Category Archives: Reviews

Olivia Toys Review

Team Mom sent us some Olivia toys. Are you familiar with Olivia? She is the adventurous pig famous for her books and now cartoon on Nick Jr. We are huge Olivia fans around this house. The kids think she is hilarious and most times I tend to agree. You can imagine how psyched they were when we were sent an Olivia 2-in-1 Transforming Playset and an Olivia 8″ Plush. Both toys are made by the great company, Spin Master.

Olivia inspires kids everywhere to think boldly and follow their dreams. Spin Master has taken Olivia’s bold personality and extraordinary imagination, and infused it into a collection of fun and creative toys for children age 4 and up.

The Olivia 2-in-1 Transforming Playset is a little like a dollhouse but one that you can open two different ways. The first is Olivia’s house and the second a pirate ship. The house comes with 23 accessories like a bed and a treasure chest but it also comes with a sticker sheet. You can basically decorate the house or ship with the stickers. Oh and the most important part… it comes with Olivia herself. The kids love this house because  they can act out fantasies. The one thing I didn’t like… there weren’t any other characters. It would be nice if they had included her brother Ian or her friend Julian. Since I have two kids they are constantly fighting over the one character. The other bothersome thing was that some of the accessories are small. The plates for the tables are tiny. I’m constantly finding them around the house. I think Spin Master put an appropriate age range on this toy. Not a good toy for younger than 4. Perfect for my two though (6 and 5) with the negatives out of the way it’s a fantastic toy. We give it 6 thumbs up. You can purchase the playset at Toys R Us, Target or Kmart. You can also find out more info at http://www.spinmaster.com.

The second toy was an 8″ Olivia plush doll. L claimed this as her own right away. Poor J. Don’t worry I’m making her share. Olivia is so darn cute dressed up in her artist outfit. On her cartoon she’ll tell you all about how she likes art and our own little L loves art as well. So this is perfect. Olivia comes dressed in her other favorite outfits like Opera Singer and a Cow. These can also be purchased at Toys R Us, Target and Kmart.

Overall I really think the Olivia toys are going to be a huge hit this Christmas. It’s never too early to start thinking Christmas, right?!?!

Advertisements
Tagged

Disney on Ice: Princess Classics

Last night I was extremely fortunate to be able to attend the Disney on Ice Princess Classics show. I took my daughter L and her two close friends J and Z. Plus their mommies. We had a great time. The girls got to meet Cinderella and we had a fantastic dinner, plus goodie bags. Everything was incredible. Special thanks to Feld Entertainment for treating us like royalty.

The 3 princesses we brought

L meeting Cinderella. She was so excited to tell her where we were headed in 8 days. Cinderella told her to give her a special wave.

The show was awesome. We were all really excited for the show to start and our seats were really great.

The 3 girls before the show. L is holding up the nice gifts we got from Feld.

J and J

A and Z

and me and L

The girls all squealed with delight as the lights went down and the show started. Each princess came out and talked about falling in love and being a princess through their stories and songs. Basically there were snippets from each princess story. I think they were most excited about Ariel. It was fun to watch the girls watch the show. Pretty soon they aren’t going to be into princesses much longer so I’ll eat this up as long as I can.

Here are a few pics from the show.

So because you came here today to read my blog…. Oh and if you live in STL…. I have an awesome discount for you today. Go to http://www.metrotix.com and enter the code MOM and you will receive $4 off any of the weekend shows (Friday night through Sunday) and just so you know there isn’t a bad seat in Chaifetz Arena. So hurry, buy those tickets because this is a show you don’t want your princess loving kids to miss. Thanks again Feld, SO MUCH FUN!!!

Right girls?!?! I think they had a BLAST.

Moon Dough Barnyard Play Set Review

Team mom sent us a Moon Dough play set recently to review. My kids were aching to open this set to see what it was all about. With school starting and life just being generally crazy. I kept having to put it off but FINALLY on Thursday we opened the set up and let loose.

Moon Dough is made by Spin Master and Spin Master toys never disappoint. The dough is hypo-allergenic and wheat-free. It never dries out so you can use it over and over. The Moon Dough is a very cool texture. The company refers to it as a marshallow type texture but I would refer to it as a circus peanut type texture. I thought it was kind of cool. I am not generally a fan of that other dough that you “play” with. In fact I rarely let them get it out, that’s more of a Daddy’s watching you toy. So I was hesitant but this stuff is really cool. If it falls on the floor it’s very easy to pick up. One complaint is that the dough we got with the set did not come in containers, we had to use ziploc bags when we were finished playing.

The way the barn works… you take dough stuff it in the top and turn the crank in the back. Out shoots a horse, cow, chicken/rooster and a sheep. There are also molds for a fence or a hay bale. and there is a mat that the farm can sit on. So it is a lot of fun. My kids didn’t tire of it, even after an hour. I really liked that the barn had an attachment to catch all the remnants. That was nice instead of having to pick up all these small pieces of dough. The product is geared towards the 2-4 age range. My kids are 6 and 5 and I’m 34, why am I telling you that??? We had some trouble figuring the whole thing out. It takes some practice to get the animals to appear down the chute looking like the animals. You have to turn the crank slowly and kids never do anything slowly. But with some practice it gets easier.

One other complaint I had was when I was going to clean up the barn and accessories there was a whole bunch of dough caught inside in between the wheel of animal forms and the wall. It was very difficult to get all of it out. But don’t let that deter you, this is still a great toy and my kids I know will play with it endlessly and I don’t mind that they do because it’s not messy.

There are other play sets: Moon Dough Pizza Shop, Magic Molding Doghouse and Moon Dough Burger Shop. Of course the Moon Dough comes in several colors (refill packs) like Blue, Green, White, Orange, Purple, Red, Pink and Yellow. The sets can be purchased at Walmart, e Toys, Toys “R” Us, Target, Kmart, AC Moore and Michaels.

Backyard Safari Outfitters Review

It’s HOT outside. I’m not kidding. HOT. 101 kind of hot. So we’ve been spending a lot of time in the pool this week. But last week it was pleasant outside. Pleasant enough to be out exploring and having fun. We were sent some fun exploring items from Backyard Safari Outfitters to play with. They have such a cool line of toys. These are toys that create imagination and quite frankly toys that I don’t mind playing with them. It gets them outside instead of sitting in front of the TV and the Wii.

We were sent the…

Cargo Vest (Ages 5& Up – Retails $19.99)

The Cargo Vest is a great item. You can fill it up with all of your outdoor gear. There are special pockets for binoculars and the field guide. All kind of stuff. There are also D-rings so you can clip other Safari toys like the Field Tools.

Mega View Periscope (Ages 5 & Up – Retails $24.99) – sidenote: on sale at ToysRUs for $11.98

The kids LOVED the periscope. It’s actually a perfect edition to our play fort in the backyard. It’s a little heavy for them to handle when it’s fully extended. But it does have super sturdy handles and it’s easy for the kids to handle when only extended twice. I like the latch on the periscope that keeps it closed and the best part which we have unfortunately yet to try you can submerse it in water to see underwater without having to get in. So cool. It’s a great product.

and the Bug Vacuum (Ages 5 & Up – Retails $19.99)

I gotta say that my favorite product is the bug vacuum. The kids like it too. But man this means that I can suck up all those gross spiders that seem to make it into our house without calling my hubby. I can suck them up and take the unit outside. Unscrew the cap and shake it back outside (where it belongs). My kids like how the middle section has a magnifying glass. They can see all kinds of bugs up close. So far we have seen plenty of lightning bugs. They get freaked out by the rest but we’re working on it. 🙂

Each of these toys comes with a fantastic pop-up field guide. The field guide is full of illustrations and information for every subject related to outdoor and nature exploration, such as Field Communication, the Solar System, Butterflies, Fossils and Beetles. The kids love all the pictures and it’s very easy to fold, I don’t really have to worry about them tearing it or asking me 1,000 times a day to fold it up.

I think that these toys are AWESOME. I really think that these are going to be our go to gifts for birthdays and such. You can’t go wrong with toys that encourage outdoor play, exploration and imagination. You can find all their toys at Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com and Target. Of course you can purchase them directly from the source and view more information at http://www.summitoy.com. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to Team Mom for the opportunity.

Shrek Forever After – Wii Review

We have a gamer. Our son is 4.5 and he is a HUGE gamer. I am not kidding. He would play Wii all day long if I would let him. Which I don’t. At least with the Wii he has to be up and moving around for most games. His favorite games are Mario and character games. Right now he is obsessed with the Shrek Forever After game. It’s made by Activision and they have a great site for the game here.

Mom Central sent me a copy to review and I knew my family would go nuts for this game. We are huge Shrek fans and we were excited to see the new movie. The game is a lot of fun and gave us a great sneak peek at the movie. My 4.5 year old needs help playing the game but my 6 year old can do most if not all the tasks.

The game is true to the movie and kind of fun to sit and play. We ended up spending a whole afternoon playing the game. There are a lot of rules and it can be confusing at first. For instance you have to use the directional controls to change the characters, it took a few turns to get used to it but by 10 minutes into the game you pretty much have the concept down. All of the characters have specific tasks that they can do, like Shrek moves the large objects, Donkey kicks items, Fiona lights fires and Puss climbs stuff. That’s why it’s important to get their controls down 😉 They work together to take down Rumpelstiltskin. You can work with your friends because it accepts up to 4 players. It’s not a violent game it’s actually perfect for any Shrek fan. Activision has made the game for other platforms. It’s available for DS, XBOX 360, PC, PS3 and of course Wii.

I highly recommend the game. You can purchase it at the usualy places… Walmart, Target, ToysRUs, GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Activision and received the items necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Asparagus and Noodles

It’s Friday and Friday is our eat out night and since we live in the city there are so many options to choose from. But one of our favorites is Noodles & Company. Yum!! We love Love LOVE Noodles & Company. It is so family friendly and the food is fantastic. In their own words; “Noodles & Company, a fast-casual restaurant chain with 240 locations, recognizes the importance of access to nutritious food served quickly and strives to provide customers with affordable meals prepared from fresh and healthy ingredients.” Another reason I love Noodles & Company… it’s not crap. I get so sick of filling my kids up with crappy fried foods. At least with Noodles it’s something nutritious. They have 14 fresh vegetables on their menu. That’s awesome. We usually pull up, walk in, order our food, we either stay or go (depends on our day) and it’s ready in 5 minutes or so. So quick for good food.

Mom Central recently gave me the opportunity to review Noodles & Company’s new pasta dish (um, yes please). They are celebrating Asparagus. It’s in season from April to June here in the US and I love asparagus it’s definitely my favorite vegetable. The dish is called, Asparagus and Lemon Linguine. It’s a fantastic dish. Very good, light and perfect for summer. Not only is it asparagus but also snap peas, mushrooms, red onions and feta cheese. It was really good I really can’t even tell you. You have to experience it for yourself.

I’m one of those people that usually goes into a restaurant and will order the same thing over, over and over. I’m not a try something new person. This blog tour forced me to try something new and it really was a great choice.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Noodles & Company and received five Noodles & Company bowl cards to facilitate my review. Mom Central also sent me a thank-you gift certificate.”

My new favorite accessory

If you know me you know that I hardly ever wear jewelry. In fact I usually just wear a watch, my wedding ring and a super small pair of hoop earrings. That’s it. I just recently have started buying myself more “accessories”. I purchased a large pair of hoop earrings, love them and then my friend from high school, Cori, sent me some of her bangle bracelets. They are fantastic. She is so talented and makes a ton of them. She sells them at craft fairs and a few stores around St. Louis BUT she also sells them on her website. Wanna see how cute they are? Of course you do.

Here is an example of the elastic bangle, in brown. Love. It goes with everything.

Here is a double. Very classy and dresses up all my outfits.

Here is a Mother-Daughter set. L loves hers. It fits her perfectly and she wears it all the time. I love that we have something matching to wear together. I love that they are extremely durable too, I don’t have to worry that L might break hers.

What’s really cool is the story behind her business. She started her craftiness when she was 17. She was a senior in high school and belonged to the choir and that choir had the opportunity to take a cruise to the Bahamas. She knew her parents would struggle with the cost of sending her so she started making items to sell at craft fairs. In 1994 she started making jewelry which led to eventually turning out these beautiful bracelets and anklets. In 2002 her company started using different materials and the elastic bangle was born. They are so unique and comfortable. They just seem to fit your wrist perfectly. I love them. Wanna read the rest, visit her website here.

Her prices are beyond amazing so I insist you check them out and buy at least 12 (then you get a discount) no worries the shipping is free. 😉 A great gift for the woman in your life. Especially with Mother’s Day right around the corner.

You can become a fan of hers on facebook here.

Wright on Time Book Series Review

I was recently sent two books to review from the Wright on Time series. The books follow a homeschooling family as they RV across all 50 states, I guess technically they are roadschooling. The family consists of Nadia, age 11; Aidan, age 7 and their parents, Stephanie and Harrison. I was sent Book 1 – Arizona and Book 2 – Utah.

In book 1 the Wright’s homeschooling RV adventure begins. They are off to explore a cave. In this story Nadia is excited to find gemstones and Aidan can’t wait to see and learn about bats. As you read the story you are right there along side them taking everything in. Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley does a fantastic job of describing things the characters see and the way they are feeling. On the second page there is a great description of the desert setting and when she described the warm breeze as relaxing I knew exactly what she meant. This book leaves you hanging. What is the mysterious thing that the Wright family discovers? Well you have to read the second book to find out, and read it I did.

In book 2 the Wright’s move onto Utah where Aidan can’t wait to uncover some dinosaur bones at an Allosaurus dinosaur dig. Nadia can’t wait to uncover clues that will decipher the symbols on the mysterious device.

These are great books. A couple things I loved about them were

  • The glossary of terms in the back
  • The more facts about the state page. Love that you can learn all these things about a state, like state neckware or state amphibian.
  • The map illustration at the beginning of the book

Things I wasn’t crazy about

  • When I was first contacted to review the books they informed me that they would be perfect for people with kids ages 5 to 12. Well L wasn’t all that interested so I ended up reading them by myself. So I think it’s a little over her head.
  • Calling the parents by their first names, it was a little confusing at times. Plus I think Mom and Dad would have been just fine.

I can really see how these books would be extremely helpful to homeschooling moms and dads. Heck I think they’ll be useful to L when she’s in first or second grade. Or even for a student that’s doing a report on one of our 50 states. I know I can’t wait to read the Missouri one. Learning more about our country is a good thing.

FYI Book 3 is coming out in 2010 and will be all about Wyoming.

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did, now I’m off to talk to JT about renting an RV for our own adventures 😉

K’Nex Sesame Street Building Sets

Last year I received our first K’Nex Sesame Street Building Set. I posted about our Ernie set a little over a year ago here and believe me, it was a great gift. My kids (ages 5 and 4) still play with that Ernie. When Team Mom sent me another Sesame Street set my kids were thrilled. This set is way cooler.

It’s basically a brownstone from Sesame Street. It’s actually called 123 Brownstone Building Set. It’s geared for ages 2 to 5, retails for $20.99 at Target, Walmart and ToysRUs. You can also find more info at their website. We opened the box and dumped out all the contents, in true L and J fashion (they are really good at making messes).

 

L and I unfolded the instructions and I sat back and let the kids figure it out. They had trouble with the windows and snapping those into the right places but otherwise they were able to do the whole thing by themselves.

 

 

They play with this set all the time. Of course taking it apart and putting it back together in different ways. J will leave the building in tact and play with it like an airplane. The possibilities are endless but if you need a little help there is on the backside of the instructions are activities to help with colors and following directions. These are great sets made by a great company. They would make fabulous gifts for those young kids in your life. Think about these sets when your out shopping on Black Friday.

K’Nex also has a video contest right now. You could win $1,000 worth of K’Nex Building Sets and be featured on the K’Nex website. How do you enter??? Make a video showcases your child’s K’Nex building skills. The videos must be at least 30 seconds but no longer than 3 minutes long and must include one or more of the following K’Nex products… K’Nex 400 piece tub or the K’Nex Sesame Street Building Sets. You can find the rest of the rules on www.KNEX.com the deadline is December 7th.

Exergen TemporalScanner Review

Thermometer I don’t know about you but when L or J has a fever I know it right away. Usually my lips applied to one of their foreheads alerts me to a fever. I’m not good enough to tell you the degree but I can tell you if it’s high or not. This is all great but it’s definitely not what the pediatrician is looking for when you call to say your child is sick. You don’t usually say “your forehead is warm when I touch my lips to it”. This is why there’s this great invention called a thermometer. Ever heard of it?! 😉 We have all of the different kind you can have. We have the mercury one, digital and of course the ear thermometer. The mercury and digital are only correct if it’s rectal or under their armpits because they are way too little for under the tongue. Have you in the middle of the night tried to undress your child so you can place it under their armpit? It’s a struggle.

Then there’s the ear thermometer. I thought it was the answer to my prayers, but it turns out it’s the worst on the market. You have to get it in there at the right angle or the reading is all wrong. So frustrating plus it can hurt your poor child. The dilemma’s of temperature reading, I swear. Something that should be relatively simple is confusing and painful. Well you can imagine when given the opportunity to review a Temporal Scanner I jumped at it. It’s exactly like the one they use in the doctor’s office.

The Exergen TemporalScanner is definitely a kinder, gentler and more exact thermometer. It’s so easy to use. It requires a 9 volt battery that is included in the packaging, once installed you are ready to go. You start by taking off the protective cap, place the thermometer’s probe flush on your child’s forehead (preferably in the middle), press and hold the scan button, slide to the left or right towards the hairline. Make sure you keep the probe flat and in contact with the skin the entire scan (2-3 seconds). I’ll be honest this takes some getting used to, usually after 5 scans you’ve got it down. I would practice a bit first but then also be sure you are more gentle because the first time I made L’s forehead red. But, seriously I wouldn’t lie, it’s easy.

So now that you know all about my experiences with the thermometer I’ll post some FAQ’s.

What is the Exergen TemporalScanner?

The Exergen TemporalScanner is the world’s first infrared thermometer designed to measure body temperature by taking a reading from the temporal artery. The patented technology employs an infrared sensor that accurately registers body temperature to within +0.2° F, a much more accurate means of taking a temperature than any other way including oral, rectal, axillary (under the arm) and tympanic (in the ear). It is also the least invasive method, depending upon a gentle sweep over a patient’s forehead.

What does the TemporalScanner measure?

The TemporalScanner captures naturally emitted heat from the skin over the temporal artery, taking 1,000 readings per second, and selecting the most accurate. With its patented Arterial Heat Balance system, the TemporalScanner measures ambient temperatures, mathematically replaces the small temperature loss from cooling at the skin, and displays an accurate arterial temperature.

What is arterial temperature?

Arterial temperature is the same temperature as the blood flowing from the heart. It is the best determinant of body temperature.

I’ve heard the thermometer is sensitive to ambient temperature. Is it?

Yes, it is sensitive to ambient temperature, which is part of the reason it is so accurate. But, as long as the thermometer is in approximately the same ambient temperature as the individual who temperature is being taken, you don’t have to be concerned.

What else should I know?

1. Measure only the side of the head that is exposed. Any covering hair, hat, etc. will prevent the heat from dissipating, and would cause the reading to be falsely high. This also applies if one side of the head is into a pillow.

2. Slide the thermometer in a reasonably straight line across the forehead, midway between the eyebrows and the upper hairline, and not down the side of the face. Midway on the forehead area, the temporal artery is less than 2 millimeters below the skin surface, but down the side of the face, it is much deeper and less accurately measured.

3. You have purchased the gentlest and most accurate method of temperature assessment in the world.

Where can I purchase a TemporalScanner?

They are available at Wal-Mart, Babies R Us, Walgreens, Toys R Us (I’ve seen them at Target). You can contact Exergen at 1-800-422-3006 or email medical@exergen.com for additional stores near you. Also check out their website http://www.exergen.com/medical/TAT/tatconsumerpage.htm

If any of you have any other questions about the thermometer or how it works please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.