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[caption id="attachment_14205" align="aligncenter" width="600"] ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved. Image Credit: ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.[/caption]   The North Point Mall has partnered with Mattel to introduce a new holiday adventure that will be memorable for the entire family. Santa’s Toy Factory will open on November 11 in the center court area of the shopping center. I am so excited for Santa's Toy Factory! When our oldest son was born, my husband and I trekked to North Point Mall to introduce our newborn to Santa Clause. Clothed in Christmas green striped pajamas, our barely 6 week old snoozed through his first meeting with the Man in the red suit. I was such a nervous first time mom, and handing my child to Santa was terrifying. But Santa’s blue eyes just twinkled as he carefully held my newborn. It was such a wonderful memory (we keep the picture of that first meeting on our refrigerator all year long). It will be really fun to revisit NorthPoint Mall in such a magical way and relive it with our now Kindergartener and younger two children. In particular, I’m excited for the Hot Wheels display. Our youngest son, Blake, is a HUGE cars and Hot wheels fanatic. He already carries an entire backpack of Hot Wheels wherever he goes, so I can't wait to see the look on his face when he sees the Hot Wheels Speed Test set up. Of course, I have such great memories of playing with Barbies and for the first time, my daughter has been asking for Barbies. Imagine her look when she sees the Barbie Dream House!!!! Honestly and truly, the entire Santa Toy Factory looks so awesome, it makes ME want to make a list of toys to ask Santa for for Christmas. I am also excited to see what else is available - there is the American Girl Store and the Lego Store. There will be so many opportunities to grow our kids’ Christmas wish lists to find out what they truly want for Christmas. It's going to be such an exciting and fun experience for our family. It's the perfect way to really jumpstart the Holidays with North Point Mall and Mattel!

Here's a bit more about Santa's Toy Factory:

[caption id="attachment_14209" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Image Credit: ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved. Image Credit: ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.[/caption] Santa’s Toy Factory is designed to empower creativity through an interactive, immersive experience to meet Santa. Within the 1,600 square-foot space, young guests will have the opportunity to “test” new toys in Santa’s Factory before they get delivered to all the boys and girls on Christmas morning. After they “test” the toys, they visit different stations to digitally design, build and paint toys from Mattel’s iconic brands including Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, and Thomas & Friends.. The grand finale, of course, will be meeting Santa himself for photos and to share their holiday wish list.
“We are proud to be partnering with Mattel to bring this new, one-of-a-kind holiday concept to life,” said Nick Nicolosi, general manager of North Point Mall. “We are always looking for ways to introduce new brands and experiences to our community and can’t wait to showcase Santa’s Toy Factory this holiday season. We know our guests will embrace it.”
The experience with Santa’s Toy Factory is free-of-charge and photo packages begin at $39.99. To make reservations to ensure quicker access, please click HERE. If you'd like more information, please visit www.VisitSantasToyFactory.com. North Point Mall is located at 1000 North Point Circle and is home to a plethora of high-quality tenants including American Girl, Lego and the Disney Store.a.

Check out these One-Day Special Events Too!

You Can Be Anything Barbie

[caption id="attachment_14202" align="alignnone" width="600"] ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.
Image Credit: ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.[/caption] November 12, 2017 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM Center Court

Thomas and His Super Station

[caption id="attachment_14203" align="alignnone" width="600"]
Image Credit: ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.[/caption] November 25, 2017 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM Center Court

Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage

[caption id="attachment_14204" align="alignnone" width="600"] ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.
Image Credit: ©2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. ©2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved.[/caption] December 7, 2017 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM Center Court

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Twitter: @Mattel Instagram: @Mattel Facebook: @Mattel Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Bloggin’ Mamas & North Point Mall to share these free family events with my readers, and am being compensated for this partnership. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am participating in a blog hop for 'Twas the Evening of Christmas. Head over to for the next blog, Buzz4Mommies. Zonderkidz Publishers graciously gifted me 'Twas the Evening of Christmas in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. It's no secret I LOVE...

(This picture is of my kids pretending to be #RabbitsWithSwords from the Green Ember series mentioned below.) As much as we love picture books, but I also want my kids enjoy chapter books. One way we do this is with audiobooks. The thing about audiobooks is that when you have a good narrator, the book can feel like it comes alive. My three children are under six years old, I don’t expect them to fully grasp everything in the books we listen to, but I do hope they enjoy the books we listen together. I also love that listening to audiobooks has been a way to expand their vocabulary, enhance their imagination and spark conversations about topics we may not have discussed without the influence of the audiobook. We have listened to a LOT of books on Librovox using the Podcast App on my iPhone. That has been a great way to listen to fabulous classic literature. We recently started buying audiobooks by adding the audible option to kindle books on Amazon. You can go the traditional route to purchase or borrow audiobook CDs from the library. A lot of libraries also have the option of an app where you can electronically borrow the audiobook. All libraries are different, so be sure to check with your local library. We have listened to many amazing books, I thought I would share the books we’ve listened to AND what my kids thought. I rated my kids’ reaction based on 5 stars. 1 Star – awful…5 Stars – BEST EVER. You will probably notice that there is no rhyme or reason to what my kids do and do not like, but that it is how it goes with raising readers. You never know what a child will really love and what they will be indifferent towards. Just keep trying! Sherlock Holmes: 3 Stars My kids: 2 stars. This probably has to do with their ages. I loved it, but they never asked to listen to it. Alice in Wonderland: 4 Stars. My kids really enjoyed listening to this book. We have the Alice in Wonderland (BabyLit Books) board book, so they were familiar with the characters. When we went to Walt Disney World, my daughter told Alice, "We've read your book. I know all about you!". Still makes me laughing thinking about Alice's reaction to a four year old saying that! Peter Pan : 5 STARS. They LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Peter Pan. It’s almost been a year since we’ve listened to it, and they still ask for it. We will be listening to it again VERY soon. Mary Poppins : 3 Stars They were indifferent to Mary Poppins. I think they would have connected with it better if we had watched the Classic Disney movie Mary Poppins first. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling : 4 Stars They really got a kick out of the stories and characters in Just So Stories. It’s all about talking animals, and they loved that. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz : 4 Stars My kids really loved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We usually listen to audiobooks in the car, but we actually listened to this book at the table during breakfast. They would ask for it with their breakfast. The Wind in the Willows : 2 Stars This really surprised me, but my kids weren’t big fans of The Wind in the Willows. This surprised me because it’s about talking animals and their adventures. But, I think the storyline was a little slow for their ages. I loved it and finished it without them! All-Of-A-Kind Family: 5 Stars My daughter LOVED All-Of-A-Kind Family. The story is about a family with FIVE girls. It's also an incredible resource about Jewish holidays and customs. The Green Ember Series: 5 Stars The Green Ember (Book 1) Ember Falls: The Green Ember Sequel (Book 2) The Black Star of Kingston (Prequel to Book 1) We listen to them in the order mentioned above. My Kids LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this series. We cannot wait for the third book to come available. Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective: 4 Stars If you aren't sure your kids are ready for Sherlock Holmes, the Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective is a fun way to introduce the character of Sherlock Holmes, not to mention the thrill of solving mysteries...oh, and it's from the perspective of a mouse! Homer Price: 3 Stars I love Homer Price. I have great memories of reading it over and over again as a kid. So, I was really excited to share the audiobook with my kids. They weren't big fans; I think the difficult part was that the charm of Homer Price is catching the funny things the characters say. While the narration is amazing, I think the audiobook lost the charm and humor of Homer Price. It's such a great book, though! Little Boy Lost: The Librarian: 3 Stars The concept of Little Boy Lost is really fun: a group of kids enter a library that is full of mystery, mainly that the classics (The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, etc) aren't just stories, they are real! I thought my kids would like the idea of traveling to the stories we've read, but they weren't a big fan of Little Boy Lost. 8-10 year olds will probably enjoy this one. The Mouse and the Motorcycle: 5 Stars This classic children's book was a big hit amongst my kids. My son caught on that to make the motorcycle go, the mouse had to make the "vroom-vroom" engine noise with his voice. That sparked imagination for sure! Henry Huggins narrated by Neil Patrick Harris: 5 Stars Great book! Neil Patrick Harris does an awesome job narrating this book. We tried to do it as a read aloud and we didn't get far, but the audiobook was a big hit. We listened to it in one sitting (we were traveling, but they couldn't get enough!). Black Beauty: 5 Stars My kids really enjoyed Black Beauty. I was amazed, honestly, that a story about a horse from the horse's perspective would keep them so enthralled, but they absolutely loved it. It is an extraordinary classic and if you haven't read it (or listened to it), do so! 100 Cupboards by ND Wilson: 3 stars My kids were indifferent to 100 Cupboards. I think it's because of their ages, but I really enjoying listening to it. It's so well done. I think kids 8-12 years of age will love it. Currently Listening to: Anne of Green Gables narrated by Rachel McAdams: 5 Stars Swiss Family Robinson: Shipwreck, adventure, a band of brothers. 4 Stars. Do you listen to audiobooks with your family? Share your favorites! *This post contains affiliate links. This is at no cost to you, my reader, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. I know we are eagerly counting down to our Thanksgiving school break! As I was going through our Holiday Books collection, I realized we only have THREE Thanksgiving books. Yikes! I'm not sure how that happened, but the three...