Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Check out AvaStars! Create a Doll that looks like your Child! #AvaStars

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Make magic for your child with a doll/action figure in their own likeness! AvaStars is a unique store where your child can pick from a few characters to have a doll or action figure created that looks like them but fits the character they picked. I was asked to come check on one of these stores that just opened up in a mall not too far from here. It is such a unique opportunity that I could not pass it up. I wasn't sure if my four year old would really understand the concept, but he latched onto it immediately!

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I'll be honest, I was expecting a store like Build-A-Bear. It seemed like a similar concept to me with designing your own doll, but there's a photo booth for them to take pictures for the doll's creation. I was not surprised by the tv screen for the animated video also created from the pictures they take. They actually generate a preview of what your doll will look like and animate it according to the character your child picked out into a short video that you get to watch immediately. Below is a picture of one of the doll cases they had on display.

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Here's how it works:
1. You and your child find the person running the booth and get creating the character the doll will become. Your choices vary by gender and some characters can be either gender. Girls have the option of being a Pop Star, Princess, Fashionista, Cheerleader, Veterinarian , Fireman, Special Forces woman, Martial Artist, Ballerina, and Goth Girl. Boys can be a Fireman, Special forces man, Cool Rocker, Martial Artist, Skateboarder, and Goth Guy. After picking the character, you have to put in the matching information for your kid for hair color and eye color as well as payment/shipping information.

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2. Your child will step in the photo booth to have a few pictures taken from different angles so they can match facial characteristics on the doll and create your video! This is assisted by a person, thank goodness because my son needed several retakes since he didn't hold still very well. They will ensure that the photos they need are properly taken. In the pictures below, you'll notice a headband on my son. They try to get your hair out of your face because it helps to get your face shape better that way.

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3. Walk over to the television screen to watch your doll/action figure in action! My son picked the martial artist. The video shows what the doll will looks like. Then the doll started a martial arts battle! The video obviously will be based on the character your child picks. This was a super exciting moment for all of us. It was a little weird seeing a four year old's face on a full grown doll, but my son was very excited watching "himself" performing martial arts. The video is something you can access on their website later on and download to keep forever. Drake's video is below.

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4. Wait patiently for your doll to arrive in the mail! This has been a challenge for us. Our doll was delayed and I don't know why. I didn't tell my son that because after a week of it not in the mailbox (it takes two weeks typically), he stopped bugging me about when it would come. It's just easier to surprise him with the doll when it does come than to try to explain a delay to him.

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Find a store near you!

AvaStars has a couple of different locations and they are planning to expand to more over time. Right now you can find them in Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio (my location). Their exact address can be found here:

Follow AvaStars for updates on upcoming locations

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

#BookReview: Abigail and the Tropical Island Adventure by Tali Carmi #Talicarmi #tomoson

Abigail and the Tropical Island Adventure

Title: Abigail and the Tropical Island Adventure
Series: Bedtime Stories Children's Books for Early & Beginner Readers (Book 8)
Author: Tali Carmi
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; Lrg edition
Description: Want your kids to be familiar with exotic locations?

Want them to meet cultures and widen their horizons?
This is a wonderful book about a girl named Abigail, that goes on adventures around the world using her magical bicycle.

Who will she meet there? What will she discover?

This beginner reader’s eBook will inspire your kids to be open to new cultures, and be more curious and enthusiastic about exploring various places.

Your kids will enjoy full-color illustrations of Abigail and the tropical island.

Your kids will be inspired to be:
Open to new people & cultures
More curious
Enthusiastic about exploring new things
Abigail and the Tropical Island Adventure is a sweet children's book written especially for you and your ages 2- 8 children.

With simple text and 16 colorful illustrations.

The story is suitable as a read aloud book for preschoolers or a self-read book for beginner readers.

Review: This is a cute book that shows how a girl's imagination can take her far away. It's a rainy day and she imagines going some place that is warm all year round, i.e. some place tropical. She make a new friend on her island adventure and learns a few things about sea creatures, beaches, and culture. My son seemed to enjoy it, but he didn't really understand that Abigail was able to travel across the ocean with her magical bicycle. He understands magic and make believe, but after reading this he insisted on riding his bike and got upset when he didn't magically go somewhere. Then all he could talk about was getting his own magical bike for his birthday. He's four. He really liked learning about seashells and where pearls come from though. Overall a cute entertaining story for children.

My Rating (Out of 5): Rose Icon Rose Icon 2 Rose Icon 3 Rose Icon 4 Rose Icon 5

About the author, Tali Carmi:

Tali Carmi

Tali Carmi spent her childhood in a small town in the desert.
She memorized and knew by heart many books that her parents read to her when she was very little. She played with words and rhymes and wrote her first book of songs at the age of ten.
After many years of turning to other hobbies and maintaining a successful career, she now writes again for young children.
Tali is the CEO and founder of a software company and a business coach focused on the fast growth and success of small businesses.
She holds a B.Sc. in Food Science and Biotechnology, and she is a graduate of a Team Management and Leadership program.
Tali Carmi is happily married and a mom of three children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Purchase the book: - Kindle / Paperback
Barnes And Noble - Paperback

#ProductReview:Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Tray #GiveawayService

Star Kids

There was a time when I drove an hour and a half one way to visit all of my family. I did this twice a week when my son was born. He absolutely hated to ride in the car. He was great once we got where ever we were going, but the drive was absolute torture for everyone. He's four now and we don't drive as much, but it is still 30-40 minutes to get my parents' house. Now I have a one year old daughter who dislikes going for long car rides and reminds me of her dislike by throwing everything I give to her on the floor.

I decided that I wanted to try out the Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Tray. They gave me one to try out for my honest opinion. It is made of a soft, 100% Nylon. There are what appear to be nylon straps that you can put around your child (I don't really recommend that) or around car seat. It can be used with other things too like strollers or they even advertise airplane seats. There's a lip on the tray to help keep things from rolling off of it, a feature I was happy to test out, and mesh pouches that hang over the sides where your child (or you) can put toys, snacks, and drinks.

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I tried this tray out with both of my kids. The first time was with my daughter. She seemed to like it at first. It kept her bottle from rolling onto the floor and kept two stuffed animals within her reach as well. About 20 minutes into the drive, she pulled the tray to the side and rotated it until it was no longer in front of her. I don't know if I didn't have it tight enough around her to keep it in one spot or not. The second time I used it with her, she had food, toys and a drink on it. Nothing rolled onto the floor and she was happy to be able to use it for her food.

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The next time I used it with my four year old son. He thought it was great when I used it for my daughter and I expected him to really like it. He did like it at first. Then he wasn't crazy about it keeping him locked into his seat when normally he can unbuckle his seat belt to get out on his own. For the car ride, it was great for him. He loved shoving his toys in the pockets and putting his drink in it too since his cup holders were covered by the tray.

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My overall opinion is that this is a great travel accessory. It might be something that isn't appropriate for certain ages. I would say that it depends on your child so the only person that can decide if it will work for your child is you. It is durable and easy to clean. It really does keep things from falling on the floor, but it won't stop them from throwing things on the floor. It's very handy!

Purchase your own Star Kids Snck & Play Travel Tray On Amazon Here

About Star Kids

Alyson Probst, Founder
Her first grant just under her belt, Alyson Starr Probst, hopes to find time to bring her next idea to market. Juggling being a full time mom and starting up a company keeps this mother of two, Daniel (six & a half) and Matthew (four), quite busy. Had it not been for a suggestion from Natalie Tysdale, of WB2News, two days before the contest deadline, she wouldn’t have entered.

The original inspiration for the Snack & Play Travel Tray came from Daniel, then two and a half. She couldn’t find a safe, practical surface for him to use when he was in his car seat or stroller. She invented it before incorporating her company in June 2002. With the help of the SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation); her package designer, Mary Snyder; and Colorado Contract Cut & Sew—her Starr was born. She doesn’t do things half way, and that is why her first product, the Snack & Play Travel Tray has received high marks for child safety in actual tests.

It took her about 15 months to bring the idea from a thought and design to an actual prototype. In another 12 months, after refinements the product was launched. With five investors, the LLC is 95% women owned.

While one partner helped with her Business Plan, another, her sister Stacey, a Marketing Consultant, helped develop the Marketing Plan. It is now sold by retailers and e-tailers in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia.

Her strongest advocate—her father—passed away in January 2005, but she knows that he is helping her celebrate this award. It was Toni, her mom, teaching art classes to children when Alyson was little that sparked her creativity. Even though her dad was a pharmacist, he also authored books. It’s easy to see that numbers couldn’t keep her happy forever. Ask her how many other ideas she has, and she’ll modestly say three. Expect more.

Alyson graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey with a BA in Economics and Accounting, and passed her CPA in New York. A job offer from Vail Associates brought her to Colorado in September of 1994. After a move to Denver, she continued to work in financial positions until the birth of her children. She now resides in Stapleton with her two sons and three dogs. In her “spare time”, she tries to find time to hike, bike, snowshoe, read and run creative Lego camps.

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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Giveaway Service website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Reference ID: pmcc8b6a16d74a2462a1be02e79a57fb95

Monday, April 13, 2015

#ProductReview: HydroMate 25oz Water Bottle #tomoson #HydroMate4Life

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I have been trying different ways to make sure I get all the water I am supposed to drink for this pregnancy. I've tried flavoring with fruit and drinking it ice cold. Ice cold seems to be working the best for me so far. The downside to the cup I normally use is that I have to fill it with ice about three times a day. I cannot stand water even slightly warm, so constantly needing more ice is a little annoying. Also, my normal cup has a straw and I have to keep it up high so my toddler daughter doesn't get it. She loves to steal the stray, but that normally results in her dumping my water all over the place. When I was pregnant with her, I used a metal water bottle with a twist cap that my son couldn't remove. That water bottle has long been thrown away due to chipping paint, but it worked fantastic.

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ChillWarmer has a similar water bottle to what I used to use only there's no paint to chip off of it and ruin my drink. It also comes with two types of lids, a normal screw cap and a sports bottle cap that you can drink out of. I started off using it with the screw cap which will keep my kids from spilling my water, but at the same time I really want to be able to just drink my water without messing with the cap ll the time. So I tried the sports cap second. The sports cap comes with a piece to actually put a cap on the drinking portion to help prevent accidental spilling. I honestly don't like that part. I found that I couldn't screw on the lid as tight with that on and the result was that it leaked in my diaper bag.

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Once I removed the cap for the lid, I haven't had any problems with leaking. One really neat thing about this bottle is that my 15 month old daughter can actually drink from it. You can't really suck water out of it and expect to get a lot out. Instead you need to keep your lips on the edge of it and more water will come out. You'll hear the air being sucked in as you get your drink. Well my daughter can't be told to do that so she covers the whole thing with her mouth and air can't really get sucked into the bottle. This allows only a small amount of water to come out which is perfect for her. Now I don't have to worry about her getting a hold of my drink as much. She still left it on its side and caused some leaking but that's better than having 28 oz of water dumped on the floor.

Now I only tried it with ice water. I can't really stomach warm drinks at this time in the pregnancy. I was very happy to discover that the opening in the top of the bottle is big enough for ice to be put in it. If you have an ice maker in you freezer or make ice cubes, I think most of them will fit in this bottle. I filled it to the top with ice. What surprised me is that the ice didn't completely melt for about ten hours. The other surprising part is that the bottle doesn't sweat nor does it get extremely cold. It remains a temperature you can hold without freezing you hands. It's a FANTASTIC water bottle. I am extremely happy with it.

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About ChillWarmer

We are big dreamers in a small town near you. We are professionals. We are parents. We are undiscovered athletes and unsung heroes. We don’t strive to be giants within our industry, but leaders in quality and customer service, on a relentless quest to exceed your expectations. Because let’s be honest, we’re not doing anything new, we’re just trying to do it better and with you in mind. Our products are tailor made to fit comfortably in your life as well as your cupholder. We are family making good for your family. We are Chillwarmer.

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#ProductReview: Professional Pastry Blender #tomoson #doughblender

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I love to bake. I always have. When I was old enough to learn about cooking, one of the first things my mom taught me to make was pie crust. I would make it and she would fill the pies until I learned how to make my own pies that is. I was taught to mix pie crust with my hands. It is pretty messy, but you get your hands dirty making pies no matter what. Th biggest issue with using your hands is that you will get dough stuck to your hands that is wasted in the pie making process.

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At one point in time, my mom got a pastry blender which we attempted to use. Neither one of us felt that it did as good of a job as we had been previously doing and that pastry blender went away. Well when Orblue was looking for reviewers for their Professional Pastry Blender, I figured it was worth trying. My experience in the past being negative would be great for showing that this pastry blender actually works. They gave me one for my honest opinion, and I must say that I was very impressed. I made an apple pie today simply so I could use my new pastry blender.

I made your standard pie crust which involves cutting butter and crisco into a flour and salt mixture. The butter and crisco were room temperature which when mixing by hand would create a sticky, yet crumbly mixture. You want the crumbly part and less of the sticky because you add water later to turn it into actual dough. Using the pastry blender cut them into the flour with very little mess and created the crumbly mixture that I was looking for. It was extremely easy to use and worked absolutely fantastic! I was super surprised at how smooth the pie dough was. Normally it has buttery lumps, but not this time. Smooth, easy to roll pie crust was my result. I love it!

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About Orblue

The company Orblue was conceived and created in 2013, with the main purpose of supplying innovative products to solve old kitchen drawbacks.

Its first product, the Ice Ball Maker, has been very well accepted by the customers and it is considered a huge success between people who love old beverages. Now the company launched the Propresser Garlic Press, which promises to enchant its customers.

Orblue is dedicated not only to providing top quality products, but also to delivering high standard customer satisfaction through an active and close customer service.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Pregnant Again!

I've mentioned it in a couple of my reviews lately, but I feel the need to write a special post letting my readers know that I am pregnant again. This is going to be baby number three. We actually have an interesting thing happening with this baby. We have something called a vanishing twin. That means that we were going to have twins, but one didn't grow. We have one baby growing exactly like it should and a yolk sac that still shows up in the ultrasounds. I'm eleven weeks along now so it is highly unlikely that it will suddenly start growing, but as my doctor said, "Stranger things have happened." We will be having ultrasounds done fairly regularly to keep an eye on the vanishing twin to see if it will actually vanish and to make sure that I don't miscarry the other baby which can happen.

It's been a rough couple of weeks from the crazy morning sickness and worry. I'm considered "at risk" which just adds a little stress by itself. Hopefully everything will turn out ok. I'm due on Halloween which will make this year's trick-or-treating very interesting.

The number one reason I am writing all this is to say that my poor blog is probably going to get neglected. I struggle to make the time for it now with two kids and I'm afraid that adding a third is going to pretty much negate all free time. We will see though. Currently, I am going to slow down all product reviews and I haven't been doing much in terms of book reviews. I am going to fulfill all my current obligations, but you won't see quite as much from me seeing as I have been exhausted every day of this pregnancy so far. I hope you'll continue to follow my blog during this slow down and hopefully I will be able to pick things up again later on. Thanks!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#BookReview: Mini Myths about Midas and Medusa by Joan Holub & Leslie Patricelli #MDBookReviews

Brush Your Hair, Medusa

Title: Brush Your Hair, Medusa!
Series: Mini Myths Board Book
Author: Joan Holub
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Brdbk edition
Description: Medusa refuses to care for her hair, her long locks getting knottier and dirtier with each passing page. Her hair rebellion elicits frozen expressions of shock from her family, but nothing will convince Medusa to brush. Only her hairdresser approaches Medusa with bravery and a blade, successfully solving the problem . . . with a short haircut! All are pleased with this drastic yet adorable solution. Leslie Patricelli’s depictions of this physical comedy bring a lively visual narrative to Joan Holub’s expertly focused text. Includes a summary of the original Medusa’s Wild Hair myth at the end.

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Review: This was such a cute book. My daughter loved it. It has sparked a sudden interest in board books for her. I was able to read it, but mostly she likes to flip the pages and point at stuff. I tell her what it is she is pointing too and then she moves on to another page. I really liked how the story basically says that if a kid won't let you take care of their hair, you just might cut it all off. This is something that my mom and I both feel very strongly about. I have a niece that hates to brush her hair. If she were my daughter, I would chop it all off until she was willing to actually brush it. It seems like the most logical way to stop the agony of brushing out tangles. Wonderful book!

My Rating (Out of 5): Rose Icon Rose Icon 2 Rose Icon 3 Rose Icon 4 Rose Icon 5

Purchase the book: - Boardbook / Kindle
Barnes And Noble - Nook and Boardbook

Make a Wish, Midas!

Title: Make a Wish, Midas!
Series: Mini Myths Board Book
Author: Joan Holub
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; Brdbk edition
Description: Midas wants everything to be his favorite color—yellow! He chooses yellow clothes, eats yellow foods, and uses only the yellow paint at his easel. But when he impulsively paints his beloved green Dinoboo, Midas discovers that too much of a good thing is a big mess! Joan Holub’s carefully crafted text is brought to life by Leslie Patricelli’s famously humorous illustrations. Includes a summary of the original Midas’s Wish myth at the end.

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Review: This story was loved by both of my kids. I was only able to take pictures of my daughter looking at it, but my son had me read it to him three times in a row. This story is all about how much Midas loves the color yellow and how he wants everything to be yellow. Well he did until he painted his favorite Lovey yellow and realized that his stuffed animal just wasn't the same that way. Luckily, his mom is able to wash his stuffed animal to turn him from yellow back to green. My son loved this because his favorite color is orange. He is always asking me to make things orange. When I pointed out to him that some things are better left the way they are, he seemed to actually understand that. I haven't had to argue with him as much about things being orange lately. If I buy something new for him, he will ask me to buy an orange one, but we don't have to try to change its color. Another wonderful book!

My Rating (Out of 5): Rose Icon Rose Icon 2 Rose Icon 3 Rose Icon 4 Rose Icon 5

Purchase the book: - Boardbook / Kindle
Barnes And Noble - Nook and Boardbook

About the author, Joan Holub:

Joan Holub

Joan Holub’s fascination with mythology inspired Mini Myths, a new board book series that translates famous myths into situations familiar to preschoolers. The first two titles, Be Patient, Pandora! and Play Nice, Hercules! debut in September. Joan co-authors two other mythology series for Simon and Schuster, Goddess Girls (ages 8-12) and Heroes in Training (ages 7-10). Her picture book, Mighty Dads, was a New York Times bestseller in 2014.

About the illustrator, Leslie Patricelli: Leslie Patricelli is the bestselling author-illustrator of many adorable board books, including Yummy Yucky and Toot!

This book tour is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Reviews