MyChronicleBooks: Personalized Books for Children

Are you running out of unique ideas on what to give your child for an upcoming birthday or holiday? Are you looking for the perfect gift for a special child in your life or maybe you’re on a quest to find an affordable gift that a child will treasure forever?

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Meet MyChronicleBooks, a publishing company originally founded in San Francisco in 1967. Twenty years later, the company launched its first children’s list and today, it publishes over 300 books, stationary and journals each year. However, this company does more than simply publish books. MyChronicleBooks also offers complete personalization providing you and your child a wonderful reading experience. The company states:

ChronicleBooks_QuoteMyChronicleBooks carries a variety of children’s titles to choose from offering distinct personalization based on the unique characteristics of your child.

chroniclebooks_princessI chose to review Princess: The Day in the Life of a Princess  which presents a classic tale that every girl adores. The personalization process allows your daughter (or special little girl in your life) to share in the majestic dream by incorporating her very own name, skin tone, hair color, photo, hometown, date of birth and favorite color throughout the entire story. Your little girl’s name will also be inserted onto the front cover (as seen in the photo to the left) and on pages throughout the story, making this unique princess book a one-of-kind treasure!  You can imagine the joy and excitement shown on the faces of little girls everywhere as they see their name and hometown printed in the book.

Do you have a special little boy in your life? Well, fear not – there are an array of titles to choose from that your son would adore – and of course, full personalization is available. Additionally, the company also offers a number of companion products based on the book themes that can be personalized for children as well.

Book1The fully personalized book process (which is so easy to navigate on the site) even allows you to upload your child’s photo to make the book even more individualized. You can also select options to incorporate additional unique elements throughout the story. I was also able to add in some personal text, sharing a special message with my daughter that was printed in the book. This added personalization is the perfect addition for any parent or loved one to give to a child as a gift – whether it’s celebrating a birthday, special occasion, or holiday, the possibilities are endless. These preferences made available through MyChronicle Books truly make this book a one-of-a-kind.

My daughter absolutely loved seeing her name in print and reading about her adventure as the main character in the story. What little girl wouldn’t love seeing herself as the princess in her very own princess book? It was a magical moment to watch my child read her name in print as she read the story for the very first time – and aren’t these the kind of moments we want to create for our kids? You can see for yourself the magic of MyChronicle Books in this short clip:

chroniclebooks_princessnotecardThis special book, coordinating growth chart and notecard by MyChronicleBooks are things my daughter will remember for a long time; they are special gifts that she will always keep and hopefully, share with her own child one day. It’s the kind of experience that is making a precious memory for her – and for me!

Shop MyChronicleBooks and the full line of companion products that coordinate perfectly with specially selected scenes from the original storybook. Some of these products include a personalized Placemat, Lunch Box, Growth Chart, Wall Art, Gift Cards and more!

***Theta Mom® readers receive 25% OFF all personalized items at MyChronicleBooks! Use discount code MYCB-SAVE25 at checkout. {Offer ends 7/31/14}

Join over 54,000 others and follow MyChronicleBooks on Twitter . You can also follow along with over 51,000 others on Facebook to stay updated on the latest promotions, news and information.

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided a personalized princess book, growth chart  and notecard via MyChronicleBooks for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced. 

Luxor Linens Review: A Leading Provider of Luxury Linens

If you’re a fellow Theta Mom® then you are constantly dreaming of getting a good night’s sleep. We know about the important things in life – like shopping for that perfect mattress, comfortable bedding and soft sheets. We also know you can’t really put a price tag on a well rested night’s sleep because while raising kids, that’s often hard to come by…unless you’re sleeping on sheets made by the purveyor of fine linens.

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Meet Luxor Linens – a leading provider of fine, luxurious linens. This brand provides linens to the finest hotels and homes around the world. The company offers an exclusive collection of world-class Egyptian cotton sheets, Egyptian cotton towels, and home accessories for the bed and bath. Most products can be customized as well including color preference and monogramming.

LuxorLinens_weddingWhether you’re looking to purchase an exclusive gift to give to a loved one for a special occasion or treat yourself to a brand new luxurious sheet set, Luxor Linens has many options to choose from. I especially love their monogramming service as this really gives the product a luxurious look and feel. Hanging monogrammed towels in a guest bathroom, for example, is such an easy way to add quality and style to any décor.

I reviewed the Valentino Egyptian Cotton Sheets from the Signature Collection. Here are the details about these luxury sheets (with many different colors and sizes to choose from) that contain one flat sheet, one fitted sheet and two matching pillow cases:

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  • 1200 Thread Count
  • 100% Egyptian Cotton
  • Machine wash and dry
  • Properly fits mattresses up to 19″
  • Fitted sheet features all around elastic band
  • Custom tailored upon request
  • Personalization available with Signature Monogramming service.

The Valentino sheet set arrived in a gorgeous black box with a satin ribbon. Inside, the Egyptian Cotton Sheets were wrapped in tissue paper stamped with the brand’s logo. Once I removed the lid and tissue paper, I was pleased with the presentation of this product including the monogramming on the pillow cases – but I was even more impressed when I ultimately slept on them for the first time!

LuxorLinensBOXI am a big believer in owning a white sheet set because I feel like no matter how many times white sheets get washed, the color never seems to fade. In my opinion, there’s nothing more clean and crisp than a properly fitted white sheet set. As I mentioned before, moms are always looking for a comfortable, good night’s sleep and although I can’t guarantee an uninterrupted sleep, I can tell you that these sheets are extremely soft and comfortable – and the monogramming gives it a real polished look.

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**Luxor Linens is offering a special discount to Theta Mom® readers! Enjoy a 25% discount on ANY order using the code: ThetaMomVIP at checkout. Shop the Valentino Sheet Set and the full line of Luxor Linens products.  Follow Luxor Linens on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest discount, news and information.

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided a Valentino Sheet Set via Luxor Linens for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced. 

GoldieBlox™ – Inspiring a Future Generation of Female Engineers

As a Theta Mom® of two, I am always trying to get my hands on innovative toys and the kind of technology that encourages creative thinking and problem solving. I am thrilled when I find products or toys that have been designed to introduce my children to something new – a chance for them to explore different concepts and ideas; the kind of company that is developing toys which provide strong educational value.

As you learned from my last post that Kids are Learning How to Code, it’s no surprise that kids (especially girls) are seriously tapping into their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. Well, move over boys. Girls are finally getting the chance to show the world what they’re made of. This has been made possible with the help of strong female leadership, those like the creator of an innovative toy company that is disrupting the pink aisle.

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Meet Debbie Sterling, the founder and CEO of GoldieBlox. Debbie grew up in a small town in Rhode Island and didn’t know about engineering until her senior year of high school. Four years later, she graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design from Stanford University. However, she was always concerned there were such few women in her program so she decided to do something about it. Debbie started a toy company that introduces girls to engineering at a young age.

Debbie spent a year researching gender differences to develop a construction toy that went deeper than simply changing the color or “making it pink” to appeal to girls like many other toy companies do. She interviewed numerous educators, neuroscientists, parents and STEM experts and also tested her prototype with over one hundred children. She realized that girls love reading and boys love building so she invented construction toys that would contain both of those elements, appealing to girls and making it fun.

Here is a short video of Debbie and her start-up story. If you are a mother of a young girl, you need to watch this video.

GoldieBlox2I began using GoldieBlox with my Kindergartener. I sat with her and we read the Dunk Tank story together. We then looked at the instructions and started to build step-by-step.

My daughter LOVES it. She definitely needed help building the structure, but after we did it several times together, she was confident to begin creating on her own. I saw the joy and excitement that beamed from her each time she placed the tools together to make her creation come to life. I also saw times when she was challenged – when something didn’t fit properly or when she needed to make adjustments. I watched her go back to the instructions to see where she needed to make changes to her design. All of this was happening and as a mother, I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce my young daughter to the kind of product that fosters a love for science, simple machines, and engineering. She’s already asking what we can build next!

GoldieBlox1Our young girls can be anything they want to be – and they are so much more than a princess as this company proclaims. Like the next mom, I also love pink and all things girlie but I know my daughter has so much more potential than to be another pretty face. Our girls are smart, innovative and strong – and this is the very message I want to instill in my daughter. GoldieBlox helps to cultivate that message. The main goal of this toy company is to get girls thinking and building, giving young inventors the tools they need to create amazing things.

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“In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math…and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox™ is determined to change the equation. By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers. We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way.” -GoldieBlox.com 

Need more inspiration? Check this video out for yourself. You’ll see the power of young girls hard at work. This is Your Brain on Engineering:

You can purchase the GoldieBlox Dunk Tank and also shop the full line of GoldieBlox products.  Follow GoldieBlox on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest GoldieBlox news and information.

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Lastly, don’t ever underestimate the power of girls – they are more than just a princess, they are smart and innovative with the kind of influence to change the world. And I am proud to say I am a mother of one of them.

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided a GoldieBlox™ Dunk Tank kit for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced. 

Kids are Learning How to Code

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” –Steve Jobs

Ever since I started this blog, one of the things I wish I knew how to do was learn how to code. I have seen many of my blogger friends do an amazing job at building their own sites. But, let’s think beyond blogging for a moment – think about how much we utilize technology daily. For many of us, we bank and pay our bills online. We shop online. We communicate online. We conduct business online. Think about the last time you put your mobile device down for more than 24 hours. Pretty impossible, right? That’s because whether you like it or not, rapidly evolving technology is our future. So the real question is, if we are so dependent on technology, how is it that so many of us don’t know how to code?

CODEorg_LogoPerhaps it starts with the fact that for most schools in America, this kind of learning is not being taught in the traditional classroom. When I was in high school, typing was a required course to graduate. In my opinion, the course requirement today should be that every student learns how to program a computer – a skill that is just as important as learning a foreign language these days. Regardless of the career path my children take, one thing is for sure – I will make it my mission that my kids learn how to code.

I was absolutely inspired by this five minute video created by the founders of Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to making computer science programs available in more schools and inspiring a generation of kids to participate in such programs.

“The vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer programming.”—Code.org

I sat down with my son to watch this video and within moments, he too was completely inspired by this mission. At eight years-old, he immediately saw the purpose for why learning to code is important and showed real interest in wanting to try.

Absolutely inspired by this video? Of course you are. Interested in getting your child to think about learning to code? Well, you’re certainly reading the right post.

Meet Tynker.

TynkerCodeTynker is one of the best web-based apps available today that offers interactive courses for children to learn programming at their own pace. Once you register with a simple email address, you’ll have lifetime access – anytime and anywhere to learn these crucial skills. Tynker makes it so easy to learn at home and even provides a full grade based curriculum for schools.

Tynker is a complete learning system with online courses that teach programming and computational thinking to kids of all ages. You don’t need to be an expert programmer to enroll in any of these courses. In fact, they are designed to teach kids at different skill levels and at all ages. You don’t have to have any coding experience to enroll because courses have been designed to motivate and inspire kids to bring their own creative ideas to life.

“Empower the next generation of innovators. What separates those who simply have an idea from those who make their ideas a reality is the ability to program. Kids relish the challenge to become creators.” — Tynker.com

TynkerMy son started the Introduction to Programming course and loves it. The courses are laid out with specific instructions and users are unable to advance to the next lesson until the previous lesson is successfully completed. There is a short quiz after each lesson to assess whether or not the user is ready to move forward. There are times when my son gets frustrated when the code doesn’t work the way he wanted it to, requiring him to go back, find the mistake and make necessary adjustments. As Steve Jobs would say, this is the kind of skill set that’s required to code – critical thinking and problem solving skills.

But the thing I love most about Tynker? There is absolutely nothing to install, download or upload to my computer. Once you login with an email address, you have full access to the course. It’s that easy!

The cost of the Introduction to Programming course is $50 for 16 lessons which users can do at their own pace. There is no time limit to perform each lesson and there is also no time restriction of when users can access the lessons. Basically, users can spread them out daily, weekly or even monthly. There is also an Intermediate Course offered that is more advanced at a price point of $30.

Tynker gives children a complete learning system for developing the kind of skill set (computational thinking and problem-solving skills) which are the fundamentals of 21st century jobs. They will absolutely need these skills in order to innovate and shape our future.

Computer programming is an incredibly empowering skill to learn. Follow Tynker on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest Tynker news and follow any of these hashtags for the latest tech news. #code #tech #programming #hourofcode #edtech #STEM

Have an iPad? Get the FREE Tynker app in the iTunes store.

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What are you waiting for? Programming is the new literacy, so join the nearly 7 million other Tynkerers and get Tynkering!!

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided an Introduction to Programming course via Tynker for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced. Furthermore, I am a proud supporter of code.org and firmly believe in the opinion expressed in this piece.

The Real Housewives Made Me Cry

I was watching some good ol’ reality television the other night. That’s right, I’m not afraid to admit that I love me some Real Housewives. Whether it’s Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Orange County, New Jersey or NYC, it’s pretty much a guarantee I’ll be watching.  Don’t judge, but after working hard all day (especially in the role of mom) I find small doses of delight following the drama surrounding these ladies. After watching just one hour of this show, it usually makes me appreciate my life because my own personal drama seems much less dramatic compared to theirs.

RealHousewives_BHlogoAnyway, on a recent episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I actually cried.

I know, cue the violins.

The really strange thing is this has never happened to me before. I watched countless episodes and have been a fan of The Real Housewives series for years. But, it really happened. I cried right there on my couch along with the two moms who were sending their babies off to college.

And for me, it was the ugly cry. You see, for one quick moment I pictured myself in their shoes.

I had images of dropping my babies off at their dorm room for the very last time and hugging them goodbye. I thought of the words I would want to say especially to my daughter, which kind of gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

But here’s the real takeaway here – these “Beverly Hills” moms just want the best for their kids. They want to see them thrive. They want them to be successful. They want them to be happy.

Regardless of the money in their bank account, the kind of car they drive, the home they live in or how many marriages they’ve gone through – at the end of the day, these women are moms just like you and me. They experience many of the same emotions because regardless of their lifestyle or economic status because they are moms.

And despite the drama they create for themselves (and the very public lives they live), at the core of their being they face the same kind of issues we face as mothers. They just want the same things you and I would want for our own kids. This is the kind of genuine love I saw on that episode, the kind of love only a mother can have for her child.

My baby is going to be six this year and in about seven years, my oldest will be in high school on the verge of college so I know this time will be here faster than I would ever want it to. I know I complain when my kids don’t listen or pick up after themselves. And of course I could go without the constant sibling drama and the 9,000,000 other issues I deal with on a day-to-day basis as a parent – but I know as fast as I can complain about them not putting their shoes away or to please stop making crumbs on the floor, I know there will come a day you will find me crying on that floor; crying because my children are gone and I will wish for all of this time back.

So the next time I watch a little Beverly Hills drama unfold, for a fleeting moment I’ll see these women in a different light.

And as for me? Well, I am going to smile when I hear the pitter patter of small feet and loud voices coming around the hall - and absolutely revel in a pile of shoes and crumbs on the floor.