Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Where to Find " American Girl " Style Boy Dolls...For Less Than Half the Price

First thing is first.  Lets all just get this concept out of the way.  Boys play with dolls.  Especially young boys.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Playing with dolls helps kids develop language and cognitive thinking skills, allows them to practice empathy, and can help them work through large emotions or social situations that they may feel more comfortable having the doll take on to express and explore.  Pretend play in general is also essential to the learning process for young children.  (Read more here, here, and here.)

My Sibling Doll
So now that we've firmly established that it is no longer 1956, lets move on to where you can find a high quality boy doll for your little boy or girl. To be honest, I was kind of surprised that it was so difficult for me to find a boy doll that wasn't an anatomically correct boy baby doll (and by the way, nothing wrong with that either. We all have body parts. ) I remember growing up playing with My Buddy (yes, My Buddy. Not Kid Sister) and knowing boys who also had a My Buddy doll.  He was a popular main stream doll marketed towards boys. In the 80's! I also remember Fisher Price's Loving Family Dollhouse being completely gender neutral.  So I thought, "We must've come a long way since then in terms of doll options for boys, right?"  Welp.  I was wrong.  As you may or may not know, the Loving Family Dollhouse has been various shades of pink and purple for quite some time now.  And My Buddy, sadly, no longer exists.  And he doesn't seem to have a mainstream, highly marketed replacement.  (Sad!)

During my search for available boy dolls, I had come across several blogs and articles about moms who had also felt my boy doll struggle, and decided to make their own boy dolls out of American Girl dolls or American Girl type generics.  I then started coming across Ebay listing for "American Boy Dolls."

Doll artists (and they are artists... I did eventually make my own boy doll out of a "well loved" AG doll just to see if I could. [I will write a post on that process soon]  It was not easy.) have found a niche market and are charging anywhere between $130-$160 for their custom made boy dolls.  Too much mullah for me... so I started looking at the AG generic type dolls: Hoping to turn them into a more affordable boy doll.  The dolls I was looking at run anywhere from $27- $40.  (Though I did recently find AG style girl dolls at Michael's for $21.)  I started calculating costs in my head.  I would have to buy "boy" doll clothes off of Etsy or Ebay.  Another $15 - $20.  I would have to also buy boy doll shoes.  Another $5 at least.  I would then have to learn how to remove the "makeup" look the girl dolls have without damaging the doll itself.  Plus buy whatever supplies/ tools that entailed.  I started getting frustrated.  Why couldn't I just buy an affordable boy doll? Why was this becoming so complicated?

Same doll. Rooted hair = Safe
to style
I kept thinking, "There has to be something.  Maybe not something as well known as American Girls.  But something!"  Thanks to a search on Facebook and a random public post by a woman I don't know (I wish I could find it again so I could thank her!) I found My Sibling Dolls.  Cute "American Girl" style boy dolls priced at...$54.99 - $59.99.  I think I about jumped for joy.  I quickly ordered my son's doll (super late at night by the way) and went to bed.  The doll shipped a couple of days later and was at my house within the week.

He is adorable, durable, and a great value. I love his rooted hair (no wig here) and cute expression.  He's completely posable with a soft body and sleep shut eyes.  But wait.  It gets better.  Not only did I get a well made boy doll and fast shipping... I also ended up supporting a great cause by purchasing the doll.

Loretta, the woman who owns and created My Sibling Dolls, uses her business to help raise awareness about the lack of services and resources there are for adults and teens with autism and other developmental disabilities.   She also has expanded My Sibling Dolls in order to create a work experience program for adults and teens with disabilities.  Because of Loretta and purchases made through My Sibling dolls, adults and teens are able to gain real life work experience through dressing, packaging, and accessorizing dolls.  

So in the end, I felt that not only had I dug through the internet and found this wonderful hidden gem, but I was also helping to create opportunities for others.  Visit My Sibling Dolls to learn more or to purchase your very own boy doll.  And help spread the word to ease the frustrations of the boy doll struggle and support a company with a terrific purpose. 




Thursday, March 17, 2016

Celebrate Ravioli Day ( 03/20/2016 ) with BRAVO! Cucina Italiana

From top: Cheese Ravioli & Insalata,
Braised Beef Ravioli,
Lobster Ravioli Alla Vodka
Pasta.  It's universally delicious, right? Who doesn't like the warm, cheesy, comforting goodness of ravioli?  Exactly.  So why not celebrate Ravioli Day (which is officially March 20th) this weekend? And if you're looking for somewhere to celebrate, I highly recommend BRAVO! Cucina Italiana.  They have all of your ravioli needs covered with the Crispy Mozzarella Ravioli Appetizer and three ravioli entrees!

One of the best parts of choosing BRAVO as the venue for your ravioli party (besides the tasty food, of course) is that the three ravioli entrees are HALF OFF from March 20th-23rd!  Seriously fresh and delicious food for low, low prices? Yes, please.

Chef Brittany's Cannoli
Crumble
The three ravioli entrees are the Cheese Ravioli & InsalataBraised Beef Ravioli, and Lobster Ravioli Alla Vodka.  Out of the three, I have to declare the Braised Beef Ravioli as my favorite.  I loved the combination of the sweet potatoes, beef, and champagne and brown butter sauce.  It was a refreshing take on ravioli with a lighter feel.  Its also the perfect ravioli solution to those who prefer to steer clear of the heavier red and cream sauces.

If you're the type to indulge (especially when celebrating,) BRAVO! also has a fabulous dessert menu with everything from Warm Chocolate Cake to (what I indulged in) Chef Brittany's Cannoli Crumble. Don't forget the Cappuccino!


This post is sponsored.  The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Time for a Little Inspiration with The Pablove Foundation

Every once in a while I like to take a step back and do a post on people and organizations who inspire.  Those who do good in the world.  Those who take something tragic and choose to make something beautiful out of it.

Jeff  Castelaz and Jo Ann Thraikill did just that.  After their son Pablo passed away from bilateral Wilms Tumor (a rare form of childhood cancer) at just 6 years old, Jeff and Jo Ann decided to create a way to fight childhood cancer while raising awareness. The Pablove Foundation has since raised over $1 million dollars towards research grants at 16 institutions worldwide.  These grants help fund new, innovative childhood cancer research that aims to not only increase surviorship, but also decrease complications. The Pablove Foundation also offers programs aimed at inspiring cancer families and improving the lives of children living with cancer through education and the arts.




Go to http://www.pablove.org/ to find out how you can get involved and inspire others while helping this wonderful cause.

If you are in/near the Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay, New York, New Orleans, or Austin areas the following events and programs are being hosted by Pablove.

Los Angeles

Shutterbugs 8 Week Program:  Saturdays, February 27 – April 16, 2016

Shutterbugs Alumni Summer Camp: Wednesday, June 15 – Friday, June 17, 2016

4th Annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Golf Tournament: Friday, May 6th

2nd Annual Pablove Tennis Classic presented by WME: Sunday, May 15th

San Francisco Bay Area

Shutterbugs 5 week program: Saturdays, April 23 – May 21, 2016

Pablove Across America: Sunday, October 2
 

New York

Shutterbugs 5 week program: Saturdays, April 9 – May 7, 2016

New York Bowling Night: Tuesday, May 10th

New Orleans

Shutterbugs 5 week program: Saturdays, April 16 – May 14, 2016


Austin

Shutterbugs 5 week program: Saturdays, April 30 – May 28, 2016