Walk with Dinosaurs in a spectacular new show

When I was a kid, one of my favorite programs was Land of the Lost.  I know humans never walked with dinosaurs, but it was fun to pretend!  This holiday season, Bay Area families will have their dino dreams come true when Walking With Dinosaurs -- The Arena Spectacular arrives in the Bay Area. They'll be at San Jose's SAP Center, and my family and I going to see them on Christmas Day!

Here's more information about the show:
Experience when dinosaurs once again roamed the earth when the spectacular production, Walking With Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, based on the award-winning BBC Television Series, returns to SAP Center at San Jose for a limited nine performance engagement from December 25 to December 28. You will be able to take a journey through prehistoric times at this amazing family show that includes 20 life-size dinosaurs! From the ripple of their skin to the glint in their eye, you will know the dinosaurs really are back! Don’t miss your chance to see the best-selling family show of all time!

A friend of mine has watched the show with her son a few years ago, and she said it was amazing.  The dinosaurs are life sized (there are 20 dinosaurs and 10 separate species represented in the show) and they move just like they're real.  Her son was younger then, and she said he was a bit intimidated by the dinosaurs, so if you do have young children, keep that in mind.  I think 10 will be the perfect age because they won't be scared, and they'll appreciate the spectacle!  This is another reason for us to be excited for Christmas day!  Stay tuned for a show report!

Go to the Walking With Dinosaurs page to find the location nearest you and to purchase tickets.

Disclosure: I will be receiving press tickets to review the show with my family. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Watch your holiday wish list get printed onto Santa's Canon PIXMA printer!

Just 8 days till Christmas!  Have you made your Christmas wish list yet?  Here's a fun way to do it -- the Canon North Pole PIXMA app!  Just head to Canon's Facebook page and click on the North Pole PIXMA tab (or go to https://www.northpolepixma.com/)  You can create your child's wish list (or yours!) by typing out wish list items, drawing the items, or adding photos of the items.

Once you have your list ready, click on the Print arrow and get ready for some magic!

Your wish list will be sent to the North Pole via the cloud, and printed on a Canon PIXMA printer! We have a Canon PIXMA wireless printer and we love it, so I'm not surprised that Santa has one too.

What a fun way to spread the holiday magic!

Disclosure:I received a gift pack from Canon as a thank-you for posting this information. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Proactiv+ Review

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Proacitv+. I received samples of Proactiv+ to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

The Pea, at age 13, is just starting to experience the "joys" of acne breakouts.  I can commiserate, because I'm getting breakouts right alongside her!  I suffer from adult acne, and I always end up scarring because I hate the acne so much, I end up picking it (I know, I know, it's a really bad habit but I can't stand the thought of all that pus inside me, better out than in!).  A lot of the acne medicine, including natural tea tree oil, dries my skin up so much.   Acne never really goes away, all you can do is manage and control breakouts, so sometimes it does feel like an endless cycle of acne and scars, acne and scars.

I've wanted to try Proactiv ever since I saw the first ad, ages ago.  I've always wondered if it was just too good to be true -- all those celebrities singing Proactiv's praises, all those testimonies from regular people. I was so happy to be selected by Influence Central to try out Proactiv+ , a 3-step skincare system that helps clear acne while keeping skin soft and smooth.

More about Proactiv+
• With Proactiv+, every enhanced acne-fighting benefit comes with an equally powerful
skin-care benefit.
• The Proactiv+ system provides enhanced hydration, skin smoothing and mark reduction
as well as an overall improvement in texture, tone, pore appearance and brightness in
one elegant system.
• Proactiv+ helps fight breakouts and makes your skin look and feel healthier through a
range of skincare ingredients. There are three steps in the core system:
     o Step 1- Skin Smoothing Exfoliator
     o Step 2- Pore Targeting Treatment
     o Step 3- Complexion perfecting Hydrator
• The “plus” in Proactiv+ means “more” with more advanced skin care benefits built in to
give you a more luminous complexion.

This is what the Proactiv+ kit looks like, It contains the 3 products you will need:

1) Cleanser:  Use the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator to remove dirt and oil. Apply and rinse off, and use it twice a day.

2) Pore treatment: Use the Pore Targeting Treatment to kill acne bacteria in your face. Apply twice a day, using 2 pumpfuls at a time.

3) Moisturize: Use the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator to sooth irritation and keep skin soft and smooth. Rub a coin-sized amount into the face, twice a day.

You have to use all 3 products twice a day, morning and evening, in the order specified above. Probably the most difficult part for me was getting into twice-a-day habit.  It definitely takes more time... but it's worth it!  After 4 weeks of using Proactiv+, I do feel like my skin is smoother, and I've lost the big, red acne bumps that I had on my chin when I first started using Proactiv+.  One of the best things about Proactiv+ is that I don't feel like my skin is tight and flaky, the way it does.  It did feel somewhat itchy the first few days, but that subsided.

Another thing you need to remember is that this is actually a 4-step system, at least during the daytime -- after applying the 3 products in the morning, you need to apply sunscreen with a factor of at least SPF 15 (this wasn't a problem for me since I do that every morning anyway).  But like I said, it's worth it.  No wonder those celebrities rave about Proactiv+ !

Has anyone else tried Proactiv+?  Did it work for you?

You can purchase Proactiv+ online at http://www.proactiv.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-ProactivPlusSite/default/Default-Start.

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Proacitv+. I received samples of Proactiv+ to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating. The views and opinions expressed here are my own. #MC #Sponsored

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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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Mail a Letter To Santa and Grant A Wish

December has barely begun, and my kids have already written out their holiday wish lists. This year the boys are all about Nerf blasters, the bigger the better!  They also want extra bullets because those things are like socks -- they're constantly disappearing.  The Pea wants Monster High dolls.  They also want an extra remote controller for the Wii U so that their friends can play together as a foursome.

With all the different models and varieties, their list has gotten to be pretty long, but they know better than to expect us to buy everything on their list!  Alfie and I will pick one or two (most likely the ones that are on sale!), and they'll be thrilled on Christmas morning.  They know that even though they're not getting everything they want, they're lucky to get it.  There are so many kids whose parents can't afford to get them nice presents for the holidays, and there are other kids who have so many other problems in life, the wish they really want -- health, a united family, a parent home from the war, a safe home -- can't be granted.

That's why it's important to support organizations like Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. They grant more than 300 wishes annually to children who have battled a life-threatening illness.  Last year, Make-A-Wish granted the wishes of more than 14,000 children across the United States. A wish is granted every 38 minutes!

Here's how you can help this holiday season: Between November 7 – December 24, visit your local Macy’s store or Macy’s Believe online to submit your child’s letter to Santa in special, designated Santa Mail letterboxes, and help make dreams come true for Make-A-Wish kids around the country.

For every letter received through December 24, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish (up to $1,000,000), to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. You may also submit your letter online at Macys.com/believe.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Sharp Aquos smartphone: high-end feel, low-end price

Sharp AQUOS Crystal phone

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate this review

Everyone knows that Sharp makes great televisions.  But did you know that Sharp also makes great phones? As a SprintMom Ambassador, I received Sprint's new Sharp AQUOS Crystal smartphone to review.  Sprint is launching it in the US for their prepaid brands (Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA), but the Sharp AQUOS is no cheapie prepaid phone!  It's a beautiful, hi-end piece of technology which brings together the best of Sharp's screen technology, Sprint's Spark (enhanced LTE) network, and Google's Android software.

The first thing you notice about this phone is how the screen takes up the whole phone!  The screen goes all the way to the edge of the phone, so it has a much larger screen than other phones of the same size.
Sharp AQUOS Crystal phone

The second thing you notice about this phone is that it looks and feels like a high end phone.  It's incredibly thin and lightweight.  The display is sharp and crisp and vibrant.
Sharp AQUOS Crystal phone

Did you know that the Sharp Aquos features Harman/Kardon sound technology?  That's right, you get that world famous high quality sound!  We reviewed another Sprint phone with Harman/Kardon sound a few months ago, and you can really tell the difference in quality.  And did you know that the entire screen acts as a speaker?  That's right, you can put your ear anywhere on the phone and still be able to hear your calls and music easily.  The back of the phone has a regular speakerphone as well.
Sharp AQUOS Crystal phone

Another great feature of the Sharp AQUOS is Wifi-enabled calling. This lets users place calls and text messages over WiFi when on a home or public WiFi network.  This is a great way to take advantage of WiFi to save money on your phone plans without losing any quality!   Whenever I've used the phone, I don't even notice that I'm calling via WiFi instead of a cellular phone network.

The 8-megapixel camera isn't mind-blowing compared to the more expensive Sprint phones that we've reviewed in the past, but it's still pretty decent. Here's a sample photo taken by the camera.  The only retouching I did to the photo was to crop Alfie's legs out of the photo.  I didn't do anything other than snap the photo to get that gorgeous sky blue color! The phone also has great camera features like Night Catch, which brightens the subject and background for nighttime shots, and Smile Capture, a feature that automatically takes photos when it detects a smile!

See, here's the problem -- the Sharp AQUOS has such great features, it's easy to forget that it's priced in the $149 prepaid phone range!  It feels so high-end, I find myself comparing it to high-end but high-priced phones.  The reality is that it's a decent phone, even compared to the high-end phones, but it's a fantastic phone compared to other phones in a similar price range!

More about Sharp AQUOS Crystal
SoftBank and Sprint merge to bring the Sharp AQUOS Crystal smartphone to the United States. Sprint and its prepaid brands (Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA) are the exclusive U.S. carriers for this groundbreaking AQUOS device.

Sharp, a company known worldwide for its unique one-of-a-kind electronics is determined to create a balance between work and personal time with products that can benefit customers’ lives.

Sharp AQUOS Crystal breaks the mold of traditional smartphone design. From stunning picture quality and an immersive, vibrant display, to its sleek, 5-inch edge-to-edge HD screen, AQUOS Crystal revolutionizes the mobile phone experience.

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate this review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own. #MC #SprintMom #sponsored

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Get a Canon DSLR Camera at Best Buy

When it comes to preserving memories, a good camera is everything.  We've all had the experience of taking photo after photo at an important event, only to upload the photos later and discover that all of your photos are blurred. Or too dark.  Or too bright.  Or with the awful flash glare.  Or they just don't capture the colors of the event, the way you saw it in your mind and in the viewfinder!  It's so frustrating.

If photos are important to you, I highly recommend purchasing a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera. To be more precise, I highly recommend purchasing a Canon DSLR!  We have had our Canon Rebel for over 4 years, and couldn't be happier with it.  The Rebel is sooo much better than a point and shoot camera. First of all, you don't have to wait ages for the camera to be ready or for the camera to save your shot. Second, you can use different kinds of lenses -- macro lens, wide angle lens, with or without zoom features, etc... -- to capture different moods and scenes.  Your son's fast action soccer game photo is so different from a still life photo of your latest baked creation! Also, the Rebel has lots of different modes to help you get that perfect shot. Best of all, it's still easy enough for a beginner to use. Yes, they are a bit pricier than point-and-shoot cameras, but it's a great investment  -- and when you purchase a Canon Rebel at Best Buy, you can save $100-$150!  Check out the features of the Canon EOS Rebel T5i below:

About the Canon EOS Rebel T5i

Best Buy is the ultimate destination for the latest cameras to capture your holiday memories. The Canon EOS Rebel T5i is one of the best-selling DSLRs. This camera makes advanced photography easy and fun, and gives you exceptional image quality, along with a host of features to enhance your creative expression.
• Capture Hollywood caliber full HD video
• Continuous autofocus while taking HD video
• Features an 18.0-megapixel CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 5 image processor to ensure vivid, crystal-clear images.
• The 3" vari-angle touch screen simplifies navigation.

Save on Canon at Best Buy

Save $150 on the Canon EOS Rebel T5i at Best Buy (offer valid 12/7-12/20)! Visit Best Buy to learn more.

Join the Best Buy Canon Twitter Party

Do you love twitter parties? Best Buy is hosting a Canon Twitter Party on Thursday December 18th at 7pm CST. Feel free to join this party for a chance to receive Best Buy gift cards and other great prizes. Tweet #HintingSeason with your top gifts that you want this Holiday from Best Buy.

Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. The views and opinions expressed here are my own. Product information (in italics) is provided by the featured company/product. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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American Girl Holiday Gift Guide 2014

After weeks of studying the American Girl catalogue and browsing through the American Girl Store, I've finally come up with my 2014 American Girl holiday gift guide -- and this year, I'm all about the clothes!  Of course, as I say every year, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING American Girl would make a great gift, and the best gift is what your girl really wants -- but if she can't make up her mind, or if you want to surprise her, here are my top picks for 2014:


First up, the presents for girls who have been very, very good! The Happy Holiday Dress (with matching doll dress) pictured in the photo above would make the perfect holiday outfit.  For an extra special holiday event, throw in the matching doll outfit!  Of course, if you're lucky enough to live near and American Girl Store, make sure you snap up the Ruby Ball Gown set,  which is only available in stores.  It features a white fur coat and a long ballgown with a glittery gold top and red tulle skirt, plus gold shoes and a ruby and diamond tiara. Unfortunately, there's no matching girl outfit.

My favorite matching girl-doll casual outfit this year is the Winter White Outfit.  I love the solid white color and the layered pieces!  I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of the knit shorts, but my fashionista sister (who lives in London) assures me they are all the rage, so I'll tolerate them on the doll -- fortunately, the matching girl outfit has a skirt instead of shorts!

I think the main reason that all my AG gift picks are clothing items is the new BeForever girls' line.  I adore the way the girls' outfits are inspired by the dolls outfits, rather than being carbon copies of them.  Our girls don't live in the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th centuries, after all, and they don't want to wear costumes every day!  And those colors! Those bright, beautiful colors! All the BeForever girls' outfits are great, but my four favorites are Samantha, Josefina, Kit, and Addy. I'm sure any little girl would be thrilled to wear any of those outfits.

Samantha's pink Victorian outfit is way too frilly for modern girls to play in, but the matching girls' dress loses the puffed sleeves and lacy collar, so it's still pretty, but less frilly.  I love how the model is wearing it with red sneakers!

The Josefina girl's dress takes Josefina's traditional Mexican American outfit and gives it a modern, boho vibe. No need for the shawl because it has longer sleeves to keep your girl warm on chilly days!

Kit's dress just screams Spring and Summer -- just perfect for an Easter Egg Hunt or Summer Picnic!  I like that the matching girls' outfit loses the huge red neckline buttons but keeps the Peter Pan collar.

The Addy doll dress is beautiful, but it has a distinct schoolmarmish air -- plus, no one wears petticoats!  I love how the matching girl's dress was reimagined as a sleeveless dress, but still keeps the beautiful blue color, the black trim, the black shoulder bows, and the gathered bodice.  This is one great party dress!


If you can't shell out the big bucks but still want to give a present that will thrill your girl, don't worry. American Girl has plenty of presents for every budget. Here are my top 3 value presents:

I'm so happy that Samantha is back, but I sure do miss her plaid schoolgirl outfit!  If your girl is missing that outfit too, you'll still have Samantha's Holiday Set to console her. It comes with not only a dress, but a tea set as well.

Most of the American Girl doll clothes come in sets, but you can buy separates from the GOTY 2014 Isabelle for $8-$14 per piece!  It's a great way to mix and match to suit both style and budget.  My favorites are  Isabelle's Wrap Sweater, Shrug Pants, and Coral Sweater.... but don't forget, they'll only be here as long as Isabelle is here. In other words, they'll be gone at the end of the month!
I just had to add Addie's pretty Plaid Summer Set -- it's on sale for just $13!!!  Hopefully by the time you read this, you'll still be able to buy it, because like all of American Girl's sale items, it won't last long.

The Service Dog Set is the only item on my holiday list that isn't an item of clothing or an accessory  I just love the fact that American Girl appeals to girls of all ages and abilities.  You can buy this service dog, braces, headgear, glasses, a cast, a wheelchair -- you can even purchase special American Girl dolls without hair! -- to help your girl identify with her American Girl doll.

Stocking Stuffers

Even my stocking stuffer picks are clothes!  Okay, technically they're accessories, but hey, they're still for American Girl dolls to wear!  My top 3 stocking stuffers are hair extensions, which are perfect for any girl who wishes she had Isabelle's pink-tipped hair extensions for her own American Girl Dolls.  Those are only available with the Isabelle doll, but for all other American Girl dolls, you can purchase Accent Braid Clips, Clip-on Buns, or Ponytails, which come in a variety of hair colors and clip on to any doll's hair.

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Sanus iPad Mount

How do you use your iPad?  There are as many applications for iPads as there are apps!  You can use your iPad as a magazine, a book, a tv, a recipe book, a family calendar, a typewriter, an internet browser, a camera, a home theater system, and so much more.  We use it for all those things and more!

The way you hold or position  your iPad also depends on how you use it. When I'm reading over breakfast, I prop the iPad on a cereal box. When I'm relaxing on the couch, I hold it in my hand.  When I'm typing, it's either flat on the table or propped up on a book.  Many times I need my hands free, so having an iPad stand becomes really useful.

Enter the Sanus iPad mount, an easy, elegant way to prop your iPad up on your desk, wall, or kitchen cabinet!  Sanus sent me one for my iPad to try, and it's perfect for reading over breakfast or when I use it to cook!  The stand is made of sturdy metal, and it's really nice and elegant.  The stand arm swivels and twists so you get exactly the viewing angle that you want. It has a snap on plastic case that attaches to the stand via a magnet. The set also includes a mount and screws for attaching to the underside of your kitchen cabinets or to a wall.  Check it out, it makes a great iPad accessory gift!

About the SANUS iPad mount
The SANUS VTM1 iPad® 4-in-1 Mount offers a simpler way to type and swipe. Including a MagFit™ iPad case, an articulated arm and detachable desk stand, users can mount an iPad on the wall, table, and refrigerator or even under cabinets for limitless hands free capabilities. Whether mounted in the kitchen as a source for recipes or sitting upright on a table to watch movies, it keeps the iPad at a comfortable viewing position, providing optimal utilization.

SANUS mounts are available at SANUS.com, Best Buy, Costco, Target and Walmart stores, as well as local audio and video retailers nationwide.

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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The opinions expressed on the Bonggamom Finds blog are the personal views of the author; any reviews or recommendations are not intended to constitute medical advice or treatment in any form. In addition, neither the Bonggamom Finds blog nor its author are liable, and cannot be held liable, for any dissatisfaction you may have with the product, sponsor or any injuries that may be caused by use of that product.

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