September 30, 2012

Cute Gift Alert - Green Toys Build A Bouquet

I don't always share the toys we wind up buying to bring to parties for Kayla's friends, but this one I have to because it's just so darn cute, falls under the no batteries category and is eco-friendly, so there you have it - lots of boxes ticked.

We're heading to a party in a couple of weeks for a sweet little 3 year old girl and we'll be bringing this Green Toys Build-a-Bouquet Floral Arrangement Playset

What I love about it is the myriad configurations your child can dream up with it.  You can stack the flowers in all different ways and it's a nice quiet creative toy.  See how the bottom base pieces fit together like a puzzle?  It's big enough in person to divide in half if you have 2 children playing together that might otherwise bicker while they work.

Add in little watering can and some tiny gardening gloves (I've found both before at Toys R Us or the Target dollar section) and you have a great little garden to get through the coming winter months.  Plus it's so cute that this is a toy I wouldn't mind having on display in Kayla's room!  Think you know someone this would be perfect for?  You can check it out right here: Green Toys Build-a-Bouquet Floral Arrangement Playset

September 29, 2012

Cinderella is Coming!! I know a little girl who is excited...

You've probably seen me mention that we are having a full on Disney Princess obsession in this house.   So when I heard that Cinderella was being re-released on Blu-Ray and DVD October 2nd I thought this might be the perfect time to let Kayla see her first princess movie.  Yes, she's never seen one before (insert unfit mother comment here) because I've been holding out for true character recognition.

Cinderella dress up costume and tiara from Walmart #DisneyPrinessWMT

We were just at one of her preschool friend's houses the other night and while the adults were eating dinner Kayla and her buddy were running around trying on princess dresses, tiaras and shoes.

Cinderella costume surprise from Walmart #DisneyPrincessWMT

While I tend to be one to indulge Kayla when there is a subject or character she is passionate about, I hadn't bought any princess dress-up clothes because the holidays and her birthday are quickly approaching.  But then I saw this pretty awesome looking Cinderella dress and matching tiara at Walmart the other day and that went out the window!

Cinderella display and Disney Princess Dress Up items at Walmart #DisneyPrincessWMT

I have a problem.  There, I said it.  You might be afflicted with the same sickness.  When I find something that makes my child incredibly happy (like these Disney Princess costumes) I have a hard time holding back.  So as I was raiding perusing the princess section I found so many cute things that I decided we had to have a princess playdate with some of Kayla's friends.

Cinderella toys from the the toy section at Walmart #DisneyPrincessWMT

There is a sweet group of little girls that go to her school and I happen to really like all of their parents.  So I figured this was a good excuse to let the girls play with a bunch of Disney Princess gear, eat a few treats, check out the Cinderella movie and let the parents catch up.

Cinderella Party favors and party supplies at Walmart #DisneyPrincessWMT

Generally speaking, I'm not much of an app person.  I can count of my fingers how many are on my iPhone with fingers left to spare.   However I downloaded the Royal Ball Augmented Reality app recently after hearing about it from one of my blogger friends.   Let me just say I was surprised by the downright adorable things your child can do with it.

For starters, it's free - which is always a good thing!  You and your child can piece together different princess outfits, take pictures in them and save them.  See this Belle outfit below?  Kayla picked that out all by herself.  If you have a princess lover on your hands, this is guaranteed to get some smiles.

Disney Princess  Royal Ball Augmented Reality App dress up #DisneyPrincessWMT

Speaking of smiles, this totally came in handy on one very grumpy morning while I was dropping Kayla off at preschool.  She was in a bad mood for no justifiable reason so I asked her if we should dress her up like a princess on my phone and of course she said yes.  I snapped this picture and as you can tell she was all smiles.

Using the Disney Princess Royal Ball Augmented Reality App to take pictures #DisneyPrincessWMT

Kayla doesn't know it yet because I have to keep some secrets, but we're heading to a special #DisneyPrincessWMT Cinderella event at Walmart on October 6th.  Kids are encouraged to dress like their favorite princess and of course the event is free.   There will be princess pumpkin decorating and bunch of other fun activities from 11-3 so check to see if your Walmart is on the list.

Cinderella Disney Princess Retailtainment Event Invitation at Walmart #DisneyPrincessWMT

We'll be at our local Walmart where Kayla will most definitely be dressed as Cinderella and decorating away!  Hope to see you there!

Just so you know, I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Disney Consumer Products, Inc. #CBias #SocialFabric as always, everything you see is my personal picky (and in this case Disney Princess crazy) opinion!

September 28, 2012

Is your husband set in his ways? Mine Is - Is Change Possible?

Does your husband have old clothes that he refuses to part with?  That just makes him a man I suppose.  Me?  I can't get rid of old worn-out stuff fast enough.  I'm speed dialing Goodwill while cleaning out the drawers.  My husband, not so much.

Not everyone knows this, but we've got a pretty big age gap.  He's about a decade older than me and I think many years of being a single man have left him  allergic to change set in his ways.  Now don't get me wrong, he IS actually a pretty stylish guy on the outside but there are 2 things about the way he dresses that just kill me.

My Husband's plaid boxers and tube socks that really need an upgrade  #MaLoUnderwear

1) Despite his fairly stylish ways and affinity for Hugo Boss shirts he refuses to part with these awful baggy plaid boxers.  I mean seriously?   These boxers are what I envision a 70 year old man wearing with his tube socks out in the yard to retrieve the newspaper.

2) You know the tube socks I mentioned?  He likes those too.  Sigh.

I've tried to encourage him to get with the times and get rid of these plaid monstrosities before with little to no success.  I've even gone as far as full on vandalism and cut giant holes in the back of his most hideous pairs to render them unwearable. (bad wife!)

I cut a giant hole in these boxers to make him get rid of them  #MaLoUnderwear

It's actually kind of a funny story. One night when I had forgotten about my prank where I slipped the holey pairs back in his drawer several pairs down, he came into our home office and with a truly concerned look said " I think we have moths." He then showed me the 12" hole in the back of the boxers.  Dang! Those would have had to be rhinoceros sized moths!  I admitted my guilt and we both had a good laugh.  He's an awesome sport as evidenced by him pinky swearing not to divorce me even though I am writing this.

MaLo men's underwear display at Kmart #MaLoUnderwear

A good friend recently told me about the new Mario Lopez underwear line MaLo.  Yes, that is Mario Lopez, AKA A.C. Slater, AKA cute dimpled guy from E! So I decided what better time to experiment with getting my husband to upgrade his choices in undergarments without having to shell out the big bucks for a brand like Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren in case SeƱor Stubborn refused.

Mario Lopez MaLo Underwear funny packaging from Kmart #MaLoUnderwear

It turned out that MaLo was available at Kmart near me so I headed there to see what it was all about and figure out if it was a viable replacement for the old man underwear.  First I saw briefs  and some brightly colored boxer briefs and got a bit freaked out.  There was no way he'd go for that!  But then I found a neutral colored pack of boxer briefs and grabbed those.

MaLo men's underwear boxer briefs 3 pack from Kmart #MaLoUnderwear

I'm not gonna lie when I opened the pack my first observation was that they seemed more "Euro" than I expected.  By that I mean  the leg area was pretty short making them seem almost like what a boy short would be in women's underwear.

Much to my surprise he was a more willing participant in this move toward change than I ever anticipated.  He picked them up, examined them carefully and said they were very soft and liked the clean look of them. Then he decided to try them on.  He did and came out looking kind of sheepish.  My worry about the short leg area was right and it was definitely a tough conversion from baggy old man boxers.

MaLo Underwear neutral color boxer briefs from Kmart #MaLoUnderwear

I had a moment of guilt and told him that clearly he was not ready for these!  Baby steps I guess.  If your husband is a little more "evolved" in the underwear department than mine is he will probably love these.  I'm going to need to find something that's more of a middle ground for now, but at least I now know that change is possible for this guy!  Now I need to work on the tube sock situation...

What's going to happen to the #MaLoUnderwear in our house?  Well I've already taken them to add to my pajama drawer.  Quite frankly they are the softest, comfiest pajama shorts I've ever found for less than $5 pair.  So I have to ask - Mario, when will you come out with some stylish boxers or more traditional boxer briefs?  Then I'm pretty sure you'd have a customer for know, besides me.

Just so you know I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and MaLo #CBias #SocialFabric but as always everything you see here is my own picky opinion

September 26, 2012

Got an Avengers fan on your hands? Don't Miss This!

Did you know that the Blu-Ray and DVD release for The Avengers is this week?  I didn't get to see it in the theatre because Kayla is a little too young for it and it's rare that we spend a date night at the movies.   By the time you add in the cost of a babysitter you're looking at a $100+ evening so we usually wait for the Blu-Ray release.  Total laggards, I know.

Avengers Blu-Ray/DVD Graphic Novel Combo Pack exclusive from Walmart, #MarvelAvengersWMT

What is Kayla old enough to do?  Run around like crazy with her bestie who is a 5 year old boy and addicted to super heroes.  They go to the same school, hang out together every weekend and can often be found chasing each other around clad as a multitude of different Marvel characters from Iron Man to Spider Man to my favorite The Hulk so I knew she would still be excited to have an Avengers night at our house.

Avengers Blu-Ray/DVD Graphic Novel Combo Pack exclusive from Walmart #MarvelAvengersWMT

The last couple of months have been very hectic around here so when I heard that The Avengers was being released and that Walmart was going to offer it with a bonus limited edition graphic novel I decided I would treat my husband and I to a laid back, very un-fancy and relaxing date-night-in.   I figured we'd then give the movie and the graphic novel to Kayla's buddy to pass on the enjoyment so he and his dad could have a movie night too.  Plus I know he will LOVE the graphic Novel.  A couple of neat scenes from it are above.

I decided to take Kayla with me to pick up The Avengers and we actually had a lot of fun because as it turned out there was this neat Avengers app I could download for free that had different features you could trigger by stopping at different areas throughout the store.  When I'm shopping with Kayla, anything I can do to create entertainment is welcomed so I took full advantage of it.

Avengers Augmented Reality App for iPhone #MarvelAvengersWMT

We were able to activate the Avengers app by scanning the Blu-Ray/DVD & Graphic Novel Combo Pack.  I still have no idea how this technology works but I can say it's uh-mazing!

Activating the Avengers Augmented Reality App from Walmart with the Blu-Ray DVD Graphic Novel Combo Pack #MarvelAvengersWMT

There was quite the selection of Avengers merchandise in the store.  My personal favorite were these giant Hulk Smash Fists. I also have to admit that the jokester part of me was temped to buy one these Avengers muscle costumes, probably Thor to wear for Halloween.  Ridiculous - but probably pretty funny!  If you want, you can take a look at all the neat Avengers things we saw.

Avengers Toy and Halloween Costume merchandise at Walmart #MarvelAvengersWMT

There were a bunch of different locations around the store that had trigger points to allow you to do different things with the Augmented Reality app like in the electronics department, the costume section, the toy section etc.

This is one of those moments where the Avengers app was very cool.  I think any school age kid would flip over this.  Here I am  grabbing those Hulk Smash Fists with some scary green virtual Hulk hands.  Kayla was confused at first and then begged for her turn.

Using the Avengers Augmented Reality App at Walmart #MarvelAvengersWMT

In keeping with my laid back theme I decided I would not be cooking dinner.  Instead I picked up an Avengers Pizza.  We went with the Captain America Pepperoni and I promised Kayla I would take off the pepperoni on half of the pie.  A pizza delivered near us runs about $25, no joke.  I was shocked when I saw that these Marketside pizzas were $8-$10 and massive.

Avengers, Marketside Pizza, Walmart, Augmented Reality, #MarvelAvengersWMT

As soon as we got home I just popped it in the oven while I sat down to color with Kayla.  Walmart doesn't mess around.  I was not kidding when I said the pizza was massive.  It barely fit in my full size oven!

Giant Avengers Marketside Pizza from Walmart #MarvelAvengersWMT

Since I try to find easy but creative things for Kayla to do I decided I'd turn some  heavy weight paper plates I had leftover from a BBQ into Captain America Shields.   All I did was download a star outline off the web, print it and use sharpie to trace it so it would bleed through a bit to give me an pattern to follow.  After that I just grabbed 2 different sized bowls from the kitchen and and traced them  for the rings.  If you have a child that would appreciate an Avengers mask to color (and what child wouldn't) you can download some awesome #MarvelAvengersWMT templates from

DIY Captain America Shield craft using paper plates #MarvelAvengersWMT

Since I'm relentless in my efforts to push vegetables I made another ridiculously easy yet Avengers themed creation.   All I did was slice up some cucumbers and use a little star shaped cookie cutter on baby carrots to make these little veggie shields.  They were well received by Kayla!..

Veggie Avengers Shields from Cucumbers and Carrots #MarvelAvengersWMT

First we colored the Captain America shields.  Halfway through Kayla decided she liked mine better and took it to finish coloring...that's my child!  These were probably not what Marvel had in mind but they were colorful and cute in the end.

Coloring our Captain America shields before dinner #MarvelAvengersWMT

And before we could finish coloring Kayla declared that hunger had struck and I was glad I had my veggie shields ready.  Naturally she had to pick the stars off each one and eat them separately.  3 year olds...

Coloring our Captain America shields before dinner #MarvelAvengersWMT

We had gotten so into coloring and checking out the graphic novel that I almost forgot about the pizza and luckily I reached the oven just as it was starting to brown.  It looked yummy and there was silence at the table for a few minutes so Kayla must have agreed.

MarketSide Avengers Pizza for dinner #MarvelAvengersWMT

After that it was time to get pajamas on, brush teeth and say goodnight 3 different times before Kayla went to sleep so we could relax and watch The Avengers.

Then it was movie time!  I don't want to do any spoiling of the movie for those who haven't seen it yet, but I will say it had some awesome action scenes.  The graphics and special effects were pretty incredible too!  I can't wait to give this combo pack to Kayla's little buddy.  He is going to LOVE it!!

Avengers Blu-Ray action scenes #MarvelAvengersWMT

Are you a San Diego local?  Then you'll be excited to know that The Avengers characters will be making a special appearance at the Walmart on Shawline Street, Store # 5338 this Saturday 9/29 from 3-6pm.  Have fun!

Just so you know, I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Marvel. #MarvelAvengersWMT #CBias #SocialFabric but everything you see here is my own personal and picky opinion.

September 25, 2012

Picking Dad up at the Airport - Kind of Like Field Trip, right?

I'm realizing that half the battle of parenting is how you pitch things.  A little while back my husband was flying home from a "work event" in Las Vegas.   Normally I'd consider picking him up from the airport to be just another chore requiring me to confine a rambunctious Kayla to her car seat.  But while she was at school I reconsidered the scenario and decided that I would turn it into a "field trip to the airport" since so much of dealing with kids and chores is how you pitch it.

I didn't tell Kayla we were going until I picked her up from school.  I packed a bag with some kiddie essentials like snacks, story cards, some little animals and a homemade "airplane spotter" which is a fancy name for a brightly colored toilet paper tube made very official with a Sharpie.

I just used an old gift bag leftover from a Target dollar section 2-pack and put a little construction paper label on it letting Kayla know that this was official stuff in this "Airport field trip" bag.

We parked and Kayla was immediately amused by the Smartecarte dispenser.  Yup, the things that kids find entertaining never ceases to amuse me.

Watching the taxi line from the skybridge - also very exciting....less so for me!

Then we saw a plane landing so she got out the official airplane spotter AKA the toilet paper tube...that killed another 5 minutes easily.

We sat down near the area where I knew the arriving flight would let out, right before the security check and started playing with the story cards.  There were 2 pilots next to us and they were chuckling at her little bag of fun.

And then finally Daddy came through and the two were reunited.  He was only gone for a couple of days and I think some of the people in the waiting area thought my husband must have been coming home from a military deployment because I was taking pictures and Kayla was super excited, but oh well.  I guess we were "those people" yet again.   At least my child had fun and was kept busy the whole time!

And of course Kayla had to show her daddy how she flies like a butterfly with her new wings.  Remember those wings?  We're getting a lot of use out of them!

That's it.  This was a good exercise in me remembering that almost anything dealing with kids is what you make of it.  If I had been grumpy and stressed and treated this like just another thing we had to do, I bet Kayla's mood would have echoed that.  But instead it was like a choose your own adventure book and she loved every minute of it.  

September 23, 2012

Chemical Free Toy Cleaning? Yes, Please!

I'm fairly certain that my mother will love me slightly less after reading this, but one clear childhood memory of mine is the sound and smell of Lysol constantly being sprayed in our home.  I'm one of four children and whenever one of us was sick (which was all the time) you could hear her spraying all the phones and doorknobs in the house with Lysol.   You could pick up a phone a day later and it still reeked of that hospital antiseptic chemical smell and burned your nose as you breathed it in.

#HeinzVinegar, cleaning toys chemical free

In her defense and because I would like to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner this year, it was the 80's and most people just didn't know any better.  Today, the thought of spraying stuff like that in my home is almost inconceivable.  Yes, times have definitely changed!  Especially if you're wise paranoid about the implications of exposing children to unnecessary toxins like I am.

A few years back, a friend introduced me to cleaning with vinegar and I'm surprised how many people don't know that it's a great safe, chemical-free alternative to traditional cleaning products that kills 99% of bacteria and is far more economical than purchasing the "green" products you find on the shelves in big box stores.

Heinz Cleaning Vinegar, chemical free cleaning, #HeinzVinegar

I have a homemade cleaner I make using Heinz Cleaning Vinegar that I actually prefer to one of the Method products, which are usually my default eco-friendly cleaning solutions.   What I like about using my own is that you know exactly what you are putting into that bottle that you are about to spray all over your child's toys.

What I didn't like about it and quickly learned to fix was the very identifiable odor of vinegar.  Lemon peels and rosemary are two great potent and clean smelling things you can use to neutralize the smell of the vinegar.  If you've got a little one at home and want your toys and play surfaces clean then I'll show you how I do it here.  

scented cleaning vinegar #HeinzVinegar, lemon and rosemary vinegar

I picked up the short list of essentials at Walmart like a new pretty spray bottle - NOT one that has been used with other cleaning products, some Heinz Cleaning Vinegar which is extra concentrated and especially for cleaning, baking soda and some re-usable cleaning rags.  

Shopping at walmart, Heinz Cleaning Vinegar, #HeinzVinegar

Back at home I called up my amazing next door neighbor who is like another mother to me and asked to raid her herb garden and lemon tree. Then I mixed up my solution using the Heinz cleaning vinegar. It's about 20% stronger than regular vinegar so you can either dilute it like I did with 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water for cleaning kids toys or use it full strength to tackle tougher messes like stained bathroom tiles or ovens.  I let the solution sit for about a day and half to infuse the vinegar and then went to work.

Homemade toy cleaner, #HeinzVinegar, make your own toy cleaner

That squeaky clean piggy you saw above? Well before he was shiny and clean he was covered in a mystery substance that could have been food or boogers.  Isn't motherhood that glamorous vision of pushing a designer stroller and picnics in the park we all had? 

I just gave him a few squirts of my rosemary and lemon infused vinegar, wiped him down and had a shiny, sparkly and most importantly, bacteria free piggy.  It gives me peace of mind knowing that when we have friends with little kids over I can keep my toys germ free and chemical free which are pretty much of equal importance to me.  What else can you do with cleaning vinegar?

You might not have been able to see it but that piggy also had a nice sticker put over his left eye. Does your child like to put stickers where they don't belong?  Like all over your furniture?  If so, we should probably hang out. 
#HeinzVinegar, removing stickers from furniture, chemical-free cleaning

Kayla is famous for operating like a stealth ninja and sticking them everywhere when I take 2 minutes to do things like load the dishwasher.  Sometimes they leave sticky nasty residue and then I get to try to scrape them off with my fingers.  Just a couple sprays of the vinegar cleaning solution, let it sit for 3-5 minutes and they peel right off.  Plus, I get my toy cabinets cleaned as a bonus.  

Do you have mystery stains on your carpet or rugs?  Between Kayla and our dog we have more than I'd like to admit.  Kayla's carpet in her bedroom was getting so bad I was thinking we'd need to replace it in the next year or so.  I had tried a rug cleaner on it several times and it could not get these stains out.  I was skeptical but decided to see if I could get these ancient stains out with the vinegar mixture and some baking soda.
#HeinzVinegar, cleaning rug stains with vinegar and baking soda

I just sprayed down the stains with a thorough dousing, sprinkled on some baking soda and let it sit for maybe 3 minutes.  Then I agitated it with an old toothbrush and let it dry.  I was actually amazed at how well it worked.  And now I will definitely NOT be replacing that carpet any time soon!  Not bad for about $4 worth of ingredients and a little elbow grease. Plus I love that I'm not using chemicals on this carpet where my child will definitely be rolling around playing on a regular basis.

#HeinzVinegar, cleaning rug stains with vinegar and baking soda

Just so you know, I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and HEINZ #CBias #SocialFabric but everything you see here is my personal opinion and we've been using this chemical free approach for quite some time!
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