Friday, April 19, 2013

Get your very own Stork Babies!

Being a mom of two boys, you can find our home with scattered toy cars, Legos, building blocks, and toy trains! We do also have lots of stuffed animals, one of which is our five year old's favorite, Olivia from Nick Jr.

Olivia, the pink pig and her red dress, is often right beside my son as he's sleeping, watching TV, or just hanging out. My husband and I have always been open to having our boys play with whatever toys they want to. We don't believe in "boy toys" or "girl toys", but more of whatever will spark their interest!

Garcia Memories is so excited to bring you STORK BABIES! When my boys first saw the Stork Babies, they said "Aw! How cute!" and asked to read the little descriptions of each of the babies. Each baby is unique, with a short list of likes and interests. This quickly led to a discussion of who the babies reminded us of, who we knew had the same interests as the babies, and more.

Here is more about Stork Babies:
The philosophy behind The Fiammetta Toy Co. Inc.™ is to empower children to believe in themselves and their abilities, and to nurture and build their self-esteem to feel confident and positive about the world around them. The Stork Babies™ dolls are designed to emphasize this philosophy, providing children with an adorable companion to dazzle their imaginations, to remind them of their worth and to help them believe in their abilities.

All Stork Babies™ are named and come with a unique saying that has been individualized for the doll. Our hope is that parents take the time and talk to their children about the empowering and/or positive saying that comes with the doll. We know parents are busy, but it is so important that your little ones feel good about themselves. If you can, spend a few quality minutes and talk about how important it is to believe in yourself, your talents and dreams. Little ones are so impressionable at this age and significant images of themselves can be formed. This is the time we must share how important it is to love ourselves for who we are and those around us.

I'd love to share a set of 8 Italian Collection Stork Babies with YOU! Enter here to WIN:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Remember Atari? Here I am with my cousin Carol at one of my birthday parties, maybe five or six years old.
I was so happy to get my Atari game system! The joystick and the single red button. It brought me such joy back then! I spent hours playing Pong. When I think of the simplicity of Pong and the complexity of the video games today, video games have come a LONG way!
Do you have Atari memories?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Microsoft Tech Tots

A few weeks ago, my husband told me about the Tech Tots classes offered at our local Microsoft Store. I was super excited to take our boys since they love technology! I've caught my five-year-old watching Windows 8 tutorial videos and advertisements on YouTube so I knew he'd be excited to go to Tech Tots. 

On the Microsoft website, Tech Tots is described as "hands-on, interactive playground where children ages 2-5 will learn by doing — and parents can learn tech tips and discover the latest in technology." The description was perfect to meet my sons' interest in technology!

So early a Wednesday morning, we headed to the Microsoft store about 30 minutes before to ensure we had a spot in the "class". Tech Tots started 30 minutes before the store opening to the public. The children were welcomed into the store for "free play" for the first 10 minutes. My five year old ran to the first tablet he could get his hands on and started swiping the home screen for a game or app to explore. A few of the other toddlers did the same. There was no guidance by any of the Microsoft staff as to which app to use, which were kid friendly or educational. So, my five-year-old, on his own, found a drawing app he played with. My 2-year-old found a spot in the corner of the store where a play  area was set with a play mat and blocks for the younger children to play. 

After about 10-15 minutes, the children were called to the play mat, given name tags, and were given an explanation of the activity for the morning. The children were told they were going on a treasure hunt around the store. With a tablet, the Microsoft employee showed the children a short animated video of "Tech Mouse" who was going to lead them on the scavenger hunt. A dozen kids huddled around a tablet with barely audible sound was discouraging when there was a big screen TV right behind the Microsoft employee showing the children the tablet.

The children were then each given a Microsoft shopping bag and the treasure hunt began. The Microsoft employee showed the children a picture of the first treasure to be found in the store. The picture was on her smartphone. Again, a dozen kids huddled around a small smartphone, when the store was filled with tablets and TVs, didn't make sense. 

The first clue was an X-Box Angry Birds game. The children went running to find the game. They were instructed to each put the game in their bag. One child asked, "Do we get to keep it?!". The employee then replied, "No, you're going to have to give it back at the end of the treasure hunt." A few of the kids sighed, others responded with an "Aww....". 

The next treasure was Bluetooth headphones. Again, the kids ran around the store, looking for the headphones. Once found, they placed the items in their bags. 

The third and final clue was a flyer for a $99 class offered at the Microsoft store to learn how to use their products. The kids were each given a flyer and placed it in their bags.

All the children were then instructed to go back to the play mat. "We are now going to look at our treasures!" the employee said. "First take this out..." pulling out the Angry Birds game. The employee then asked, "Do you all know what this is? What do you do with it? Do you all have an X-Box at home?" At this point, I was getting a bit upset. This "Tech Tots" was not teaching my child on how to use technology, but more of now to buy Microsoft products! 

Next, the children were instructed to pull out the headphones. Again the children were asked, "Do you know what this is for? Do you have headphones at home?"

Lastly the flyer. The children pulled the flyer out of their bags and the employee said "This is a flyer for a class offered here in our store. It's for your parents to learn more about how to use their Microsoft products". 

Then, the children were instructed "Ok, kids. Now give me all the items back." As the employee gathered all of the X-Box games, Bluetooth headphones, flyers, and Microsoft bags. 

"Now you can have some more free times on the computers. Have fun! No running OK?" said the Microsoft employee. Again, no direction on educational apps and programs to use. 

After about 10 minutes, the kids were brought back to the play mat and given snacks: a juice box and a small package of goldfish crackers with a huge Microsoft sticker on the side! Now, call me crazy but, isn't giving kids juice and snacks in an electronics store a BAD IDEA?! After the snacks, the kids and parents were thanked for coming and they hoped to see us next week. I didn't expect my kids to be given snacks, that's NOT what we were there for.

I will NOT be coming back to a Tech Tots "class" at the Microsoft Store. My sons learned nothing about technology, except for Microsoft products that they DO NOT NEED and are NOT EDUCATIONAL. If Microsoft's purpose of "Tech Tots" is marketing, they failed. Does Microsoft not have apps or software worthy to share in a venue like "Tech Tots"? Show me how your products can engage my child in learning their alphabet, numbers, and/or reading, not X-Box ANGRY BIRDS!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Find time for YOU with Firefly Wellness

Finding time to take care of myself is few and far between. Between work and taking care of my family, it's after hours when I have an hour or two to unwind. At this time where I really want to be is at the mall shopping or at the spa getting pampered which is, unfortunately, unrealistic. So at the end of each day, my me time ends up curling up with a book, catching up with emails, and indulging in some good TV. I also really have to get back with my exercise routine, but that needs its own blog post!

Yet, the past two weeks I have been able to find some quality me time thanks to my work schedule's spring break! I spent a day getting my nails done and getting a long over due facial. Thanks for Joann Woolley's recommendation, I was able to visit Karen from Firefly Wellness. Karen, a longtime esthetician and massage therapist, has worked in the industry for many years, from local spas and chiropractic clinics. When her son was a born a few years ago, she continued her business from home. Her facial/massage room is located in a studio in the back of her home. Once I stepped in, I was immediately relaxed. The soft music was playing, the windows were dimmed, and the calming smell of "spa" was all around. If you've been to a spa before, you may be able to relate to the smell of "spa" I refer too. It's a combination of the smell of the lotions and cleaners used, massage oil, and aroma therapy. Once I smell that combination, I'm immediately in relaxation mode.

Karen of Firefly Wellness talked to me about skin type, my skin care routine, and any concerns about my skin. I was honest about my not so diligent routine of taking care of my skin and Karen said she'd give me some easy steps to start off with. My facial with mircoderm abrasion included a neck, shoulder, and arm massage. It was all super relaxing. I have to admit I have a habit of falling asleep and snoring during my facials and massages. It is a bit embarrassing but I also think its a compliment because the treatment is doing its job: ultimate relaxation! The facial was refreshing and left me with a glow my husband noticed when I got home (he usually doesn't notice). The microderm abrasion helped lighten some of the dark spots I've been developing over the years. I look forward to seeking Karen more regularly to help me put my best face forward ;)

For home treatments, Karen gave me a few samples to try, including a exfoliation product to use three times a week and also a moisturizer with sunscreen. Both, she said, should help with getting rid of my dark spots. Once I settled into this routine, Karen said we'd add a few more steps.

Thanks to Karen for a relaxing and refreshing quality time for me! Please visit Firefly Wellness on Facebook for specials and package deals! Karen is willing to work with her clients to create packages and pricing customized for you!

*I was given a complimentary facial with add-on in exchange for my blog post. All my opinions are my own. 
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