Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baby Einstein Discovery Kit Review

We are big fans of all things Baby Einstein here on The Avenue, so when I heard that they were releasing a new product called Baby Einstein Discovery Kits I was very excited to review the Wild Animal Safari kit with TC.

Each Discovery Kit features 3 different products in one package: a DVD, a CD, and a book or set of flash cards, they also come with a parent's guide to offer suggestions on how parents can use the discovery kits to interact with their babies. There are 3 different levels of Discovery Kits that grow with your baby:

Level 1: Experience

Baby Beethoven™ Discovery Kit includes a DVD, Book, Music CD and Parents’ Guide.
Parent and child will listen to the joyous sounds and cherished works of Beethoven. See how music celebrates the sounds of different instruments. Together, they will experience a world of enchanting sights and sounds and make new discoveries with Baby Beethoven.

Baby Mozart™ Discovery Kit includes a DVD, Book, Music CD and Parents’ Guide.
Parent and child will discover the joy of classical music together and listen to Mozart’s popular works – including “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” – delightfully reorchestrated for little ears. They’ll look at real-life images and enchanting puppet shows bringing a symphony of sights and sounds together as they share new discoveries with Baby Mozart.

Level 2: Explore

Wild Animal Safari Discovery Kit includes a DVD, Discovery Cards, Music CD and Parents’ Guide.
Parents can take their little explorer on an exotic musical expedition to meet wild animals from across the globe. Together, they’ll journey to the jungle, savanna, desert and forest on a wild, wonderful voyage of discovery with Wild Animal Safari.

Animals Around Me Discovery Kit includes a DVD, Discovery Cards, Music CD and Parents’ Guide.
Parent and child set off on a fun-filled “field trip” to discover animals found at the park, on the farm, and in their own backyard – whether furry or feathered, winged or wiggly, bumpy or cuddly, they’ll explore the Animals Around Me.

Level 3: Expression

World of Colors Discovery Kit includes a DVD, Book, Music CD and Parents’ Guide.
Parent and child share a rainbow of sights and sounds and discover the wonders of color together! They’ll join puppet host “Vincent Van Goat” as he creates six Van Gogh masterpieces exploring red, green, blue, yellow, orange and purple with World of Colors.

World of Words Discovery Kit includes a DVD, Book, Music CD and Parents’ Guide.
Parent and child join playful puppet host Bard the Dragon on an exciting adventure using everyday words, such as flower, cat, and moon, plus beautiful scenery from nature with World of Words.

These new kits will replace the current Baby Einstein DVDs and all of the DVDs in the kits are either completely new, or have been updated and enhanced. The overall Discovery Kit experience is completely new. The first six Discovery Kits are available for purchase November 23, 2010 and three additional Discovery Kits will be available in early 2011.

TC loved the bright colors, the real life animals and the silly puppet shows. Not wanting to be left out, big brother TOF enjoyed holding up the flash cards and naming the animals for his baby brother. The flash cards have animal facts on the back which kept things more interesting for TOF and for me too. Did you know that a lion's roar is so loud it can be heard five miles away? Or that a tiger's stripes are like fingerprints? No two are alike!

TC, TOF and I really enjoyed the new Baby Einstein Wild Animal Safari Discovery Kit and give it three thumbs up.

Disclaimer: I was sent a Discovery Kit for the purpose of review, all opinions are my own and no monetary compensation was received.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adopted Ed

November is National Adoption Month and even though I am not adopted, nor did I adopt any of my children, I'd like to bring your attention to a wonderful new children's book that addresses adoption.

Adopted Ed is a simple and beautifully illustrated story about an adopted little boy and his journey through his early years. Easy-to-read and understand, this book has important underlying messages of personal empowerment, social pressures and acceptance.

It focuses on the life of Eddie, an adopted little boy, who is just like every other boy and girl.

At school, when he is teased by bullies about being adopted, his mom offers words of wisdom, which ultimately gives him self-confidence to deal with the situation.

Over time, Eddie feels a strong void and becomes curious about his biological parents, which ultimately leads him to find out more. Adopted Ed concludes with a section of famous people who were adopted.

About the author:

Darren Maddern is just one of the many millions of adopted people throughout the world today.

Born in England, Darren was adopted when he was only 10 days old by Don and Dolly Maddern, an American military couple who were stationed at an American Air Force base just outside of Oxford.

Throughout his life Maddern has been asked about being adopted. Through candidly sharing his story, he’s helped many adoptees, parents of adopted children and parents considering adoption.

Adopted Ed is dedicated to both his adopted and biological parents with a special dedication to his mom, Dolly Maddern who passed away in 2000 and his pops, Don Maddern who joined her in 2009. It’s also dedicated to every adopted man, woman and child to remind them that they too are indeed – SPECIAL.

You can find Adopted Ed at Amazon.com.

Watch for Darren Maddern's next book Tall Moll coming in early 2011.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of Adopted Ed by One2One Network for the purpose of review. I received no other compensation.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010


There was a time when I had a different pair of shoes for just about every outfit I owned. I had black pumps, black flats, black strappy sandals. I had this awesome pair of spectator pumps that I wore with a polka dot dress. I had shoes in 4 or 5 different shades of pink. I also had a full time job outside the home to support my shoe fetish.

Dressy shoes have taken a back seat in my life, replaced instead by athletic shoes and slippers. Staying at home with the boys, I have little need for fancy stilettos. That doesn't mean that shoes don't matter to me, I just prefer the comfort of a sturdy pair of walking shoes for chasing TOF at the playground.

I have found that with my stay at home lifestyle, my walking shoes tend to wear out much more quickly than my dress shoes ever did. I like to alternate between a few different pairs of shoes for a little variety and I try to replace them when they start to show signs of wear. At Zappos.com I can always find the latest styles at a great price and Zappos also offers free shipping on all domestic orders. If you're not 100% satisfied with your purchase you can return your order for a full refund. Your return shipping costs are also free.

When you're looking for new shoes for yourself or the kiddos, be sure to check out Zappos.com.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Greatest Show on Earth

We had a great time at FUNundrum!

TOF was so excited about the motorcycles in the ball of death.

TC, well let's just say the popcorn was his favorite. He. wouldn't. sit. still. The child is high maintenance, but if we don't try we'll never know. So sorry to the little boy in front of us.

As for me, I LURVE, LURVE, LURVE the ellie fonts! There's no denying that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' newest addition, Barack, a 22 month old pachyderm, was the star of the show.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey show will be at The United Center through November 28th.

You can still purchase a 4 pack of tickets for $44 (valid Monday-Thursday and Friday Matinees, excluding holidays) and save $4 on all weekend shows by logging onto www.ticketmaster.com and entering the coupon code: MOM* (enter code in the MC Productions box on Ticketmaster).(Service charges may apply)


Sat November 20 11:30AM, 3:30PM, 7:30PM
Sun November 21 1:00PM, 5:00PM
Tue November 23 7:00PM
Wed November 24 7:00PM
Fri November 26 11:30AM, 3:30PM, 7:30PM
Sat November 27 11:30AM, 3:30PM, 7:30PM
Sun November 28 1:00PM, 5:00PM

Parking is free for the Circus and all other family shows at the United Center!

Disclaimer: I received tickets to the show and no other compensation.
The opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Build-A-Bear Giveaway

On our latest beary special 'date' TOF, TC and I hit the mall. More specifically, Build-A-Bear Workshop, to check out their new Holiday lineup. A seasoned Build-A-Bear shopper, TOF was very excited to help TC make his very first bear reindeer.

When she asked us what the occasion was for visiting Build-A-Bear Workshop, Bianca didn't believe us when I told her Maxine sent us. I love how the employees always take time to make every visit extra special. Thanks Bianca, we'll be sure to put in a good word for you with Santa.

TC loved that Rudolph's nose lit up and that he talked to him. Super cute!

TOF knew just what to do after his Rudolph was stuffed. Time to wash and fluff.

Is there a someone special on your Christmas list that would love to have their very own Build-A-Bear? I just happen to have a $25 gift card to give away!

To enter:

Visit the Build-A-Bear Workshop website and tell me which special friend you would make and who it would be for.

To increase your chances of winning, you may do any or all of the following.
Be sure to complete the above mandatory entry or your bonus entries will not count!
Remember to leave one comment per entry and an email so I can contact you in the event that you are the winner.

* Follow my blog publicly through Google Friend Connect.

* Follow me on Twitter.

* Tweet about this giveaway. I entered to win a $25 Build-A-Bear gift card from @megryansmom http://bit.ly/dpqnQ6 #BABW #giveaway

* Subscribe to my blog in your reader.

* Enter this giveaway into another giveaway linky on another blog or website. Then leave me the link to where you posted it in the comments.

* If you want to stumble, plurk, digg etc. have at it, just leave me a comment with the details.

This giveaway ends on Monday November 29th and the winner will be notified by email.

Shop at Build-A-Bear Workshop through November 24 and receive a free stocking with a purchase of $30 or more.

Disclaimer: Build-A-Bear provided me with a gift card for TOF to make a special friend and also one to giveaway on this blog. All opinions are my own and no monetary compensation was received.
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Panko Review and Giveaway

The winner is my Okie friend Dawn!

If the survival of mankind depended on my cooking, the human race would suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs did once upon a little while.

I loathe cooking!

Is there a word stronger than loathe?

I never have the right ingredients, I'm too tired, too lazy, I don't like to clean up.

It's just the two of us.

I'm preoccupied, forgetful. I burn things or they are underdone.

I'd be happy to eat out every day or just have a bowl of cereal. Unfortunately, Whynot and I do not see eye to eye with these options and so I cook for the sake of survival.

The other day, as I stared at two 1/2 thawed chicken breasts, daydreaming of how fabulous it would be to sit down to a deliciously prepared by someone else plate of Chicken Piccata, I remembered the box of Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko in the pantry.

The chef´s secret is out - panko is in! A longtime secret of Japanese cuisine, panko is now a pantry staple for creating perfect crispiness in any dish. This fall, Lemon Pepper will join the ranks of Progresso´s line of panko bread crumbs, which includes Original and Italian flavors.

Whether frying, baking or broiling, this culinary superstar adds a flavorful crunch to create simple, savory recipes. Made from the soft, tender centers of the bread, Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko combines the perfect crunch with effortless flavor to give any dish that extra punch. The large, flaky crumb has a coarser texture than traditional bread crumbs, delivering a lighter, crunchier coating or topping.

I adapted a super easy crusted salmon recipe from the back of the box using 1/2 a cup of Panko, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons fresh buttery flavored spread. I mixed it all together, and pressed it evenly on the chicken breasts. One half hour later I placed the baked chicken on top of some green beans and called it dinner.

If you´d like to try Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko for yourself, I am giving away a gift pack including one package of Panko and an autographed copy of Chef Michael Chiarello´s new cookbook: Michael Chiarello´s Bottega.

A chef known for his emphasis on creating delicious dishes with fresh, premium ingredients, Chef Chiarello uses panko as his go-to bread crumb for a crunch that won´t quit. An Emmy-award winning TV chef and cookbook author, Chef Chiarello is the tastemaker behind Bottega Napa Valley Restaurant, NapaStyle and Chiarello Family Vineyards, and appears on The Cooking Channel and Top Chef Masters only on Bravo.

Chef Chiarello is helping cooks everywhere use Progresso´s panko to make flavorful, flawless recipes including Crispy Seafood Salad, Mama Chiarello's Stuffed Eggplant and Turkey Scallopini and Squash Ravioli with Cranberry Brown Butter.

To enter:

Visit the Progresso website and tell me a recipe you'd like to try using panko.

To increase your chances of winning, you may do any or all of the following.
Be sure to complete the above mandatory entry or your bonus entries will not count!
Remember to leave one comment per entry and an email so I can contact you in the event that you are the winner.

  • Follow my blog publicly through Google Friend Connect.
  • Tweet about this giveaway.
  • Subscribe to my blog in your reader.
  • Enter this giveaway into another giveaway linky on another blog or website. Then leave me the link to where you posted it in the comments.
  • If you want to stumble, plurk, digg etc. have at it, just leave me a comment with the details.
This giveaway ends on November 23rd and the winner will be notified by email.

Visit the Progresso website for additional recipes, tips for cooking with panko, video and a coupon for $1 off any panko flavor.

Additionally, be sure to check out the Progresso's Wine & Dine with Chef Michael Chiarello Sweepstakes. Now through December 31st, participants can enter for the chance to win a trip for two to Napa Valley to attend the Spring Bud Break Party, an annual dinner and wine tasting event taking place on May 7, 2011. In addition to two tickets to the party, the grand prize also includes roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations. Visit www.progressobroth.com for the sweepstakes rules and entry form.

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays

Disclaimer: General Mills through MyBlogSpark provided me with a box of panko and an autographed cookbook as well as an identical prize pacakge to giveaway to one reader. I received no other compensation.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

A Quickie

To all of you taken aback, put off, or inconvenienced by the body scan at airports:

Read Erin's account and you may reconsider your opinion. Go ahead I'll wait, I'll even wait for you to pick your chin up off the floor.

Now what were you saying about that body scan?

Whynot and I recently flew to Kansas City, we were fortunate enough to be selected to pass through the body scanner. It was very early on a Saturday morning, I thought nothing of it. It was no big deal to me. Besides, any government employee who would get his rocks off looking at a scan of this grandma is pretty sad off IMO.

After reading about Erin's incident I'll gladly choose the body scanner over a pat down thank you very much!
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Mickey Mote Review


I think I've mentioned once or twice how excited we all get on The Avenue when a delivery truck slows down in front of our house. Well the other day I think my west coast neighbors could hear the delighted squeals when we received a Mickey Mote and a copy of Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Numbers Roundup Play Set and Handy Manny’s Big Construction Job for review from Technorati Media.

I know what you're thinking...

What is a Mickey Mote?

A Mickey Mote is a one-of-a-kind, child-friendly handheld remote control, shaped like Mickey ears, that provides children with an engaging interaction with their favorite Disney Preschool DVDs.

How does it work?

The Mickey Mote works with any Disney Preschool DVD that includes a “Discovery Mode™ (an interactive “Watch & Play” feature on the DVD), feature. All parents have to do is program the remote control to their TV and within minutes, kids can easily begin engaging and responding to questions about scenes they just watched using the Mickey Mote.

Ay yi yi yi, parents have to program. Let me just say the DVD player and I are not friends. I'm an old school VCR kind of girl. Oh sure I can pop a movie in and watch, sometimes, but anything more complicated than that and I'm completely lost. I considered sending the package home with TOF so that Durwood could figure it out, but that would be cheating. Sort of. I mustered up some courage and sat down with the tiny sheet of directions while two very impatient toddlers were all set to play their brand new video games. It was just like a watched pot never boils. But you know what? I DID IT! It took 2 tries because reading and comprehension are skills that I sometimes lack LOL

We were good to go. Or so we thought.

Our next obstacle was overcoming the Fast-Play feature. The menu never popped up to choose the Discovery Mode, but being as my thinking cap was already on, I realized that if I just hit the menu button, I could get to that root menu and select from there.

Ta daaa! And my little helpers were still so excited.

The remote is geared towards 2-5 year olds and my testers are a brand new 4 and 4 and 8 months. The first DVD we watched was Handy Manny. There are two difficulty levels and to start out I chose the least difficult of the two. I noticed that the interactive questions came on rather infrequently and seemed far too easy for my little testers, they however didn't seem to mind. TOF understood that he needed to point the remote directly at the DVD player, while Calla had a little difficulty remembering.

When testing the Mickey's Number Round Up, I chose the more difficult level and it appeared that there was more frequent interaction during the video.

Now, you're probably wondering...

How do I purchase one?

The new Mickey Mote will soon be packaged with the purchase of any new Discovery Mode enhanced Disney Preschool DVD released after November 16, 2010. The first two titles to include the new remote include Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Numbers Roundup and Handy Manny: Big Construction Job.

How much does it cost?

The Mickey Mote is not sold individually. Beginning on November 16, 2010 consumers can own the Mickey Mote with the purchase of either the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Number Roundup and/or Handy Manny: Big Construction Job DVDs –which each retail for the suggested price of $29.99 (US)/$35.99 (Canada).

Can I use it with other DVDs?

The remote control is also backwards compatible to work with any previously released Disney Preschool titles that include the “Discovery Mode” interactive feature.
To date, the remote will work with any of the following titles:
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Little Einstein’s: Fire Truck Blast Off
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Choo Choo
  • Handy Manny’s: Manny’s Motorcycle Adventure
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie’s Bowtique
  • Handy Manny’s: Manny’s Big Race
  • My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths
  • My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Bedtime with Pooh
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Road Rally
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Numbers Roundup
  • Handy Manny’s: Manny’s Construction Job
Overall, the kids really enjoyed their new video games. TOF being a boy of few words, just like his Pa, said it was a good game. Calla mentioned that she would prefer to have princess videos. I especially liked that they really had to pay attention and use their little minds to answer the questions. I also liked that the video could be played in a traditional format (with no remote or interaction) so that they could just enjoy the video or dance around and sing.

Disclaimer: We were provided a Mickey Mote and two videos byTechnorati Media for the purpose of review. No monetary compensation was received and the opinions are our own.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Cards

Based on the idea that 40 is the new 20, Halloween is now the new Thanksgiving. Which actually means I'm exactly one week late in getting into the Christmas spirit.

The malls are decked out in their holiday finery and rumor has it that Santa has already visited a few retail establishments. Well obviously not the real Santa, he's far too busy at the North Pole.

Are you thinking Christmas yet? High on my to do list are Christmas cards.

Shutterfly offers hundreds of beautiful designs for Christmas cards, holiday party invitations, gift tags or thank you cards. For someone who has a difficult time making a decision, I love that you can refine your choices by color, size, even a specific designer.

I think I've narrowed it down to this one.

Or maybe this is better?

But this one is cute too.

Hrmppph, I guess I haven't really narrowed it down at all.

Disclaimer: I received 50 free cards from Shutterfly for this post. If you're a blogger and would like to receive free cards visit Shutterfly at http://bit.ly/sfly2010
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Norah Jones' ...Featuring

It's nap time here on The Avenue, not for me, but TC is sound asleep in his crib upstairs, dreaming of chicken nuggets and sliced avocados and animal crackers. Hey, we don't call him The Chunk for nothin'.

Years ago, I read somewhere that music during nap time boosts brain development, so I always play soft music.

Let me tell you a little about what's in my CD player right now.

...Featuring is a star-studded collection of Norah Jones' collaborations spanning her entire career. The result serves as a kind of parallel history to her four albums, which have sold over 40 million copies worldwide.

“A lot of the people on this record are people I've worshiped since I was a kid, and some of them are younger and more my contemporaries,” says Norah. “Even though the musicians are so varied, the vibe of the songs makes sense when we put them all together.”

The 18 songs on the album include cool cameos, collaborations and duets with such legends as Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton, and with 21st Century icons from OutKast to the Foo Fighters.

The tracks on …Featuring span Norah’s entire career and reveal her astonishing musical versatility, from jazz to country, hip-hop to rock and include:

1. Love Me – The Little Willies
2. Virginia Moon – The Foo Fighters featuring Norah Jones
3. Turn Them – Sean Bones featuring Norah Jones
4. Baby It's Cold Outside – Willie Nelson featuring Norah Jones
5. Bull Rider – Norah Jones and Sasha Dobson
6. Ruler Of My Heart – Dirty Dozen Brass Band featuring Norah Jones
7. The Best Part – El Madmo
8. Take Off Your Cool – OutKast featuring Norah Jones
9. Life Is Better – Q-Tip featuring Norah Jones
10. Soon The New Day – Talib Kweli featuring Norah Jones
11. Little Lou, Prophet Jack, Ugly John – Belle & Sebastian featuring Norah Jones
12. Here We Go Again – Ray Charles featuring Norah Jones
13. Loretta – Norah Jones featuring Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
14. Dear John – Ryan Adams featuring Norah Jones
15. Creepin' In – Norah Jones featuring Dolly Parton
16. Court & Spark – Herbie Hancock featuring Norah Jones
17. More Than This – Charlie Hunter featuring Norah Jones
18. Blue Bayou – Norah Jones featuring M. Ward

…Featuring will be released on November 16. You can preorder your copy at Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of ...Featuring for the purpose of reviewing here on my blog. By doing so I am entered to win a gift card through One2One Network.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicago Toy and Game Fair

I've been invited to attend the Chicago Toy and Game Fair being held at Navy Pier on November 20 and 21, 2010.

But even more exciting....I have a family pass for you!

That's right, one lucky family out there in Readerville can win a pass to attend a fun filled day of previewing and playing the hottest and latest new toys and games!

Just leave me a comment telling me what your favorite toy was growing up and an email address so that I can contact you in the event you should win.

Oh and my favorite toy was a baby doll with an adorable red and white dress with hearts on it. She came with this awesome playset that you could transform into different things. A swing, a highchair, a stroller and even a playpen. No clue what she was called, but I loved, loved, loved that babydoll!

Disclaimer: I was given passes to the Toy and Game Fair and no other monetary compensation.
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Monday, November 1, 2010


To my friend and fellow Chicago mom-blogger Dawn Meehan on the release of her newest book You'll Lose the Baby Weight and Other Lies about Pregnancy and Childbirth

Come join Dawn for an evening of fun and laughter as she does some stand-up comedy at a book launch party this Tuesday, November 2nd at The Comedy Sportz Theater, 929 W. Belmont in Chicago from 6:30 - 9:30.

And what better way to celebrate a book on pregnancy than with a baby shower? Bring diapers, formula, or new/gently used baby clothes and be entered in a drawing for raffle prizes from Johnson's Baby, Suave, Sonic - America's Drive-In, and more! Donations will benefit Wings (Women in Need Growing Stronger), a non-profit organization that helps women and children who are fleeing domestic violence.

Admission is free and if you know any fireman, bring them along too!
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