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Crafting Fun with DohVinci and a Giveaway!

The Paint Bar Newbury StreetLast night the girls and I got our craft on at The Paint Bar on Newbury Street. But instead of painting, we got to try out DohVinci. Made by the makers of the classic Play-Doh modeling compound, DohVinci is a sophisticated and versatile crafting compound that’s more appealing to bigger kids who have aged out of the classic Play-Doh.

DohVinci Blogger EventThe girls and I spent the evening with other bloggers testing out the new product which was great fun. DohVinci is very different from Play-Doh. The kits come with a styler that you load with DohVinci cartridges which are filled with the colorful compounds that you use to embellish different craft projects. The DohVinci compound consistency is not the same as classic Play-Doh as it’s designed to flow out of the styler sort of like a glue gun.

DohVinciOne of the nice things about DohVinci is that it’s not complicated to use. I’m not particularly good at crafting, so I appreciated how easy it was to work with. The girls liked that they could easily control the styler and change the color cartridges. I appreciated that it wasn’t messy. The less I have to clean up after a craft, the better.

DohVinciDohVinci is a nice craft for older kids and tweens. It’s definitely more versatile than traditional Play-Doh and will certainly be appealing to the tween in your life. My girls were pretty smitten with it.

How would you like to win a package of DohVinci products for your favorite big kid? The folks from DohVinci are offering a prize package for one of my readers that consists of one DohVinci Vanity Design Kit and one Door Décor Kit. All you have to do to enter is comment on this post by leaving your first name, last initial and the state you are from. Entries must be received by Wednesday, September 17th 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

This post is not sponsored. DohVinci did provide kits for my children to use to facilitate the review. There are affiliate links in this post.

Blogger Bash ’14 and a Giveaway!

Kidz Vuz LeelaLast month the kids and I traveled down to New York City to take part in Blogger Bash ’14. A two day conference that focused on all things play related. Hosted by Charlene DeLoach and Joey Fortman, Blogger Bash was an action packed time of discovering fun new products for kids and learning about the brands behind the products.

Charlene Blogger BashPart conference and part playdate, Blogger Bash was a great way to learn about toys and baby products that will certainly be a huge hit this holiday season. It was fun to get a sneak peek of the newest toys and even more fun to give them a test drive before the season starts.

Let me show you some of the products we got to play with…

Sweet Suite '14Care Bears were popular in my day. How cool is it that they are also popular with my own kids? It’s hard to resist a Care Bear. Did you know that they have a Facebook page? I didn’t either. I wonder if there’s a Social Media Bear. Or maybe a Twitter Bear. I have an entire line I could suggest.

Sweet Suite Palace PetsMy girls were rather smitten with the Palace Pets. That’s probably because I refuse to get them their own dog. I have a lot to say about that. A whole blog post even. But let’s just leave it at that a robotic dog totally works for me right about now.

Minecraft SheepAre your kids into Minecraft? Check out this Minecraft sheep. How cute is that? My kids are totally into Minecraft and this sheep got tons of oooohs and ahhhs. You can bet this will be listed on one of my kids wish lists this holiday season.

Leela Playdoh KidzVuzWhile at Blogger Bash, we attended the KidzVuz Back to School Bash which showcased some amazing brands like Lands’ End , PlayDoh,  Speck and tons of other brands that were showcasing their back to school wares. We were so very impressed with the Lands’ End backpacks. Well made and super cute with tons of kid friendly styles.

If you haven’t heard of KidzVuz, you should really check it out. It’s a place where kid’s provide video reviews of all kinds of cool stuff like movies, books, food products, games, etc. A great way for kids to share their opinions on products they know best!

Guardians of the GalaxyBut Leela’s favorite product from the KidVuz Back to School Bash was the Guardians of The Galaxy Rocket Raccoon Mask. She had so much fun with that thing. Her big brother did too but there was no way that he was going to allow me to take a picture!

Blogger Bash Prize PackBlogger Bash was tremendous fun. Getting a jump start on learning about new toys for the holiday season is always a blast. But even better is that they sent me a big box of toys to share with my readers! Would you like to win a sampling of toys from Blogger Bash? I thought you might like that. This is what you need to do to enter…

To win all of the toys you see above plus even more, comment on this post with your first name, last initial and the state you are from. That’s it!  Entries must be received by Friday, August 15th 11:59pm ET.

This is not a sponsored post. The folks from Blogger Bash kindly sent toy samples. There are affiliate links in this post.

Rockboard Scooter Review and a Giveaway!

I’m a huge fan of toys that get my kids outdoors and moving their bodies. With so many high tech gadgets commanding their attention, I find that it’s getting harder and harder to convince the kids to play outside.

But recently we had the opportunity to test out the Rockboard Scooter. And let me tell you, it was a struggle to get them into the house when it was time for dinner!

My eight year old all the way up to my soon to be eighteen year old loved it. Most scooters are made for a narrow age range, but the Rockboard Scooter is made for kids eight years of age all the way up to a kid/adult that weighs 200lbs.

The thing that makes the Rockboard Scooter different from other scooters is the rocking propulsion. Kids motor around by rocking back and forth on the deck, which is not only fun, but a good workout too!

The scooter itself is well constructed and quite sturdy. I like that it has a hand brake. With the ability to reach ten miles per hour, that hand brake could come in handy.

Another nice feature is that the Rockboard Scooter has a kickstand, which eliminates the scooter being left on the ground. And it’s fully collapsible for storage.

While all four of my kids had no problem riding the scooter, I found that my littlest one had a difficult time with the rocking motion. But then again, she is tiny and doesn’t have a lot of body mass to work with.

My other three had no problems figuring it out and were zooming around in no time. With my eldest heading off to college next year, I think this scooter would be just perfect for him to zip around campus from class to class on. No fuels costs and some extra exercise. A good way to combat the freshmen fifteen!

My son Michael made a short video of all the kids zipping around on the scooter. Clearly, a good time was had by all!

How would you like to win your own Rockboard Scooter (ARV $200)? Thanks to the fine folks at Rockboard, I have one to give away!

To enter, leave your first name, last initial, the state you are from, and who you are planning on giving your Rockboard to.

Entries must be received by Monday, August 20th 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

Check out Rockboard for more information on where you can purchase a Rockboard Scooter and while you are there, be sure to check out their other innovative outdoor play products!

This is not a sponsored post. Rockboard provided a scooter for our review. All opinions are my own.

Hanna Andersson, Quality Clothing For Kids

 I’m not a huge label person. That said, I recognize quality when I see it. And when my kids were born, I fell in love with Hanna Andersson clothing for kids.

Made in Sweden of high quality knits and fabrics, Hannas are known for their durability. They are also known for unique patterns and mix and match ease.

Every Hanna I’ve ever owned has survived long after the girls have outgrown them. Shannon’s Hannas were given to Leela, who wore them until she grew out of them. And then I passed them down to friend’s kids who could use them. I bet they have been passed on even since. Quality lasts.

As wonderful as Hannas are, they are not inexpensive. But I daresay that you get so much more use out of them than other lines of children’s clothing.

Over the years I found Hannas on eBay and also at the outlet mall in Kittery Maine. It’s a hell of a hike for me, but I would do it once a year to stock up on tights, sweaters, and other items that I had lusted over in the catalog the previous season.

But recently a Hanna outlet opened close to my home. Oh, what a happy day that was. Now I’m able to scoop up bargains left and right. Actually, the prices are even cheaper than Walmart.

Yesterday I was able to stock up on Hanna swimsuits for $6 per piece. I’m not one who’s big on two piece suits for kids, but these are more like tankinis. This summer my girls developed terrible rashes due to the seams on their one piece suits, and I’ve found that the tankinis alleviate that problem.

Hanna swim suits are around $44 for two pieces, but I was able to stock up on suits for $12 per pair. That is a mighty fine price for a well made article of clothing.

Not only did I stock up on swim suits, but I also bought sundresses for next summer. Normally this type of dress runs around $42, but I paid $10. If you could only feel how butter soft the cotton is, you’d totally understand why this is so darn exciting.

This sale only runs through tomorrow, July 30th, but sales like this happen frequently at their outlet stores.

There are only six Hanna outlets in the country, but fret not. I’ve also found amazing deals at the regular Hanna stores and also online during their twice a year Hanna sales. Certainly something to watch for.

Do check to see if you have a Hanna store near you. And even if you have to drive a bit, it’s totally worth it!

How about you? Are you a Hanna Andersson fan? Do you have a Hanna outlet close to you?

This is not a sponsored post. Hanna Andersson doesn’t even know I exist. I paid for all of my Hannas. And I’d do it again.

Making School Lunches Easier

 The back to school sales have started. And while that’s a light at the end of the tunnel for many of us who have kids who are bored out of their skulls, it also means that we have to start thinking about back to school issues.

For our family that would mean getting the kids to cram those summer reading books into their last few weeks of vacation, battling over back to school clothing (man, those hems keep getting shorter), and getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour to prepare for their normal school year bedtime routines.

But the thing that strikes fear in my heart the most is the darn lunch box. On the last day of school last year I did a happy dance to celebrate no longer having to make school lunches. I plum ran out of inspiration.

Give me algebra equations, times table drills, and solar system projects any day of the week. Because I find packing that lunch bag infinitely more difficult.

You see, my husband, myself, and my two teen sons are carbivores. My daughters? They are the anti-carbs. No bread. No potatoes. No pasta. No fun. And while this will serve them well as they get older, it makes packing their lunch a real nightmare.

Whether or not your kids love carbs, packing an interesting, varied, and healthy school lunch is a trifecta that seems impossible when you are fumbling around incoherently at 6:00am.

Trust me, I know. I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. So making something interesting, healthy and appealing is a real challenge pre-dawn when all I want to do is either crawl back into bed or snuggle up to a hot cuppa joe.

But the kids have got to eat. And buying school lunch every day for four kids is just not an option for our family. So, I thought I’d share some ideas with you on how to make this whole lunch packing thing a little more tolerable.

  • On Sundays I prep individual portions of produce, cheese and meats, which I store in a small plastic basket in the fridge that no one is allowed to touch unless they are placing it in their lunch bag. Or else.
  • Also on Sundays, I hard boil eggs and pre-cook plain pasta (for my sons). The great thing about pre-cooking pasta is that my sons can have a cold pasta salad with veggies and a protein or hot pasta with sauce in their thermos. Cooked pasta keeps very well if you toss it in your freezer and also holds up well in your fridge for a few days.
  • In another basket I keep napkins, plastic utensils, and a baggie of change for milk money and other incidentals, which I store in my pantry. This eliminates the need to hunt for change in couch cushions, the bottom of my purse and the floor of my car. Been there. Done that. Not fun at 6:00am.
  • In this house lunch isn’t complete without dessert. So, yet another basket is filled with prepackaged treats like granola bars, cookies, trail mix, Teddy Grahams, and other sweet nothings. But the rule in this house is that there is no dessert unless the kids choose something from the produce selection. No exceptions.

What about the stuff that needs to stay hot or cold? I use the tried and true Thermos for all things hot. I’m partial to the Thermos brand because in all of my seventeen years of parenting, Thermos has been reliable.

For the cold stuff I really like Fit N Fresh. The set above I found at BJ’s Wholesale, but it’s also sold in most major retailers including Amazon.

I love that Fit N Fresh has snap on ice packs that keep the food cold for hours. The stuff is built to last. And if you can keep your kids from losing the pieces, it’s well worth the investment. Not that my kids have ever lost the pieces, ahem.

I think half of the battle with school lunches is organization. The tips I’ve shared with you in this post make my mornings go smoother and also make packing lunches less painful. And this is good because with four kids, I need to reserve as much mental energy as I can for those solar system projects. Even though they kicked Pluto out of the lineup, that’s still a lot of Styrofoam balls to paint!

What are your tips for packing school lunches? Do you struggle with this too?

How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular

When my husband went to Australia on business last year, he came home all excited about a live show he was certain the kids would love to see. It was called How To Train Your Dragon and it was generating huge buzz in the Australian press.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t playing in the states. But guess what? It is now!

The Academy-Award nominated film by DreamWorks has been fashioned into a larger than life show featuring twenty three handcrafted animatronic dragons, which represent twelve different dragon species.

A breathtaking production four years in the making, this show is meant to bring your child’s imagination to life. Fire breathing dragons, dragons that fly right over your head, amazing stuff. A sure fire hit for your favorite dragon lover.

The show kicks off on June 27th in Pennsylvania, but will be touring nationally. So, be sure to check out when How To Train Your Dragon is scheduled to come to a venue near you.

How would you like to get a 25% discount on the tickets? For performances on weekday nights (including Friday nights) during checkout enter the code MOM in the promo box on the online order form which says “MOM Bloggers Discount Offer”.

This way you can get great seats at a great price for an even greater show that your kids will just flip over!

For my Massachusetts readers, you’ll want to act on this pretty quickly. The Worcester show at the DCU Center is coming up on 7/11-7/15. And this is one show that I won’t be missing!

This is not a sponsored post. I did receive tickets to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.