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Elf on the Shelf Does Birthdays!

elfbirthdyas

I just found out about this cute Elf on the Shelf birthday tradition and I had to share with you. Elf on the Shelf does birthdays!

My mother-in-law called me all excited a couple of days ago…because she had just seen Kathie Lee Gifford interview the authors of, “Elf on a Shelf,” and she asked me if I knew that our family elf is able to visit on our child’s birthday?

How long has this been going on, and how am I just finding out about this?!

As the authors explained during the interview, Santa loves birthdays. And he loves that each child has their own holiday so he wants to help them celebrate!

But you must write to Santa in advance to ask if your family’s elf can join you on your birthday. You can send a message to Santa on their website.

Then hopefully Santa will give your elf the “day off” to visit and observe all the festivities of the day.

There are few things in life that my children love more than our beloved family elf, Jingles.  They take her presence very seriously. (Yes, it’s a girl elf.  My daughter was absolutely insistent that Jingles is a GIRL, mom.  So I wrote Santa last December and asked him to deliver a skirt so that Jingles would be more comfortable.)

Even my littlest one…who was introduced to Jingles at only two, still asks throughout the year, “Mama, when our Jingles come back?” with big, hopeful puppy dog eyes.

So for this sweet little elf to appear on their birthdays? Oh.my.word.

There is a full Elf on the Shelf birthday kit you can order which includes the Elf on the Shelf: A Birthday Tradition book and birthday outfit for your elf to wear to the birthday party.

My little girl turns six in November, so it’s a must.  I am super excited, and can’t wait to see her surprised little face on her birthday morning. I wonder what that silly elf will be up to!

This would also be a GREAT Christmas gift to give your kids on Christmas morning. 

During the interview, the authors also said that a dollar from every book is going to charity water because Santa wants to make sure birthdays are celebrated all over the world. Love this.

If you’re new to the Elf on the Shelf phenomena, click here.  I highly recommend this adorable little tradition during the holiday season.  It has become very much a part of our every December.

Stay tuned for more Elf on the Shelf blogs as the holidays approach!

Has anyone else’s family elf visited them for their child’s birthday?  Any fun stories to share?  If so, comment below!

Put a Lid on It

LEGO Organization Tips

My sister wrote this guest post today on LEGO organization tips. Thanks Suz!

LEGO Sanity

I’m sure I’m not alone when saying I have a 4 year old that is LEGO OBSESSED. Maybe it was our fault for starting it all too early at age 2 1/2 (and maybe Daddy secretly likes building them too!).

We’ve been collecting the little LEGO sets for about 1 1/2 years now and every few months I find myself swimming in the little pieces. I think my son also feels a bit overwhelmed when he sees his messy bin of all types of Legos mixed together. And with a baby brother who recently became mobile (Lord help me), my fear of finding him choking on a mini figure became enough for me to find some order in the brick chaos.

I hope these LEGO organization tips might help other moms swimming in the pieces too.

My Favorite LEGO Organization Containers

There are a ton of different options for LEGO organization,but I find these bins from The Container Store are the easiest and least expensive option.

We use these Accessory Boxes for the colored bricks and the Shoe Boxes for the completed models. By the way, did you know you can place an order over the phone or online at The Container Store and many locations offer curbside pick up where you can drive up and they will bring it out to your car so you don’t have to unload the kids?!

They are a great size, stack nicely on a shelf and are clear so you can always see what’s in them. They are actually sold as shoe bins for fancy people that keep their shoes in closed boxes. At $1.89, go ahead and buy the case of 20 of them for $33.80. You will find tons of uses for them in your house if you have extras.  And maybe your shoes might get lucky too!

Once you have your containers, it’s time to sort.

Sort. Sort. And sort.

We found it’s easiest to do this by color, wheels and axles, mini figures and mini fig accessories. Set aside any models that are already built and store them in the boxes ALONG with the instruction book. Then on those rainy days or times when you are looking to entertain your little one for awhile, you can get out a box with the instructions and let them deconstruct and build it all again.

The best part is, the lids are great for spreading out the pieces and when it is time to take a break it is all contained!!

I’m sure this OCD organization method will not last us forever, but at least I feel more comfortable that all those little pieces have a good home away from our crawling baby!  Happy sorting!

Do you have any other LEGO organization tips???

It Really Does Have Everything

new barbie dreamhouse review

New Barbie Dreamhouse Review 

Barbie has new digs, did you know? Yes, it’s true, after a summer of travels, Barbie realized her heart will always belong in Malibu where she returned to move into her newly renovated, ultra-glam Dreamhouse. Which, like Barbie, really does have everything.

My girls, ages four and seven, love Barbie. It is one of their favorite things to play, so when I was contacted about receiving this new Barbie Dreamhouse for review, I jumped at the chance.

I grew up playing with Barbies with my sister. I always longed for the Dreamhouse back then, but we never got one. Sometimes I wonder if my girls realize just how lucky they are!

My Girls’ Favorite Features: 

Accessories: The set comes with many little fun accessories including plates, cups, food, utensils, laptop, hair dryer, soap, hair brushes, puppy, pet bed and bone, etc. It wasn’t until I was playing Barbies with my girls one day that I noticed that all the kitchen pieces were designed to be “plugged in” to all the surfaces so they stay in place in the cupboards and on the table. Brilliant!

Sounds: All throughout the house, there are buttons you can press for very clear, loud sounds, like a ringing doorbell, blender, hair dryer, flushing toilet, and our favorite, Barbie singing a very catchy tune in the shower, la la la la la la la la la. It will stay in your head, believe me.

Elevators: Perhaps the most intriguing and magical part of the new Barbie Dreamhouse are the two, yes, two working elevators. The Dreamhome can be expanded so the elevator can goes up the middle to the three different levels. There is also a wardrobe elevator that goes from Barbie’s walk-in closet to the bathroom below.

Six Rooms for Playing Fun: The home includes six rooms for different Barbie play scenarios. There is a kitchen with pink stainless steel kitchen appliances, walk-in closet with desk/vanity, bathroom, dining room with light up chandelier, bedroom with extra bed for sleepovers, and a living room with a flatscreen TV that changes channels and a balcony for indoor/outdoor living.

GirlsBarbie

Things to Note:

Assembly: Luckily I have a handy hubby who can assemble  because that is not one of my strengths. I can barely put a battery into something. He said some of the instructions were a tad confusing, but he was able to figure it out. Assembly was time consuming but not terribly difficult.

Lots of small parts: This toy is definitely not for little ones as there are a lot of small parts. For my girls ages, it is perfect.

It’s plastic: It’s plastic construction, so some things will come apart with play. Periodically I will have to reattach the front door, or the balcony, or some other piece. It doesn’t break – but things can come undone. And sometimes the elevator sticks. No biggie, but want you to know.

It’s big: The new Barbie Dreamhouse is big. Bigger than life big, and actually taller than my 4-year-old. It’s about 4′ wide, when expanded, is about 1 1/2′ deep and 43″ tall. Just something to keep in mind when you thinking of where you will keep it.

Case of random flushing: My husband and I think this is quite hilarious. There have been a couple times when the toilet has flushed when no one is playing with it. It is Halloween time. Maybe a Barbie ghost has come for a visit?

BarbieCloset

What Mom Loves the Most 

For little girls, I think playing Barbie is so wonderful for imaginary play. I will overhear my girls coming up with all sorts of funny scenarios when they are playing with Barbie, and this new Dreamhouse is so wonderful for igniting the imagination.

The other day, I caught my little one above going through all of our Barbie shoes to organize them in Barbie’s walk in closet. She then decided that the drawer below should be for all the purses. Disregard bed placement in the closet, for some reason she likes it in there, and with Barbie, there are no rules.

Where to Buy 

The new Barbie Dreamhouse is available at Walmart and retail stores nationwide; MSRP = $184.99. However, when writing this post, I noticed several retailers have the Barbie Dreamhouse on sale now, so it might be a good time to buy if you are thinking of it for a holiday gift!

I highly recommend this product; it has provided hours and hours of entertainment for my girls (and mom too!) I hope you have found this new Barbie Dreamhouse review to be helpful.

Disclosure: I participated in this sponsored campaign for One2One Network. I received monetary compensation and product to facilitate my post, but all opinions stated are my own, of course. 

Cool Book for LEGO Lovers

LEGO building book for kids

Recently I was contacted with the opportunity to review  a new book called Cool Creations in 35 Pieces, a LEGO building book, by LEGO artist Sean Kenney.

I immediately thought of my 4-year-old nephew, A.J., who at a very young age became a LEGO fanatic. I asked my sister if she would like to put this new book to the test on her LEGO lover, to which the answer was an enthusiastic, “YES.”

Cool Creations in 35 Pieces Review

by Suzanne Burns, mom of a 4-year-old LEGO fan

“I was excited to be able to test out this new LEGO building book by Sean Kenney as I was desperate for some indoor quiet activities while baby brother napped during the last (LONG) week of summer.

My 4-year-old is LEGO crazy so the idea of this book is so smart. Sean re-uses the same 35 pieces to make a variety of images in all different categories.

LEGOS

When starting out, the first thing you do is find these 35 pieces in your own Lego collection. If you don’t have them, you can also order from his website.

I love this because you don’t need the specific piece with the suggested colors ~ but you can mix it up with what you have available. Done…here’s what we dug up!

LEGO pieces for Lego Building Book
Then, let the building begin!

It is separated into sections of robots, silly faces, vehicles, farm animals, etc. And with 35 pieces, the steps are very simple for a 4-year-old to complete on his own. Heaven!!

I actually told him to surprise me with his favorite one and then I went….to shower!! A long shower that wasn’t interrupted through the curtain asking me to find a piece for him or help him when he finish a step.

Over the course of a few days, my little guy kept going back to the book and finding new ones to build.

Here he is in action and with a few of his creations. Most importantly, the Pirate Policeman finally had a giant mouse to ride. I just love to see my kid’s imagination at work!

Lego Building Book
So if you know a Lego fanatic, this would be a perfect birthday or holiday gift at a fantastic price point…only $13!!! It is sure to keep them busy and entertained! We will for sure check out some of his other books in the future!!!”

Sean Kenney is an artist who creates scultpures and models out of LEGO bricks at his studio in New York City. He has toured the world with his creations and produced six inspirational and instructive children’s books. For more info and to see his books and art, visit www.seankenney.com.

[Disclosure: Complimentary copy of Cool Creations in 35 pieces was provided for review. 110% of our opinions are our own. My sister on numerous occasions has remarked on how much she LOVES this book. ]

Gift Idea: Thomas & Friends Sodor Search and Rescue

This is a great gift idea for any of you looking for a last minute gift this week! The Thomas & Friends Sodor Search and Rescue play set has provided hours and hours of fun in our house!

I have two girls, and it is not intentional, but we honestly do not have many traditional “boy” toys like trucks, cars or trains.

So when the folks at Mega Bloks contacted me about doing a review of one of their products, the Thomas and Friends Sodor Search and Rescue, I thought, “it’s about time we have a toy like this for the girls to enjoy!”

It is a GREAT toy, and reasonably priced at $29.99. This set would make for a great gift idea for any little one (boy OR girl) 3 and older on your list.

It comes in a handy carry case which doubles as a building platform.  I love a toy that has dual purpose, and it is great to have an easy place to store the little parts.

The set includes different accessories like opening doors, a track switch and a working crane as well as Thomas and Harold buildable characters.

It took some time, but both my girls figured out how to put it together.  I think my husband also secretly loves assembling it too.

www.MegaBloks.com

Join the Mega Bloks Family Club to stay up to date on the latest and greatest toys for all ages.  And right now, they have a Holiday Toy Giveaway going on where you can enter to win a new toy daily! Click here for more info.

[Disclosure: I received a complimentary Thomas and Friends Sodor and Rescue play set to facilitate this review. Thank you!]