Monthly Archives: April 2013

Happy Toy Machine review…..and a giveaway!

I have never been to a Build A Bear store, or any other kind of shop where you go to the place and pay to make your very own stuffed animal. I have always thought they were too pricey, and to be honest, my boys never really liked them.  I am not sure they catered to the styles my kids liked. 

However, we were recently invited to make a toy at a website called Happy Toy Machine.   I was skeptical, but we watched the video on this website and it made a believer out of me. 

Then I looked up some their reviews of the company and noticed a trend.  Most of the reviewers had young children and they were specifically commenting on how easy the website was for their young child to navigate with little or no help.  My kids are older. Would they be interested??

I was happily surprised when my 13 year old was very interested in making his own plush toy.  So he hopped on the computer and got busy.  He loved it!!  He loved the options of being able to choose colors, and body styles.  He spent almost 30 minutes just designing the exact toy he wanted.  The website is very easy to navigate, and he was able to change his mind (which he did often) and the website responded quickly.   He chose to make a smushimal toy which is conical shaped. He could also have chose a plushling toy which has 12 different body styles to choose from.

The choices to design the toy are almost endless.  For example there are over 50 choices for eyes, over 20 different kinds of noses, numerous mouth, eyebrows, and facial features such as mustaches, whiskers, freckles, and more! That is just the beginning.  The body has features that can be added as well, such as zebra stripes, or dots, or even hearts. 

Once the toy has been designed, you can name it, pick a hometown for it, and even give it favorite foods and hobbies!  That is a COMPLETE package folks!  I was totally impressed! 

The price is right as well. You can create a plushling toy for as little as $15.00 (not including shipping charges).  Or you can spend up to $50.00 if you want a larger toy.

And, if you are not in the mood to create one yourself, they even have some you can purchase that are premade.  They are adorable as well.  This company has it all, at an affordable price.  AND it is not just for little kids.  Teenagers and young adults love this site too!  In fact, when my 13 year old’s toy arrived, the 16 year old thought it was awesome and wants to use the 15% coupon that arrived in the package to make his own Happy Toy Machine toy!!

Making his toy

Making his toy

Still making his toy

Still making his toy

His toy on the computer

His toy on the computer

Finished!!

Finished!!

Stripes on top of toy.

Stripes on top of toy.

 

Cute Happy Toy Machine toy!!

Cute Happy Toy Machine toy!!

 

 

The happy boy with his Happy Toy Machine Toy!

The happy boy with his Happy Toy Machine Toy!

You should definitely head over to Happy Toy Machine to create a loveable, huggable, adorable toy! You can also check them out on Facebook and on Twitter.

You can also WIN a Happy Toy Machine toy!! Happy Toy Machine has offered a coupon code for a free regular size toy and free shipping within the continental US for one lucky Coffee, Clutter and Chaos reader!

Thanks Happy Toy Machine!

Entry is easy with Rafflecopter! Comments left on the Facebook wall, Twitter page or other post do not count. Winners will be picked at random with Random.org. US Only! 18 and older.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The product was provided free of charge for me to review. The opinions remain my own.

Good Luck!!

Disclosure* The product in this review was provided to me free of cost for the purpose of conducting this review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation..

 

 

 

 

An inoperable brain tumor?? What??

You can never be sure exactly what is going on inside your body.  Well, there are the obvious things, like hunger pains and gas….   But beyond that, it is impossible to really have a clear picture of how healthy our organs are, or how our blood looks, or exactly how things are functioning.  Of course we know when they STOP functioning, but what about when things are “okay”, but may not be perfect.

For example, what if your lungs had some spots that were unhealthy because when you were younger you decided to cave to peer pressure and a smoked cigarettes for 15+years……(I am talking about a friend here….duh), or if you decided to smoke Marijuana a couple of times just to “check it out”….ummmm duh,…..a friend again……. or maybe you even might have tried something harder once…..(FRIEND……….OKAY????…..sheesh).  We can’t look into our bodies and see what kind of damage these choices may have caused.

What about the people who have illnesses due to no fault of their own, but just because it is that way for them?  What about time bombs that are just ticking away like Cancer, or heart disease, or high cholesterol, or a stroke.  Just waiting until your guard is down to strike and cause havoc in your life and loved ones.  Too bad we can’t have some sort of see through window that doctors can use to see what might happen to us and our bodies so we can prepare.

My point is  that we never know what is going on inside us.  Maybe that is a good thing, maybe not.

About 4 years ago Bluebell began having headaches.  Every day.  All day.  They were worse if she coughed, or sneezed, or bent over to tie her shoes.  I made her go to the Primary Care doctor.  They sent her to a neurologist.  He ordered an MRI.  We were called back to the Primary Care doctor.  She brought us in, and told us she did not know what was causing Bluebell’s headaches, but they had found a “Tumor” in her brain while they were doing the MRI, and Bluebell would be sent to a Neurosurgeon for evaluation.

Then the Neurosurgery appointments began.  MRI’s, Cat Scans, discussions.  This was in December of 2009.  Bluebell was diagnosed with a Meningioma (benign tumor of the meninges), which was sitting right next to her brainstem in a very bad (inoperable) spot.  She had an amazing Neurosurgeon at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital: Dr. Piccarilli.  Dr. P. is a super smart lady, and told Bluebell that it was a very small (millimeters) tumor and we were simply going to watch it for a while.  Get MRI’s annually and see what it does.

I was shocked!!!! Really??

A tumor???

In an inoperable spot right next to her brainstem???

Only Bluebell could have this kind of luck.  We often joke, that when God created her, He mixed up lots of different kinds of health issues, and tossed them into her DNA, just to see how she could handle it.  We had already been through eye surgery, cervical cancer, a radical hysterectomy, benign thyroid tumor, lymphedema from the hysterectomy, a stapedectomy to correct her deteriorating ear bone……

I mean……. really???

An inoperable brain tumor??

So we did what we assumed everyone does in that situation.

We named the tumor.

Calvin.

He became her scapegoat.  Any time she did something and we got into an argument she said “Oops, must be Calvin.”  If she forgot something she would say, “thanks a lot Calvin”.  Basically poor Calvin was blamed for all her difficulties.  I almost felt bad for the poor little millimeter of tissue……   except that he parked himself right next to Bluebell’s brainstem….which is incidentally a VITAL organ….   If he had parked himself in a more accessible spot in Bluebell’s brain I would like him MUCH better!!!!

Bluebell's looks like this only hers is a bit smaller.  Not encroaching on the brainstem

Bluebell’s looks like this only hers is a bit smaller. Not encroaching on the brain-stem

Time went on and Bluebell continued to see Dr P.  After a year, Dr P decided that Calvin had grown just a smidge, and it was time for Bluebell to see someone else about Calvin.  A neurosurgeon who specialized in a particular procedure that could help either reduce Calvin’s size, or stop him from growing.  So she sent us to see a doctor at Riverside Hospital in Newport News named Dr Lesnick.  He is a surgeon who specializes in a procedure called Gamma Knife Radiation. 

Bluebell was scheduled an we went in at 6 am for Bluebell’s procedure.  She was given a twilight anesthesia cocktail which means she wouldn’t feel anything but would be alert enough to answer questions and respond to directions.  However, she wouldn’t remember anything, so of course I took advantage of that!  🙂

For the procedure they had to put a contraption on her head called a halo.  Then they buckle this helmet thing on in the machine and use a computer to pinpoint exactly where the radiation is to go.

 

Bluebell in hospital bed with halo on.

Bluebell in hospital bed with halo on.

To hold the halo in place so it won’t move they actually screw in into your skin in 4 places.  Two on the forehead and two in the back of the scalp.  Hence the anesthesia.

left side of forehead

left side of forehead

It was pretty much an all day procedure.  We didn’t get out of there until 4:00 in the afternoon.

It all went as well as they expected, and she was scheduled for a follow up visit in 6 months to do another MRI to see if Calvin was affected by the Gamma Knife.

The follow up MRI showed that Calvin had not grown, but he had not gotten smaller either, but Dr. Lesnick was very hopeful the procedure had worked.

So now Bluebell goes in every year to have an MRI done to see how Calvin is doing.  In May it will be time for her annual visit to check on Calvin.  Since she remains asymptomatic I feel pretty confident the Gamma Knife stopped him in his tracks.

I will say that one of the most touching moments I had during this entire situation was during a visit with Dr Lesnick.  I told him how grateful I was that a doctor of his prominence made this procedure available to those of us who use government healthcare insurance (Tricare) because I know Tricare does not reimburse doctors very well.  He responded it was the least he could do to honor people who served in the military!  Brought tears to my eyes!

I guess the moral of the story is that you never know what life will throw your way, and in the big picture we just do the best we can and keep marching forward to face the challenges head on.

Literally, in Bluebell’s case.  So Calvin is here to stay because he is in a place that no surgeon can get to.  He is a part of our life, and he is going to stay right where he is.

Silent Saturday- A blast from the past

I have a super busy day planned today, purchasing plants for the garden and planting them. I have been reminiscing lately as Bluebell’s son gets ready to graduate High School, and Joe Cool turns 16 on Friday and The Genius is entering High School in the

Joe Cool getting his Arrow of Light award in Cub Scouts

Joe Cool getting his Arrow of Light award in Cub Scouts

The Genius at a Pinewood Derby with blue spiked hair

The Genius at a Pinewood Derby with blue spiked hair

The Genius at a Holiday school pageant. 2nd grade I do believe.

The Genius at a Holiday school pageant. 2nd grade I do believe.

Gingerbread house making 2008.

Gingerbread house making 2008.

The Genius and my forever dog Amber.  2001

The Genius and my forever dog Amber. 2001

The Hunter with a broken arm 2007.

The Hunter with a broken arm 2007.

Joe Cool with Mickey Mouse 2010.

Joe Cool with Mickey Mouse 2010.

All of us on our first spring break vacation to Massanutten 2007.

All of us on our first spring break vacation to Massanutten 2007.

Now the chubby cheeks are gone.

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The Hunter in 10th grade JROTC

The Hunter in 10th grade JROTC

And they are all taller than me!

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The Genius on a boat!

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Joe Cool dressed for a high school pep rally!

Where has the time gone??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fall.  Where we have come from.  Enjoy!