Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hearts For Hearts Girls Review

Changing the World One Heart at a Time!

That is the goal of the new Hearts For Hearts Girls doll line and fashion collection from Playmates Toys. The collection features six dolls from around the world, each with an inspiring story to share.


The authentically dressed and lifelike dolls each represent a girl who is working to change her community in ways that are unique to her home country. Included with each doll are a friendship bracelet and a story booklet that explains how these multicultural girls live and contribute to their families, communities, and culture. Each doll also comes with a special code that unlocks a free membership to the kid-safe Hearts For Hearts Girls website, which features:

  • Additional information about each of the Hearts For Hearts Girls and the countries in which they live
  • Educational activities and lively games that are fun and rich in culture
  • Intriguing stories about real girls who are making a difference

While all girls are welcome to visit the site, the code unlocks access to additional features, including a larger array of games and a “myHeart” page

Additionally, through a partnership with World Vision3, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each Hearts For Hearts Girls doll is donated to programs that support girls in that doll’s country. Whether it’s malaria nets in Africa, schoolbooks in Asia, or food supplies in the United States, these programs help girls to thrive and succeed.


Help to make a difference one doll at a time by being among the first to preview a doll from the Hearts For Hearts Girls line before they are available in retailers this fall!  You can visit Heart For Hearts Girls and enter the coupon code “DUXNT4S1” to receive $3.00 towards the purchase of a Hearts for Hearts Girl doll today!


We received Nahji who hails from Assam, India. Brave Nahji breaks tradition to bring courage and education to the girls who work in the tea fields of India.  We enjoyed reading the book about her and playing the duck herding game on the website.  The doll is well made and very detailed.   From reading the story my daughter explained some of the things about her to her sister.  We love learning about different cultures through play.

Disclosure: The Hearts For Hearts Girls doll, information, and coupon have been provided by Playmates Toys through MyBlogSpark.

Is there a little girl in your life that would like to learn about another culture with her very own doll?

Funny with Grandpa Don on the Pizza Train

This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday.  Because really, who needs commentary on the pizza train??

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cascade Falls in Oseola, WI

On our way back from the Spooner Pizza train we stopped in Oseola, WI to see the waterfall recommended to us by friends.   Cascade Falls is right off the highway, so after a quick stop to browse the antique store that we parked in front of, we were descending to the falls.  There was 100 or so steps down to this beautiful gem.......

If it were sunny out and we had brought our bathing suits we could have spent a hour or two exploring.  Definitely worth the trip!  There is some great exploring to be had.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Pizza Train! Spooner, WI...Finally!

I mentioned going on a pizza train to Little Bit weeks before we left for Minnesota and she has been talking about it ever since.  She told everyone about her trip to MN to go on the pizza train.  I didn't realize it was 2 hours away or I wouldn't have even mentioned it.  BUT since it HAD to be on the agenda, we made our reservations and headed out. 

It is in the small town of Spooner, WI.  Two hours in the car is no big deal for our kids so the ride up wasn't bad. 

The train was nice, pizza was good, and the kids had a great time.  The scenery was nice as soon as we got out of town.  It went an hour up and an hour back.  On our way back we stopped at a waterfall that was beautiful.  All in all it was a nice way to spend the day!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mimi's 6th Birthday Wish

I wish I could spend my birthday at The Mall of America......

Meeting cartoon characters...... 

Riding the Diego Adventure Bus......

 Smashing some bumper cars.....

Taking mom on this crazy coaster that would make her woozy.....

Eating a HUGE tub of popcorn.....

Browsing in the American Girl store.....

And, of course, taking a reading break at Barnes and Noble.
Perfectly fun day for turning 6!

Water Park of America

Water Park of America is located right across the street from Mall of America.  It is completely indoors, which was beneficial in this 50 degree "summer" weather.
 They had several huge tube slides and body slides.  The family raft slide was at the very top.

A nice big wave pool.

The boogie board/surfing pool - Crazy how fast the water comes out of there.  Emma was the only one of us (above) that was brave enough for that one!

A little kids area that Little Bit loved.  There was an "incident" that caused it to be closed for about an hour but there was plenty to do without it.

 The lazy river, complete with drenching waterfalls, ran right through the wave pool, which made it not-so-lazy during that part of the ride. 

We got there early so didn't have to wait in lines at the start.  The lines got longer as the day went on (only lines for the tube slides, not much for the body slides).  We all give Water Park of America two thumbs up and will be visiting the next time we come to Minnesota!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

General Mills Photography Studio

When I was at General Mills World Headquarters for the Box Tops University, they gave us a behind the scenes tour of their photography studios.  What a cool look at how it all happens.  They have several kitchens, each a different style.  They are all set up like residential kitchens (I wish) and when they make the products for the photo session this where they are prepared, so that they are using the same tools that the consumer would use. 

There were several carts set up for upcoming shoots where the dishes and accessories are selected and prepped by a food stylist.

What a fun job that would be!  Such great detail is put into each shoot.

The prop rooms are amazing.  A ton of whatever you need in a variety of different colors.  I should have taken more pictures because it's fun to see the huge variety they have to choose from.  I love color, so the endless shelves of colorful dishes had me drooling.  Everything is sorted by item and then by color.  Beautiful.

A cupcake shoot was taking place and they must have taken hundreds of pictures of these little guys.  I wish I knew more about photography.  I would someday like to graduate from my little point and shoot camera.  It's such a fun art!

Thank you to General Mills for providing my travel and lodging accommodations!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Ain't Scared of No Fish

My girls LOVE fishing and this year were finally patient with the whole processes.  That means they could fish for more than 20 minutes even without catching anything.  

At the cabin we had plenty of time for fishing and Little Bit had plenty of opportunities to kiss fish lips (which she did, ewww).  

Even though they don't mind touching the fish, they still give great girly screams when the fish falls in the boat or on the dock and flops around a bit before we can get them back into the water.  As you can see, these were not keepers :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Box Tops University Recap

First and foremost, I have to thank General Mills for inviting me to this event, providing travel and lodging accommodations and giving us bloggers a behind the scenes kind of event. We got to talk directly to the people who work on the Box Tops for Education program and what great insight to hear the thoughts about the program from them directly. It was especially interesting to me being the box tops coordinator for my school.

There was an idea wall where coordinators from around the country shared ideas on how to collect box tops and shared the projects that were funded by the money raised. The General Mills people said time and time again that even though they put together the program, the only reason why it is so successful is the passion of the school coordinators. After reading idea after idea, you really get the power behind it and the drive they bring.

Schools are funding classroom supplies, art supplies, field trips, playground equipment (this is what we used ours for last year), books and all kinds of projects. These are usually things that get cut when the budget drops. Here is one great idea that would really convince the teachers to push it. Can't go wrong putting it directly back into the classrooms!

Last year $59 million dollars was raised. That is a lot of supplemental income for schools! The thing that makes me really stand behind the program is that parents are not forced to buy all kinds of stuff they really don't want or need at outlandish prices (think wrapping paper and tubs of cookie dough). They just need to spend the extra 20 seconds to cut a box top out of a product they already buy before throwing the package in the trash.

We earned $1,594 last year with a school of just under 700 students. Yay for the parents, students and teachers that make the program happen!! One school consistently earns over $20,000 each year. Wow!! That is a ton of box tops!

As a coordinator, the thing I hear from parents most often is, "I don't buy any of THAT kind of food." And I agree, many of the products are highly processed convenience foods, BUT there are many non food items that you most likely do have in your house. Kleenex, Ziplock, Hefty, Avery, Boise paper, Britta, Cottonelle....come on, if you just looked through the ever growing list of participating products I bet you could find something. I also addressed this while talking with the General Mills folks and they hear this loud and clear and are constantly seeking out companies with nonfood products that fit with the program.

Some interesting facts on the box tops collected....

  • Someone really does look at each and every box top submitted to check that they are valid.

  • During the peek season (right before submission deadlines) they receive 5 semi trucks EACH DAY full of box tops.

  • The redeemed box tops are incinerated, which turns into wind power and provides electricity for local homes in Minnesota.

This year Hanes became a partner as well. It is a program that runs a little differently than the normal clip and redeem. If you school orders Hanes t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. from your local screen printing place, you send in the invoice and receive box tops vouchers that way. Most schools have school t-shirts made so this is a natural fit.

After the presentations there was a product expo where we got to meet with people from all of the companies that are a part of the program. My goodness, there was SO MUCH stuff given out. They also had a parting gift bag that is being sent to my home (most of the other bloggers flew in so would have no way of getting the ginormous bag home). I have bags and bags of things (that have box tops, of course, so I get a head start on my collections for next year).

And then there was this.....

The box tops money machine. This is a dream come true for school coordinators :) I grabbed 300 bonus box tops while in there. WooHoo. Can't beat that.

I am not surprised that the program is so successful and would not be surprised if it continues to grow exponentially. It is well run, well received, and most importantly, puts money right where we need it, in our schools.

So what do you think? Are you ready to make a difference? Ask me if you need help getting started. I would be happy to help!

(and if you have box tops and nowhere to take them I would be happy to take them off your hands :)