set to another level, there is an app! The Lil’ Monkey Dome Climber app provides activity for your child through virtual fun!

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The climber is recommended for ages 3-6 with a height of 118 cm and a width of 170 but my nearly one year old can reach the bars and gets equally excited about it.

And, I haven’t tried this yet but I would bet that it would be equally as easy to set this up in an indoor playroom if it is cold or rainy outside. So if you are looking for something to add to the list for Santa, check out the Lil’ Monkey Dome Climber.

Santa Tip: I ordered mine from Amazon. It comes in a nondescript brown box so no one will know what it contains.