Gabriela McBride: American Girl’s 2017 Girl of the Year + Giveaway!

We’re so excited to share American Girl’s 2017 girl of the year! Meet Gabriela McBride, a spoken word poet, and dancer who turns to her favorite creative art forms to help break down barriers and overcome personal challenges, including her own struggle with stuttering.

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A doll with a speech impediment? Yes! We can’t get enough – and adore the ways in which American Girl continues to help young girls see themselves in their diverse collection of dolls and accompanying stories.

With a fun sporty outfit and beautiful dark brown curls, Gabriela is certainly adorable, and her story of resiliency, creativity, and determination is set to inspire, as her poetry helps to save her local community arts center from collapsing.

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Alongside the doll’s release, American Girl is partnering with Scholastic to release Express Yourself, a free curriculum program to teach poetry and self-expression to kids.  The program will even feature a poetry contest to encourage children to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.

Gabriela McBride hit the shelves on January 1st of this year.  Look out for her fun products (including a D.J. setup!) and books in the spring of 2017.  Best of all, she’s the first girl of the year to be available beyond 2017.

Win It!  We’re so excited to partner with American Girl, to giveaway one Gabriela McBride doll and book to a lucky winner! Enter via the widget below. U.S. only please, and all entries are verified. Best of luck! Love American Girl? Check out our other American Girl features here.
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Holiday Gift Guide 2016 + AMEX Giveaway!

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? From gifts for kids (both big and little) to presents for her and him too – our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide has gift suggestions for everyone on your list.  Check out our pre-tested favorites for Christmas and Hanukkah gifting and scroll down to enter to win an American Express gift card giveaway to purchase something special from our curated lists. Happy gifting!

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  • For Kids

WowWee CHiP: Want to wow your kid this holiday?  This intelligent, and trainable robotic toy dog responds via touch, the included SmartBand, and the free ChiP app. Just like a real dog, he’ll follow his owner around and even play fetch and automatically return to his SmartBed when he needs to recharge.

Yvolution Y Glider Deluxe Scooter: This fun three-wheeled scooter is perfect for beginners. Suitable for ages three and up – little kids will love zipping around on this fun scooter – and the “learn to steer” design will help younger children master riding in no time.

IncrediBuilds Deluxe Books and Model Sets: Fuel their creativity with a 3D wood model set and thrilling hardcover books.  Kids will love the building and reading combo, available in favorite themes like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Fantastic Beasts and more

BOSEbuild Speaker Cube: Big Kids now have the chance to build their own blue tooth speaker with fun, vibrant lights, and customization covers. They’ll learn all about speaker components (like, coil, magnet, and paper) while making the adults in the family jealous with Bose-quality sound.

Razor RipStik Electric Caster Board: Thrill-seeking big kids (ages 9 and up) will enjoy cruising around on Razor’s RipStik Electric featuring powerful 100-watt technology and a kick start in-wheel hub driven motor that pushes speeds up to 10 mph.  Just remember to include a helmet!

LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register: Packed with tons of learning fun for little kids – this cute singing cash register has plenty of numbers, counting and role play skills in store.

WowWee COJI: This incredible, intuitive coding robot toy helps to develop STEM skills through emoji language (that kids love!).  Kids will have fun playing games that reinforce memory and problem-solving skills while having their own cool robotic toy.

Lakeshore Slot & Build Texture Shapes: You can never go wrong with a gift from Lakeshore, and these flexible, imagination-igniting building shapes are ideal for little hands.  Tots will have endless fun while exploring and creating with unique textured shapes.

Yo-kai Model Zero: Yo-kai fans will have fun projecting short character animations onto surfaces while rocking this fun, bright watch that plays tribes songs, summoning sounds, and Yo-kai names.

Kamik Boots: Give them the gift of staying warm and dry for snow play and sledding!  Kamik always has high quality, stylish, durable options to keep kids feet toasty while having fun.

Skylanders Imaginators: This fun toy-to-life video game allows players to create their own characters, called Imaginators.  This gift is sure to be a hit for the gaming kid and is available for PlayStation 5, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Xbox One.

Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing: Gift the gift of growing dozens of dazzling crystals while learning all about their structure and geometry. This great kit allows kids to mold plaster shapes and use dyes to grow a rainbow of custom colors.

LeapFrog Lean & Groove Musical MatImpress the toddler in your life with this fun interactive musical mat that encourages movement and play – while reinforcing gross motor skills, music, rhythm, and numbers.

Lakeshore Young Scientist Chemistry Lab: Encourage your budding scientist with this incredible hands-on lab that allows children to brew up mind-blowing projects –  like glowing ice spheres, jelly worms and more. Kids will learn all about chemical reactions with over 20 chemistry tools and detailed instructions.

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  • For Her

Citizen L Circle Of Time: Give her the gift of time-keeping with this stunning, timeless watch powered by Ec0-Drive technology (light!) which never requires a battery change.

Adidas Superstar 80s Shoes: Nearly every outfit can be styled with Adidas Superstar sneakers, and these are elevated with a flashy, textured metal shell toe.

May Designs Custom Planner: Give her the gift of organization with a lovely paper planner that can be personalized in every way.

Luminara Flameless Candles: She’ll love having a bunch of real flame effect candles in her home without the hazard and hassle of having to light real candles. Luminara’s battery operated flameless candles will bring coziness, glamor, and comfort to any space.

Nerium AD Skincare: Nerium AD Age Defying Night and Day Creams are back on our list this year because they continue to provide visible results!

  • For Him

Wolverine Boots: For they guy who needs serious durability – Wolverine dura shocks provide serious comfort with every step to power through any job.

Hanes FreshIQ:  Tuck favorite everyday basics like socks, T-shirts, and underwear into his stocking with built-in advanced odor protection technology that attacks odor-causing bacteria in clothing  – to help him feel fresh all day.

Tifosi Optics Sunglasses: The sports enthusiast will love the functionality, comfort, and fit of Tifosi’s sleek and lightweight frame styles made from polycarbonate materials providing 100 percent UVA/UVB protection.

The Real Deal Brazil Gravata Tablet Case: He’ll appreciate the Eco-friendliness and cool look of this durable tablet case handmade in a remote small town in rural equatorial Brazil from recycled tarps.

WIN IT! Enter to win a $100 American Express Gift Card for your holiday shopping! Simple entry via the Rafflecopter below – U.S. only. Best of luck and Happy gifting! 

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Special thank you to Time To Play Magazine, The Toy Insider, and all of the companies partnering with Marino Bambinos. Some affiliate links are included.  

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A Gift for Him (and for You!)

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, my urge to break out the Christmas boxes and decorate with my family feels stronger than ever.  This time of year is so special – and I know that the kids will someday hold on tightly to the nostalgia and memories that colored their childhood holidays.  Along with the fun of visiting the tree farm, baking, volunteering and simply being together in our home, comes the excitement of gift giving.  The kids are super easy to shop for, but gifts for my husband require a bit more planning.  Now and then I’ve attempted to gift him something on the extravagant side, but I’ve learned from over a decade of marriage that what he wants most are essentials, like socks and T-shirts from Hanes.

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With a busy, active lifestyle, he’s constantly on the go.  From being in heavy-duty construction boots on the job to juggling multiple work environments as a builder (and a dad!) – his clothes are tossed into the wash as soon as he comes back home from the job-site. And this year Hanes has certainly elevated the gift giving potential with Hanes FreshIQ products for men.  They are a gift for him (and a gift for me!) – because innovative advanced odor protection technology makes his favorite brand so much better.

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On Christmas morning, he’ll still get the comfort and softness that he’s always known from Hanes – with odor control technology that physically inhibits bacteria growth and helps to reduce any unpleasant odors from a hard day of work (including feet in serious construction boots!).

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Whether the man in your life spends his days in a boardroom, playing field, or as a stay-at-home Dad, he’ll appreciate the fresh and confident feel of everyday essentials from Hanes FreshIQ – and so will you!

Win it!  Our friends at Hanes are giving away a $50 American Express gift card to one lucky winner to stock up on the new Hanes FreshIQ T-shirts, underwear, and socks.  Simply entry is via the below widget.  U.S. only and best of luck!
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Wishing you a beautiful Holiday!

This post is sponsored by Hanes. Opinions, as always, are my own

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Melody Ellison: American Girl’s Important New Civil Rights Doll + Giveaway

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If you’re a fan of American Girl, you most likely heard about the recent debut of their new historical doll, Melody Ellison.  We’re beyond excited to share about Melody, an African American nine-year-old fictional character, living in Detroit in the mid-1960s – as well as the importance she carries for young girls everywhere.

The doll is beyond adorable and so is her 1960’s clothing and accessories – but most importantly, Melody’s story and accompanying BeForever book: No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic, helps young readers to contextualize issues of racism, perseverance, justice, optimism and equality during the civil rights movement – and in ways that apply to the present day.  Melody’s compelling story shares all about her penchant for singing and Motown music; inspiration gleaned from Martin Luther King, Jr., and the courage it takes to lift her voice to make a difference.

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“A message that I hope readers take away from Melody’s story is to think about themselves in terms of their community and what they can do to help- to change- their community. There’s always something that we can do to help change our world for the better.  I hope Melody’s books inspire conversations between young people and adults who have been part of the civil rights movement.” – Denis Lewis Patrick, Author of the Melody series

As a parent, I appreciate that I can depend on American Girl to approach crucial topics with cultural and historical accuracy.  Melody’s story is the product of over two years of work in which American Girl implemented an esteemed six-member advisory board including the late Horace Julian Bond, a leader in the civil rights movement.

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Melody Ellison is an incredible addition to American Girl’s BeForever collection encouraging girls to lift their voices in support of positive social change.

Cheers to American Girl for this doll! She’s important, and our favorite.

Win It! American Girl is generously giving away one Melody Ellison doll and book to a lucky MB reader. If you’re U.S. based, enter via the widget below. Best of luck and thank you for visiting.
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Back-To-School Cool + Gymboree Gift Card Giveaway

If you’ve seen my children at any point during this summer, discombobulated best describes their clothing choices.  We’ve been swimming in summer, kicking it at the beach and enjoying unscheduled freedom without restrictions.  That said, nothing stirs up excitement for the start of a new academic year like back-to-school shopping!  The kids will let me tuck away those worn play clothes without reservations with the promise of special new handpicked duds that reflect their individuality and budding independence.

Did you all know that Gymboree goes up to size 12? Luckily for us we still have many years of being loyal customers, because we can’t get enough of their fun coordinates and unique prints that really celebrate childhood with bright positivity and durability to last through the very important work inherent in play.

My little guy was ALL ABOUT these cool maroon and gray kicks.  Instead of swaying him to the black and gray pair that I was eyeing, we built an entire collection around his choice of hi-top sneakers.  I happen to adore all of the rich colors in the pieces that we chose, that are so on trend for this Fall.

Gymboree-Boys-Clothing-Shopping-GuideWith solid layering options as the cool autumn breezes roll in, we’ll definitely be stocking up on Gymboree’s comfy cargo joggers to keep those coveted (and errrr perhaps forbidden in school!) Pokemon cards in place.

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For the big girl, it’s ALL ABOUT THE ACCESSORIES this year.  And while I don’t usually go for extra items like bangles and purses, Gymborees’s great savings allow me to indulge in her penchant for fashion and the extra touches that make her feel special.

Gymboree-Girls-Clothing-Shopping-GuideAnd I know she’ll be living in her new riding boots and quilted moto jacket all season.

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Win It! Enter to win a $50 Gymboree Gift Card to pick up some great back-to-school styles via the below widget. U.S. only – and best of luck!  Additionally, be sure to check out Gymboree’s current contest with Disney Star Sophia Carson!

Wishing you all a great back-to-school season!
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Consideration provided by Gymboree. Opinions, as always, are my own.

 

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Traveling With Tots + Graco Breaze Click Connect Stroller Giveaway

We all want our children to travel in the safest way possible – yet over the years some readers have found price points of various car seats and strollers shared on Marino Bambinos to be unobtainable.  We absolutely understand!  That’s one of the many reasons that we were eager to meet with the team at Graco (a brand that we’ve never previously partnered with) to learn all about their top-rated, innovative, safe and affordable gear for tots.  We’re  excited to giveaway a Graco Breaze Click Connect Stroller as well as share the scoop on the Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat – that keep little ones safely riding in the rear-facing position longer.

As most of you know, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that tots travel in the rear-facing position in a vehicle until at least two years of age. And one of the most common reasons for parents turning their little ones from rear to forward facing positions earlier than recommended is due to a perceived lack of leg room. Graco has tackled this safety issue with their innovative Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat with a three-position extension panel that pulls out to provide 5″ (yes 5″!) of extra legroom when rear facing.

co-Extend2Fit 3-in-1-CarSeatWith a six-position recline, kids up to 50lbs can be comfortably adjusted to travel in the rear-facing position.  That’s not all, the seat functions as three seats in one for rear-facing infants 4-50 lbs., forward facing toddlers 22-65lbs., and big kids 30-100lb.  We just transitioned our youngest (six years, 40lbs) into the high-back booster position, and he still has room to grow in this seat.  In addition to a ton of convenient features, (fuss free harness storage to tuck buckles away, dual cup-holders, straightforward LATCH system, and more) this car seat, most importantly, has a robust safety profile.  And it’s available at a great price point (MSRP $249.99).

Win It: We’re excited to giveaway a Graco Breaze Click Connect Stroller (MSRP $149.00) to one lucky reader! You’ll love the one-hand fold, sturdy and lightweight frame, extra-large UV50 protectant canopy, super-sized storage basket and more!

GracoBreazeClickConnect-StrollerThis stroller accepts all Graco Click Connect infant car seats and is suitable from birth up to 50lbs.  Enter via the rafflecopter below.  Best of luck and thanks for visiting.

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