One Like Me! – Dolls and Diversity

One of the first toys a girl will own will most likely be a doll. In the past that doll would, in all likelihood be light-skinned, blue-eyed and perfectly proportioned.

Thankfully today, more and more toy manufacturers are diversifying their doll options to reflect society’s diverse populations.

If you follow any of our social media channels, you’ll know we are huge fans of the Our Generation Doll brand. One of the biggest reasons is that Our Generation understands the need for diverse dolls that represent all girls. The OG range includes dolls of color, dolls of different ethic backgrounds, dolls with disabilities, dolls with different eye color, hair texture and skin complexion. There are both girl and boy dolls available.

There is so much more at stake in the toy aisle than we realize. Our Generation knows that dolls are one of the first and most common toys that children will have, so in turn will provide a great deal of play and learning potential.

There is a huge scope for dolls to help children- from a very early age – to negotiate their racial identity, form a healthy self image and a well-rounded world view.

This is particularly important for me, as a mom raising mixed-race daughters in the cultural melting pot of South Africa.

Children of all races need to see themselves represented in a positive light. And because a child’s identity becomes so wrapped up in their doll, representation has never been more important.

When a parent gives a child a doll that looks like her, they’re saying: ‘There are people like you in the world. You matter just as much as anyone else.’

And Our Generation is taking this empowering message even further with their career dolls. Girls can be anything, and everything they want to be. Astronaut, Pilot, Vet, Doctor… the OG range has it all.

So when a brand commits to building a generation of strong, fearless girls, with limitless potential, you can be sure it’s a brand I will support time and time again. Thank you Our Generation for empowering our girls through your diverse and accomplished range of dolls.

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Toddler Friendly Flights – Emirates Airlines

We recently traveled return on Emirates airlines from SA to Europe (including stopovers at Dubai) with twin 4-year olds.

We chose Emirates airlines as they fly directly out of Durban, and they have excellent perks for little travelers.

Here are some of my favorite things about Emirates when traveling with toddlers:

1. Kid Friendly Meals

Children’s meals are served first, so parents can usually aid their little ones with their meals before their own arrive.

The kids meals are lovely! The girls had Mac and cheese, roast chicken and mash and spaghetti bolognaise (all served with a side of veggies). They were served chocolate cake with sprinkles for dessert and waffles and chocolate sauce for breakfast. They had crackers and cheese, individually packaged cereals, and chocolate bars and strawberry milkshakes. The girls were well fed on our flights, and although they didn’t eat everything, I did not have to worry about them going hungry.

2. Kids Toys and Activities

Emirates is extremely kid-friendly. Little travelers get a blanket and collectible plush animal. Older children get an activity pack in a sling bag that includes puzzles and coloring.

On some flights the girls got little backpacks with an activity book that included stickers and color pencils.

They really enjoyed their blankets and plush toys. They still use them even today.

Our haul from just 4 flights
Lovely bag with a ton of activities
What’s inside
A furry backpack with sticker games

3. Kids Entertainment

There’s an endless supply of entertainment available for children on the Emirates play on demand ICE entertainment system. From puzzles to video games, coloring to cartoons, the screen provides unlimited entertainment for children. There’s a beautiful collection of family movies, including Disney classics, and a long list of children’s popular series and songs. Long haul flights are definitely not the time to be limiting screen time.

4. Cool rewards program

The Emirates Skywards Skysurfer program rewards its young travelers in much the way typical airline loyalty programs do. But there are additional perks for kids, such as guaranteed window seats and points that can be redeemed for toys and gadgets on the Emirates online shop.

5. Families come first

Emirates is one of the few airlines that still allow passengers traveling with young kids to board first. It is such a relief to get out of those long lines, get seated, set them up with their entertainment and catch our breath while the rest of the plane boards. On long haul flights the boarding process can take up to an hour. Imagine standing in a line with a crabby toddler for that long?!

For some the stopover in Dubai might be off putting, but I really enjoyed the break in a otherwise long trip. I appreciated being able to get off the plane, walk around and use regular-sized bathrooms! I think it also created a good opportunity for the girls to overcome any “cabin fever” that may have started to set in.

I highly recommend Emirates for family-Friendly travel, and I’ll be hard pressed to choose otherwise when we travel again.

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Top 5 Airplane Activities for Toddlers

 

We recently flew from Durban to Europe – two long haul flights – with twin toddlers.

To say I was having sleepless nights prior to the trip is an understatement. You see, prior to having my own kids, I was extremely intolerant with children on flights. I was the mean woman staring you down if your baby would not quiet, and the one tutting at parents whose toddlers threw tantrums.

I judged frazzled, overwhelmed parents without a shred of mercy… so I was convinced that my karma would come back to bite me in the rear. I imagined one (or both of my girls throwing epic tantrums onboard) and a million eyes staring me down with accusatory judgement. I mean, I would deserve it, right?

Since having kids, it’s clear that those parents were not out to get me when their kids cried on my flights. It wasn’t about me at all. It was about toddlers who were bored mindless because they’re not made to sit still for 8 hours at a time. It’s about little babies who’s ears are painfully adjusting to the altitude differences. I know that now, and am able to empathize – something I wasn’t able to do before.

But since I was convinced my kids would be monsters on the plane, I did a ton of research into activities that would keep them busy on the long haul flights.

I can highly recommend the following, bearing in mind that my children are four years old.

  1. Melissa and Doug Water Wow books

This was a standout winner for us. This exciting paint-with-water coloring book includes four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. Simply use the pen to color in each scene–details and vibrant color appear with every stroke! Magic! The girls played with these books for hours on the flights, and they’re still not bored of them months later!

  1. Play Doh

A universal favorite with kids of all ages, we packed a few cans of Play-Doh in the girls backpacks for in case of emergency (aka meltdowns). It is the perfect quiet-time activity and kept their attention just when the flights were starting to feel endless. I didn’t take any cutters/accessories, worrying the girls would lose them, but in hindsight, I should have carried a few to keep them engaged for longer.

  1. Dot to Dot Coloring Books and crayons

I bought inexpensive dot-to-dot coloring books for the girls, along with a pack of crayons each. Emirates Airlines provides a cute activity book for kids as well. We pulled this out when the girls started getting antsy about sitting in one place for over 6 hours. Since they were newly introduced to the dot-to-dot concept, the found it very entertaining.

  1. Melissa and Doug Puffy Stickers

I would recommend this for children who are slightly older (above 5, I think). These reusable stickers come with a folding board scene that can open up to create a playmate for the stickers. You can find different scenes such as Vehicles, Town, Safari and Riding Club. I bought the Fairy and Mermaid ones for the girls. I would recommend it for older kids as I found my girls didn’t fully grasp the concept of creating a “story” with the stickers, and rather stick them on the tray table!

  1. Wrapped surprises

I read this tip on numerous blogs, and it works! Wrap a few inexpensive toys in gift wrap, and present it to the child who’s extremely bored/on the verge of a tantrum. The excitement of opening a ‘present’ will instantly transform their mood and grab their attention. I bought 2-3 cheap toys from the Crazy Store and wrapped them up before the trip. I only had to use this tactic once, but it really does work!

Like I said, I was worried sick about their behavior on the long flights, so I prepared in earnest. You could use just one of these tips -or all- depending on your level of OCD!

If you’ve flown long-haul with little kids before, let me know what’s worked for you!

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Disney on Ice 2019: Magical Ice Festival

As someone who loves the magic of Disney, I’ve been to Disney on Ice a couple of times before, but this year was only the second time the Twincesses have been to the show.

Magical Ice Festival is the latest offering from Disney on Ice and it takes us through four Disney stories:

• The Little Mermaid

• Rapunzel

• Beauty and the Beast

• Frozen

The first three are easily my top favorite Disney Classic movies, so I was in for a real treat… however the show lacked the variety I had seen in previous years. Rather than provide the favorite snippets from a wide selection of Disney movies, this year’s show focused on the complete stories of Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle and the Arendelle sisters, giving us several songs from each movie as it followed their story is it’s (almost) entirety.

Again, I loved the show as is was a selection of my favorite movies, so I got to enjoy songs that aren’t usually part of the Disney on Ice setlist such as “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled and “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast.

Moms of little boys may have left feeling a little dissatisfied, as the show was hugely “Princess” orientated and there was no songs/ storylines from any other Disney movies except those four listed above.

The hosts were Mickey and Minnie, who brought along beloved friends Donald Duck and Goofy. We did get to see Cinderella’s stepsisters singing a tune, but not Cinderella herself.

The crowd went crazy for the Frozen portion of the show, cementing the fact that Disney’s modern princesses appeal to the younger generation. Personally, I would have loved to see some Moana in this year’s line up… not only is she my favorite modern Disney story, but it would have also injected some diversity into the show. And really, how amazing are the songs from Moana? Disney here’s a tip: Get Moana in your lineup! You’re welcome.

The usual snack selection was on sale, but I have to admit the prices are steep. Parents should budget around R200-R350 per child for Disney branded snacks alone. The Disney slushies in mugs are approximately R170 and candy floss (which comes with either a plastic crown or Olaf hat) is R120.

Popcorn in a small Disney box was the most economical snack at R30, while the popcorn in Disney branded bags are R120.

So yeah, not cheap, but many parents had budgeted for snacks from past experience, or simply because it was a once-off treat.

There’s also a wide variety of Disney merchandise available to purchase, but having just spoiled the girls with toys at Disneyland Paris, I quickly ushered them past the toy vendors before they could mutter “I want”…

To be honest the merchandise is grossly overpriced, seeing as they are imported items usually not available for sale in SA outside of the event. Light up wands cost R320 and plush dolls were around the same price.

My one main gripe though was the inconsideration shown by people who arrived late, or walked about during the show. Come on people… that’s really not on!

We were seated next to a mom who thought it was ok to let her two-year old run around in front of the stage (appearing in several of my photographs) and then frequently ran after him while he howled in protest… talk about a distraction from the main event.

If you bring really young children to the show, it’s only fair that you take them outside if they start to fuss/scream so as not to disturb other people who’ve paid a lot of money to enjoy the show. It’s for this reason I waited until the girls were well over three years old before I took them to Disney on Ice.

All in all, it was a beautiful show, beautiful costumes and amazing choreography. I enjoyed my all-time Disney favorites with my two favorite girls and couldn’t really have asked for more. Thank you for always bringing the magic, Disney!

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Review: LOL Surprise Dolls

I have heard about the LOL Surprise craze sweeping the nation, but never really understood what all the fuss was about.

Then we received some of the latest LOL Surprise Doll items to review and I saw the sheer joy and excitement on my kids faces!

For those who aren’t in the know, the LOL Surprise Dolls are little dolls that come wrapped inside a surprise toy ball. Each ball has different layers that contain stickers, secret messages, mix and match accessories until finally- you unwrap the doll. You don’t know which doll you’re getting until you get to the last layer. The fun lies in unwrapping and discovering the surprises along the way, and in collecting all the dolls in the series.

The LOL Surprise Under Wraps is the latest offering that includes 15 surprises! The girls used their spy glass to unlock secret codes which finally revealed their doll.

The LOL Surprise Bling Series is a limited edition series with extra bling for your buck! With 7 glittery surprises, the girls finally revealed their super sparkly doll who I’m told is called Pranksta. Kitted our in pink and turquoise I must admit she is one of the cutest LOL dolls I’ve seen.

We also received the LOL Surprise Lil Sisters ball and the LOL Surprise Fashion Crush. Lil sisters is also a collectible series with a – you guessed it – little sister for your LOL doll and an accompanying handbag. The Fashion Crush ball had a new outfit and other accessories hidden under layers of jelly!

As a parent I can certainly understand the excitement around the LOL Surprise concept. The unwrapping, the surprises, the need to complete a collection… it has all the elements of a successful toy series. There is however a huge amount of plastic waste that is generated in the unwrapping process, and in an effort to be more earth-conscience perhaps the creators of the LOL Surprise Dolls should look into using more recyclable options in the products.

I am quite surprised to say that a week later, the girls are still very into their LOL Dolls. They carry them around in the Under Wraps case and create little stories as they play. I would have expected them to be bored of the little dolls by now, but I suspect the unwrapping process gives them a sense of ownership that has allowed them to be a little more invested in their dolls.

With that, I can safely say: the LOL Surprise craze is here to stay.

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Review: Little Tikes Music Series

We always knew that music would be an important part of our children’s lives as they grow up. We encourage music classes at school, expose them to a wide range of musical choices and ensure they get to go to local music shows at least once a month.

Which is why we were so thrilled to receive some of the Little Tikes musical instruments to review.

The Tap-a-Tune Xylophone is perfect for letting your child explore sound and movement. It’s even suited to smaller kids as the design is chunky and sturdy with a tough plastic backing that will withstand most knocks and falls. The Little Tikes Xylophone would make a great toy for OTs as it improves hand/eye coordination and boosts fine motor skills.

Older toddlers will also love this instrument, as they are introduced to different musical notes, pitch and rhythm. The Twincesses love banging out a tune on their xylophones and the bright colors and flawless design is irresistible.

What’s more, it comes with wheels and a carry-handle, and the mallet is attached by cord (short, so minimises hazards) so it’s easy to take along wherever they go.

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We also received the Pop Tunes Keyboard which is such a hit with my girls. I don’t know if it’s the light up keys, or the pre-loaded songs which they sing along to, but the love it!

It’s obvious from the video below that they still need extensive lessons… lol, but just the fact that they are being introduced to music and notes at an early age makes me happy.

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The Little Tikes keyboard comes with fully functioning major and minor keys and the volume button doubles as the power button so it’s pretty simple to use, and easy to start playing right out the box. Again, the material is study and durable, which means it’s built to last.

These Little Tikes musical instruments would make perfect birthday gifts, or a special gift for parents wanting their child to be more exposed to music and the joy and wonder it brings.

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Review: Our Generation Dolls

There is something to be said about empowering girls. And that’s exactly what Our Generation is on a mission to do.

They believe we are raising an extraordinary generation of girls, each different and each with a unique story to tell.

An Our Generation Doll is more than just another doll for girls to play with. They are dolls that inspire girls to be who they want to be, giving girls their own unique voice, in a generation where there are increasing pressures for girls to be a certain way.

I love the ethos behind this brand, and as a mother of two little girls myself, I cannot be happier about the message they are promoting!

It helps too, that the products themselves are flawlessly made and of the highest quality. We took the girls to Toyzone and let them pick out their favorite doll. Fair warning, the choice is extensive! There’s a doll for every little girl out there, something about the dolls character or unique clothes that will speak directly to her.

In the end Harper chose Alexa because the ballerina doll resonated with her. Avalon went for Holiday Hope, loving the carefree, spirited clothing choice that was girly yet bold.

The dolls are beautiful! Standing at over 45cm tall, they make the ideal companion for the Twincesses. They have the softest, almost life-like hair, which I find doesn’t get into tangles and knots as much as other dolls do.

They have fully moveable arms and legs which make changing their clothes fun and easy. Speaking of clothes, the outfit accessories are almost as abundant as the doll choices! There’s everything you could ever imagine, clothes for parties, specific careers, horse-riding, swimming, sleeping… the range is extensive!

The accessories include cars and scooters, home playsets, and a selection of horses and equestrian products.

We got the girls the Dream Bunk Beds which is a beautiful addition to their room. Fully kitted out with mattresses, duvets and pillows, the bed is easy to install and comfortably fits both dolls. You can often find Alexa and Hope tucked in and fast asleep while the girls are in school.

I find that because they’re able to dress their dolls up differently, and have various different accessory options, the girls don’t get bored with their OG dolls. They can spend hours playing independently, inventing different scenarios and letting their imagination run wild.

Definitely an investment in imaginative play!

We just love the Our Generation brand. We love what the brand represents and we love the quality of the products. I would highly recommend these dolls as an investment into your child’s development and imagination. After all, an extraordinary generation of girls deserves an extraordinary generation of dolls.

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Review: Baby Born Doll

Baby Born dolls was introduced to the market in 1991 and since then more than 22 million have been sold! Prima Toys gifted the Twincesses with their own Baby Born dolls and it’s easy to see why they are so popular.

The quality of the dolls are outstanding. The new soft-touch body feels supple, adds a greater dimension of realness, and makes you want to cuddle the doll even more. 

The dolls are 43cm in length which makes them perfect for even the littlest of toddlers. There’s options of boy or girl dolls as well as a doll with a darker skin tone. There’s even a choice of an older sister or brother doll.

The Baby Born dolls come with a full range of accessories including a potty, pacifier, nappies, baby food, bottles, bowl and spoon.

But perhaps what makes them so very unique is the 9 life-like functions that all work WITHOUT batteries. Yep, you heard that correctly – no batteries required!

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So let’s run through the functions the Baby Born doll can perform:

 She can sleep. The dolls eyes automatically close when the baby is laid down.
 She can move. The dolls arms and legs bend and move easily allowing for painless dressing and undressing.
 She can drink. Baby Born dolls come with an adapted bottle from which they can drink water. The Twincesses love to pop the bottle into their dolls’ mouths to feed them.

 

 She can wet her nappy. Whilst actual parents may loathe the nappy-changing regime, the Twincesses eagerly await a chance to change their baby’s nappies.
 She can wee. By pressing on the doll’s belly button, she can make a wee on her potty.

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 She can eat. I think this function sets the Baby Born range apart from other drink-and-wet dolls. The Baby Born dolls comes with sachets of baby porridge that is specially adapted to the range.
 She poops. What goes in must come out, right? A press on the intuitive belly button and the baby porridge is dispelled into the potty, much to the delight of my toddlers.
 She can cry. Real tears! A simple press on the upper chest made tears flow liberally from her eyes. This was the winner for my girls…as you can see in the video below. 

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 She is fully bathable. The doll can be completely immersed in water, so your little one doesn’t have to part with her best friend when she takes a bath. 

The Baby Born dolls provide hours and hours of fun for my girls. They adore giving their dolls a leisurely bath, which has been the perfect activity for this scorching summer days. 

They take so much delight in the doll’s bodily functions (should I be worried? Lol) On another note, if your toddler isn’t yet potty-trained the Baby Born doll in my opinion would make the perfect companion for your little one during this dreaded phase. Children learn by example after all.

The doll comes with cleaning instructions, so you don’t have to worry about mould build-up or clogging the functioning parts.

With special added touches like their very own birth certificate and matching friendship bracelets for both the doll and your toddler, the Baby Born dolls have thought if literally everything.

The quality is immaculate, so I can safely say this doll will be around for ages, and since it has been consistently holding my children’s attention this past week, I doubt it will be relegated to the bottom of the toybox anytime soon.

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Top Ten Toys- Twincess Tested (Part 10: Scruff a Luvs)

It’s the last Friday before Christmas! That means it’s the final post in our Top Ten Toys series. For this last post, we’re deviating slightly in that the toy isn’t yet Twincess Tested. It will be, in 4 days time as I have two of these patiently waiting under the Christmas tree.

Ever since a fellow blogger’s Facebook post went viral, I’ve been intrigued by Scruff a Luvs.

Inside the colorful box lies an animal that is matted and “ugly”, and with a bit of TLC this animal cleans up to reveal a puppy, kitten or bunny that just wants to shower you with love forever.

Quite simply, the concept is something that resonates very strongly with me (and I’m sure most parents will agree). Teaching a child to rescue rather than shop, to look beyond the appearance to what lies underneath… are all wonderful qualities that every child should posses.

The best part is that you are teaching a child that just a little love and care goes a long way and when it comes to rescue animals, will be reciprocated with loyalty and love.

And this lesson is well learned as it comes across while “doing” instead of just getting a lecture about rescuing animals. Kids are immersed in the extreme makeover from start to finish.

I’m in love with the idea of this toy. I can’t wait for the girls to open it on Christmas morning and see their reactions! I’ll be sure to capture and share.

Merry Christmas to all my followers and readers. Thank you so much for supporting our humble online space this year! May your festive season be happy and blessed xx

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Top Ten Toys – Twincess Tested (Part 9: LEGO Duplo)

I don’t know a single child that doesn’t love building LEGO. My kids are no exception. Earlier this year I bought them their first LEGO Duplo set after being drawn to the bright colours and large blocks in store.

For those who may not be familiar, Duplo is a brand of LEGO that is specifically designed for preschoolers (1-5 years). Duplo bricks are twice the length, height and width of traditional Lego bricks, making them easier to handle and less likely to be swallowed by younger children. But despite their size, they are still compatible with traditional Lego so your kids are still able to continue enjoying them as they grow older.

I picked up the Duplo number train as the girls were busy learning numbers at the beginning of the year. They really enjoy playing with this set and manipulating the blocks in different ways to achieve different results.

And because LEGO is such a fantastic toy to improve fine motor skills, problem solving techniques and lateral thinking, Santa has bought the girls two new big boxes of LEGO Duplo for Christmas this year.

First up, they will receive the Duplo My Town series which contains sets from popular “city” places such as the airport, office, park, pizzeria etc.

Additionally I also bought them a big box of blocks to ensure their imaginations are never limited.

I’m pretty sure the girls are going to be thrilled with their LEGO Duplo presents.

If you have a fidgety toddler on your hands, I’d urge you to grab a box of Duplo from your nearest toy store. It’s bound to keep them interested and engaged for hours on end!

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