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!

 

 

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.

Build-A-Bear Opens in Lakeside Mall!

My girls were so excited to see the return of Build-A-Bear to Lakeside Mall in Metairie! The store opened it’s doors today with all new features and we were invited to shop and check out the fanfare. To save you searching the mall with overexcited little ones, the new store is in a different location and is now near JC Penney’s.

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Here are a few things you with notice about the new store:

  • A fresh new logo, store set-up and color palette
  • Updated storefront, featuring Build-A-Bear’s distinctive signature teddy bear silhouette
  • Bigger than ever (seven-feet tall!) Build-A-Bear stuffer prominently placed in the store’s center
  • New “Inspiration Wall” displaying different trends and fashions tied to pop culture

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The store is neatly organized and split up into four sections: Pick Me, Stuff Me, Dress Me, and Name Me. It is easy to follow the stations and the Staff engaged my girls through the entire process of picking and creating their new furry friend. While some may be sad to see the bear washing station has left, the store still does offer birthday parties and partners with food vendors right in the Mall for convenience.

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With two fashionistas, they were awestruck at the selection of outfits, shoes and accessories.  The finally decided (after much consideration) to pick a trendy outfit and a Halloween costume. Finally, naming their new friends and taking the all important picture were the icing on the cake.

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With the rainy weather headed to New Orleans on Halloween night, visiting the new Build-A-Bear may be the perfect alternative! Have fun!

Rockin’ the Rockboard Scooter

This post was written by contributing author, Lena. While a product was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

For the past year, my son has wanted an electric scooter. Several of the neighborhood kids have them and he is the only one on the block that still has to use his FOOT to push his scooter along. (Oh, the horror!) Yes, the electric scooters are expensive, but that isn’t the main reason I have been hesitant… it’s the lack of exercise that comes with riding the electric scooter. My son has always been on the heavier end of the growth chart, so his playtime needs to provide exercise too.

Then I heard about the Rockboard Scooter. Oh my goodness! Where has this thing been all my life? If a traditional kick scooter and a bicycle had a baby, it would be the Rockboard Scooter. It kind of looks like a scooter, only bigger, but it has a chain like a bicycle.

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The best part? It isn’t just for kids. When they say, “ages 8 and up”, they really mean it. The original Rockboard Scooter can handle a 200-pound rider and the Rockboard RBX can handle a 220-pound rider! There’s also a Mini Rockboard specially built for the younger crowd, ages 5 & up.

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I was a little worried when I opened the Original Rockboard Scooter because it was heavy. I checked their website and found out it weighs 20.8 pounds. My 10-year-old son, Carson, quickly eased my worries when he told me it is lighter than an electric scooter. Then, he picked it up and carried it down the three steps into our garage while I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

It was raining when we received the Rockboard, so I made him stay in the garage that day. Despite that, it took him about 5 minutes to master getting it to move by rocking his feet back and forth. The next day the rain was gone and he was zooming up and down our street and using the hand brake to slow his descent when some crazy woman (was that me??) yelled, “Slow down!” After about 15 minutes, he came inside to get a drink and he was soaked in sweat. After getting a drink, he went out to ride his Rockboard again. Exercise? Mission accomplished!

Since receiving the Rockboard, Carson has ridden it every chance he gets. He loves it and I love that he is getting so much exercise while having fun. Even better? He is no longer begging us for an electric scooter. In fact, here is Carson’s review of the Rockboard Scooter:

I really love the Rockboard Scooter because you don’t have to push like a push scooter and it goes really fast. It is really hard to break and easy to fold up smaller. It also gets you a good workout because you are pumping your legs over and over. Out of all of my scooters, the Rockboard is my favorite.

If you are looking for a great holiday gift, definitely consider the Rockboard Scooter.  The Original retails for $199.99 and the Mini for the younger crowd sells for $159.99. Happy Scooting!

Meet American Girl: Maryellen Larkin

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

One of my fondest memories as a child is playing dolls with my best friend for hours and hours on end. In an age of electronics, I am thrilled that my daughter loves engaging in pretend play with her friends as well and I could not be happier that the American Girl brand allows her to do just that and learn along the way.

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This Summer, American Girl introduced it’s fans to a new character that will expose kids to the 1950s pop culture, Maryellen Larkin. The 18-inch doll will feature cool new accessories including a TV console that works with an iPad, a jukebox that plays ’50’s style songs and my personal favorite, Maryellen’s hairstyling set. But what caught my daughter’s eye the most was the detail in her outfit. The monogrammed sweater and high pony tail tied with a teal ribbon were immediate hits (she was so excited she decided to make her own video).

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What is so great about American Girl dolls is that they are so much more than dolls. The authentic clothes, hairstyles and accessories creates an element of mystery and invokes curiosity from my daughter. She starts asking questions about Maryellen which opens up a dialogue about what life may have been like for a girl growing up in the 1950’s. And what’s even better is that the doll comes with a book to tell us just that! I love the quality time spent with my daughter as we read through a few pages each night.

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With the holidays just around the corner, my daughter has begun her list to Santa with the help of the American Girl Holiday Gift Guide we received in the mail last week. There is certainly no shortage items she has requested so I have a feeling this will be an American Girl kind of Christmas for us!

Bow-Tiger: Multi Purpose Toy Storage Bag

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

We are a house divided when it comes to LEGO. My husband grew up with them and to him they are as much of a part of childhood as cartoons and popsicles. I however don’t feel the same way. Over here in mom camp, I see a mess, more parts to lose and tiny pieces the baby can put in her mouth.

So the boxes upon boxes of LEGO toys that my mother in law has saved from when my husband was little have remained safely at her house…until last month. Now my husband’s inner child has been coming out to play with his old LEGO sets. He is having so much fun building with our five year old that I admit that I am enjoying watching them play together.

However since we have a eight month old baby, I have been strict about them playing with the tiny LEGO pieces in the playroom and only after the little one has gone to bed. Although the baby is little she is fast and could get a piece in her mouth before any of us noticed.

It was really ironic timing that Bow-Tiger reached out to offer me to review the Multi Purpose Toy Storage Bag. In the midst of LEGO invasion of our house, I was trying to figure out how to keep the clean-up process of all those tiny pieces to a minimum.

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Bow-Tiger describes it as a magic activity mat that becomes a bag instantly. Instead of wasting time on finding every little piece just pull the cord and you’re done. It does absolutely that.

It is a very large mat, I tried the 60” product that provides plenty play surface and easily pulls shut. It even has two shoulder straps that make it easy to carry around. My five year hold has worn it as a back pack when she wanted to bring the Bow Tiger bag with us when we went out of town.

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We use it as a LEGO storage bag but it also works well for dolls and all the tiny clothes and accessories. Because it is so easy to clean, it is great for the park or beach because it pulls together quickly. Just throw the beach toys on it and clean up is done!

I am a huge fan and we now use this product in our house almost nightly. This would make a great birthday gift and I know the mother would be thankful to get something like this among the oodles of toys at a birthday party.

You can find the Multi Purpose Toy Storage Bag on Amazon which is available in turquoise and bordeaux. Three sizes are available as well: 20 inch, 40 inch or 60 inch. Right now the 20 inch is on sale for less than $12 and has free shipping and the large one is around $35. That is more than a reasonable price not to have to pick up LEGOs every night!

To get your started, one Experimental Mommy reader will win a Bow-Tiger Multi Purpose Storage Bag right here! Enter below:
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Wrapping Up Our Scholastic #SummerReading

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Scholastic. All opinions remain 100% mine.

Well, it’s over.  The swimsuits have been stored and the bedtimes are getting earlier. The first school bell has officially rung and my two littles have entered a new year of learning. We took the summer to spend lots of quality time together as a family and learn about geography, culture and history through travel. Because both girls had to complete a summer reading list as part of a school requirement, I credit the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge for encouraging them to surpass the required reading and learn to truly enjoy it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 7.20.10 PMBecause the girls went above and beyond, I asked them to submit a “5-word book review” for each of 5 favorite summer reading books. Here they are in no particular order:

All of the time my girls spent reading was logged into the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge powered by Energizer in order to help achieve a World Record!  Did you know that kids across the Nation have read over 208 million minutes so far this Summer? What an accomplishment!

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Need more inspiration? Energizer® and Scholastic are partnering to create the “Power the Possibilities” campaign which gives moms the tools they need to unlock their child’s talents. Parents can buy any specially marked pack of Energizer® brand batteries to scratch for a chance to win one of thousands of prizes that will power discovery and learning during the Energizer Instant Win Game. Prizes include a family trip to New York City, a Scholastic Study Corner Makeover, a tablet with Scholastic apps, a library of Scholastic books and more!

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These prizes definitely will help avoid the Summer Brain Drain that parents dread. Plus, Scholastic also has some fun games such as the Innovation Machine Game which inspire fun and creative writing as well as videos from Maggie McGuire that will teach you how to make reading a priority for your child.

Don’t miss out on any tips or promotions by following @Scholastic on Twitter and liking the Energizer® Bunny on Facebook! What are you doing to prevent Summer Drain Brain?

Celebrating Dr. Seuss New Release with Carnival #SeussAtSea

If you follow this blog at all, it is no secret that my favorite family vacation is cruising Carnival. In fact, I spent my 40th birthday aboard the Carnival Dream which can only be described as magical (but heavenly works, too). Since we live in a Carnival port city, we jump at every chance we get to partner with the company and last weekend was no exception.

During our last cruise on the Dream, we took our kids to the Seuss at Sea brunch and were amazed at the attention to detail. Dr. Seuss himself would have been impressed. So, we were thrilled to hear that Carnival Cruise Line and its partner Dr. Seuss Enterprises recently teamed up with the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to celebrate the first release of a Dr. Seuss book in 25 years, “What Pet Should I Get?”

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We boarded the Carnival Dream and headed straight to the Encore Lounge to hear a special book reading by local celebrity and animal rescue supporter, Angela Hill. The kids were invited on stage to meet characters from beloved Dr. Seuss books including Thing 1 and Thing 2, to learn about how to care for a pet, and to meet some special puppies up for adoption. Following the reading, we were treated to the Seuss at Sea brunch which is absolutely spectacular.

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In conjunction with the event, Carnival is making a $10,000 donation to the Louisiana SPCA which is just another reason to love this company. While we didn’t leave with a new pet, it did open up the discussion at home about what type of pet would suit our family when the time comes. Dog? Cat? Fish? What kind of pet do you have?

Getting Closer to Our Scholastic #SummerReading Goal!

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Scholastic. All opinions remain 100% mine.

So, this is it. The very last week of summer. Can you hear the collective tears of my kids? Our summer has been full of fun and even a few learning opportunities so none of us are ready to see it go. But I am happy to report that my girls have kept up their reading skills through the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

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My oldest has become hooked on Harry Potter (yes, I know we are late to the game on this one) and I love watching her get excited about turning every page. Not to be outdone by her sister, my youngest is reading her very first chapter books and has read multiple Judy Moody books over the past few weeks….even on vacation! I am so proud that they both have made a significant contribution to breaking the world record for summer reading!

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If you want to get your child involved, there’s still time! Simply sign up for Scholastic’s “Power Up & Read” challenge powered by Energizer and start reading. It doesn’t matter if your child is reading independently or together with you, you can build momentum by joining in the #MondayMinutesGoal. Here’s how it works:

  • Each Monday, Scholastic will announce the #MondayMinutesGoal which is the goal for the number of minutes for kids to read together in one week.
  • Encourage your child to read alone or with you in order to contribute to the goal.
  • Have your child log their minutes in the Summer Reading Challenge website or on a piece of paper.
  • Take a picture of your child proudly displaying their minutes read.
  • Share the picture on social media using #MondayMinutesGoal and #SummerReading

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Need more inspiration? Parents can enter a weekly sweepstakes to win a “Power Up & Read Kit” to keep you “innovative” all summer long. The prize pack includes: Scholastic tote bag, water bottle, a copy of Reading Unbound by Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith, $10 gift certificate to Scholastic Store Online, Energizer® brand batteries, Scholastic books, and more. Learn more at the Energizer Instant Win website.  And to make sure you stay on track, make sure to check out Scholastic’s Resource page, too!

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 8.01.21 PMSince my girls have done such a great job with this program, I want another child to be just as successful. One of my lucky readers will win the Innovation Book prize pack below:

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  • The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field Trip
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  • Extreme Science Careers
  • Extreme Experiments
  • Plus Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge materials including reading logs, pledges, bookmarks, and more!

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Celebrating Summer Success with Scholastic #SummerReading

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Scholastic and Energizer. All opinions remain 100% mine.

I can hardly believe we have been out of school for one whole month now.  In the last thirty days, we have allowed the girls to have very little structure and enjoy the lazy days of Summer but to my surprise they have both continued their silent reading time before bed without any prompting from my husband and I.

Eventually, I will have to start them practicing Math skills but I love the fact that we are avoiding the summer slide with the help of the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.  Now in it’s 9th year, this free online program in partnership with ENERGIZER® is challenging kids to “Power Up & Read.”

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Since signing up for the program 30 days ago, my daughters have read 3 chapter books each and request to return to the library on a weekly basis. I think one of the reasons I have seen an increased enthusiasm for reading is because they are allowed to choose books that match their own interests rather than an assigned book for school. According to the Kids & Family Reading Report, 5th edition, 91% of kids (ages 6-17) say that their favorite books are the ones they pick out themselves. Of course, the fact that they can log their own minutes (online or via mobile) into the Scholastic website in order to help break last year’s world record of 304,749,861 minutes certainly helps, too! So far, kids around the country have logged 120,209,618 minutes of reading since the program begin on May 4th.

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Are you looking to avoid the summer slide, too? It’s not too late to sign up for the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge (did I mention it’s free?)! Not sure where to start? Parents can download free resources, including printables and book lists for kids of all ages. And the fun is not only for kids! Parents can enter weekly sweepstakes to win a “Power Up & Read Kit” and watch videos about summer reading activities to keep you “innovative” all summer long. The prize pack includes: Scholastic tote bag, water bottle, a copy of Reading Unbound by Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith, $10 gift certificate to Scholastic Store Online, Energizer® brand batteries, Scholastic books, and more. Learn more at the Energizer Instant Win website.

In addition to helping to break the record, kids can also enter monthly sweepstakes to win fabulous prizes, and earn digital rewards when they complete weekly reading challenges. A new feature this year is that kids can unlock 12 original short stories (exclusively for this year’s challenge) from favorite children’s authors and access never-before-seen videos from the authors!

So many reasons to join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge but the best one is that my kids ASKED to join again this year. Now that is a Summer Success!