Friday, December 18, 2009

3 winners!

It was seriously PAINFUL to make this video. Watch and find out why....

ANYWAY, congrats to all the winners! I need your mailing addresses ASAP to get the items to you before the holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Squeeballs Party giveaway!

Any readers with kids who love their Nintendo DS? I have a game that everyone will love, including yourself!

Squeeballs Party is a family friendly game centered around these furry, crazy little furballs that are on an island, going through rigorous testing before being released as toys to the children of the world. Countless mini-games are the "tests" that your child (or you! I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy it myself!) must complete to "level up." The poor little Squeeballs get beat up pretty badly, but do so with the best music and sound effects, that I was snorting and giggling despite myself. Overall, it's a cute game and one that I don't mind having all of my kids play.

They recently dropped the Nintendo DS version of the game from $29.99 to $19.99. If you aren't the winner of this giveaway, you can still get a good deal on a brand-new Nintendo DS game for your family!

Want to win one? Here's how!

~ Comment!

~ Follow me on Twitter.

~ Tweet about this giveaway (and link to it).

~ Subscribe to my blog.

~ Post about this giveaway on your own blog (and link to it).

Good luck! The winner will be drawn on Friday, Dec 18. Shipping is 2-day, so as soon as I get your address, it will be sent out, just in time for Christmas!

Playmobil Giveaway!

My home is completely covered from front door to back, top floor to the basement, in Legos. But in all the years of parenting for 3 kids, we had yet to have a Playmobil toy in our home! Can you believe that? I'm not sure why, because there are tons and tons of fun choices for imaginative play in the Playmobil toy line-up. They're priced reasonably and available just about everywhere. The Nautical Expedition line is right up Evan's alley with the sharks, sea animals and little figurines. I also like that each of their lines is so easy to expand upon. I forsee many more Nautical sets in my home's future! Evan is now the proud owner of the Shark Diver and your own child can be the owner of the Divers in Tropical Reef AND the Deep Sea Diving Bell!

Enter your comment for a chance to win BOTH of the sets. To enter:

~ Check out the Playmobil site and tell me about any toy you find interesting.

~ Follow me on Twitter.

~ Tweet about this giveaway (please provide the link).

~ Subscribe to my blog.

~ Post about this on your own blog (please provide the link).

My minions and I will be drawing a winner's name on Friday, December 18, sometime after I've had enough coffee to wake me up. So enter now and good luck!!

FYI, I am not 100% sure that this will arrive before Christmas but will update as soon as I hear back from the sponsor. Either way, it's a great toy to have on hand for birthdays or Just Because!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Project of the Month Club

I have a really cool gift idea for those of you looking for a last minute present or for something educational and different! The Project of the Month Club contacted me recently to review their products and services and I am definitely intrigued!

We received a set of learning to stitch materials that Corinne descended upon like a buzzard. The projects themselves are geared for ages 8 and up because of the fine motor skills required to have the needle and thread follow the correct pattern, but she managed to complete several rows before getting a little bored and frustrated. I decided that tackling the tissue box cover was a bit too much for her right now (though we already have the sides all pieced together and several rows finished) so we cut the larger pieces that were designated for a craft bag into small hearts and squares to make into Christmas ornaments for her grandparents and family!
Our samples also included a step stool for the boys (and Corinne) to build and paint, complete with instructions that I think should be fairly easy for most children to follow with little help. I can't wait to show you all what the projects turn out when we finish them!

The idea behind this site is that you can purchase a membership that will send your child a different craft project every month (or quarterly, or bi-annually. There are several programs available.) Check out what they have to offer and, if it suits a child you know, use this code until January 31, 2010 for 10% off!

Code to use at The Project of the Months Club is : "justanother"

Let me know if you find this site interesting! I'd love to see the projects that get made!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Get your thank you cards before the holdays!

A long time reader and online friend, Karen Prinz, has a perfect giveaway for everyone this holiday season! (Check out her ad on my sidebar on JAMB!) She's a professional photographer with tons of experience in not only capturing your special moments on film, but also in retouching and restoring them, so that your own photos are every bit as beautiful on paper as they were in person.

You can enter below to win 25 personalized Thank You cards! You simply send her the photo of your choice and she'll design your cards (with envelopes) to thank the ones you appreciate. I personally love having a stock full of thank you cards. You never know when it'll be prudent to express your appreciation with a few kind words.

To enter to win:

~ Visit Karen's site! I love the layout and motion of her website.

~ Follow my blog.

~ Tweet about this giveaway.

~ blog about this giveaway.

We'll pick the winner on Friday December 18!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Applesauce giveaway!

Winner picked by is....

#8 - Andria! (aren't you glad you finally entered another giveaway?) Congrats and thanks to everyone for entering!

Enter below to win a mystery gift basket from Mussellman's Applesauce just in time for the holidays! I am going to be receiving one myself, and cannot wait to see what's inside!

Please visit their site and see what's new and then come back here, tell me what looks good, and enter a comment. You can follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my blog, post a tweet or a blog entry and get an extra comment for every thing you do!! Enter away!

I'll pick the winner on Monday, December 7!

Good Luck!

Winner of the FashionPlaytes giveaway!


Friday, November 27, 2009 Review and GIVEAWAY! is a site for girls who love to create. On it, they can design clothing from scratch by themselves! As soon as I clicked on it, I knew that my own little girl would be in love. We have spent hours, over several SEVERAL days, creating outfits and fancy pieces of clothes. Little does she know that FashionPlaytes has provided me with 2 $50 gift codes. One for me to use and review, and one for a lucky reader! Just watch my baby girl (she's only FOUR) figure out and navigate the site...

Don't tell her, but she's getting a blue dress with a kitty on it for Christmas! :)

I had wanted to wait to receive the clothing to review the quality before offering the giveaway, but it takes 3 weeks for shipping and I want to make sure this can be received in time for a potential holiday gift!! I'll let you all know what it's like when we get it...

I mentioned to my sister how cute the site was and her 9 year old daughter now has a looooong list of outfits she has earmarked for Christmas, too. Apparently, all ages DO like it!

You can enter a comment for each of the below:

~ Visit and check it out. You're on your honor for this one, but I know I can trust you all, right?

~ Follow me on Twitter (see right sidebar)

~ Subscribe to my blog

~ Tweet this post and link to your tweet.

~ Blog about this post and link to your blog.

Good luck to everyone! We'll pick the winner on Wednesday, December 1!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

$20 in-store credit for!!

When I was first contacted by eShakti's representative, they said "Look through our site and pick out something, anything, that you like and we'll send it to you for a review." I was like a kid in a candy store! ANYthing on a site filled with clothing I swear was made for me? I must admit, I was tempted to splurge and go CRAZY. Ooooooh so tempted by the beautiful dresses, floaty skirts, and romantic cardigans.
But I am not a greedy person and I am WAY MORE PRACTICAL than is sometimes prudent, so I stepped back and said "What do I NEED? What do I really, truly have a use for that would be an asset to my wardrobe?" Knowing myself as I do, and how I honestly only dress up 1-3 times a YEAR, I decided to check out their blouses and shirts for something I could wear with a skirt or jeans, depending upon the occasion. I am SO THRILLED with my choice!!

Isn't that cute?!? It's me. It's SO me, and it looks so nice on! It arrived less than a week after I ordered it and fits like a glove! (or, um, a shirt. Because I can't picture wearing a glove on my torso. Though it may be the next Big Thing! If so, I CLAIM IT. I THOUGHT OF IT FIRST PROJECT RUNWAY!!) I am not one to usually spend money on myself (even when we HAD money with which to be spending!) and wondered at the price of the shirt ($49.95). I asked the expert opinion of my friend who has her degree from design school. I needed to know if this was worth the cost that eShakti was charging. She stroked it and flipped it inside out and oohed and aahed over the seams and stitching and did some other seamstressy things and assured me that, Yes: I had a high-quality garment in my hands.

I was really, REALLY excited to think that a reader could get a gift of credit for eShakti, but ECSTATIC when I realized that not only ONE reader can benefit, but that ALL READERS can use this code!

Ok, folks. Here's the deal. Use this code KJFGRE2 when checking out at anytime from now until Christmas Day, and you will receive $20 off of a purchase of ANY LIMIT. Meaning, you don't have to spend a minimum amount to use this code! If the piece you like is $20, you get it free! (But don't forget the shipping/etc.) EVERYONE can use this! (But only once each)

PLUS PLUS PLUS - From now until Midnight, Nov 26, you will receive 25% off of the ENTIRE SITE!!!

Seriously, Justin and I spent a looooong time picking out the shirt that I chose. And when even a 10 year old BOY agrees that the site has beautiful clothing that would look nice on his own MOM? It's a site worth checking out!

Let me know if you find any treasures! I'd love to see what you all choose!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sucrets ICE Review

A blessing or a curse? All I know is that before the free samples of Sucrets ICE Throat on Fire arrived, all 3 of my kids were healthy. A week later? 2 had sore throats! Coincidence? Hmmm...

Despite my suspicions about this potential link, I will say that the frozen medicine had only great reviews from both Justin and Corinne. The numbing of the oral anesthetic seemed to really help, especially since they both have a hacking cough that is just rubbing their throats dry! And really, any kind of popsicle is a treat for my children. (Please remember this and keep all medicine stored as such! Little ones need to know that it's not the same thing as a regular popsicle!)

Sucrets Ice has paired up with Ice Age:Dawn of the Dinosaurs to offer a unique contest for any kids between ages 6-13. What does your child think can be done to save the polar ice caps? If their drawing is the winner of the contest, they could win all sorts of prizes for themselves and their school! Check it out and good luck!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dipping in the Sauce

SOMEtimes I can be adventurous in the kitchen. Adventurous as in making something I'm not sure my kids will eat. Nowadays? That little experiment with an unknown food is an expense I cannot justify. So when I was asked to "create" something with a sample of Musselman's Apple Sauce for a review, I had a hard time venturing into unknown territories. (Especially when my 4 year old kept on dipping into the jars for snack time!) When it came down to it, I just couldn't fathom using the perfectly good applesauce on something that I couldn't guarantee my children would eat. So what did I use it for?

Apple bread! YUM. My children all love baked goods, especially fruit breads and muffins. Using a little of a whole apple and some extra applesauce for moistness, we whipped up a mighty tasty apple bread that the entire family gobbled down. Just check your cookbooks and if there isn't a recipe for apple bread, simply use the banana or zucchini recipe and substitute apples! In fact, I prefer to use the banana recipe for apple bread. It's moister.

My only gripe with this particular type of Mussellman's was that, unlike the previous applesauces we'd sampled, two of the top 3 ingredients were High fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. I try to stick with the sauces that are not artificially sweetened so that I can count applesauce as a fruit when I dole it out!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Death defying performers and THEY preferred the prancing puppies...

We went to the circus! Ringling Brothers and B&B Circus is in Chicago with a "Magical" theme this year. Let me tell you, MY favorite part was the flaming sticks of death that (magically) didn't disembowel the clown that was forced into the tiny box. (Poor clowns! Why does everyone pick on them? A clown's a person, too, you know!)

The dancing dogs were my kids' favorite part. They were literally squealing with delight. SQUEALING.
Why, yes! That IS a pixie stick she is pouring into her mouth and all over her dress...
They were rocking out so hard to the music that most of the pictures show Justin behind an arm or a head. But this picture proves that he WAS there and he was laughing and smiling the entire time. DESPITE the "dreaded bar" that we had to sit behind... ;) It was soon forgotten when he realized that there wasn't anyone in front of him!

I've always loved the circus. And YES, I have investigated the animal mistreatment rumors revolving around circus performing animals. I am not convinced that the treatment of the circus animals is any less than that of those we eat or make into clothing products. So, please? Don't send me the links. I've watched them. I was not appalled (though I wish people as a society showed more respect to all creatures). I still eat chickens, eggs, and beef; I think I can handle watching elephants perform.

Whew! Off of my high horse, now!

For anyone who feels as I do, remember to enter my giveaway for tickets to the Chicago United Center show next week!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Circus, anyone?

I am so excited to announce a giveaway for Chicagoland readers! 1 family will receive 4 tickets for either Wednesday or Thursday night (Nov 18 or 19) at the United Center to see The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus! My kids and I will be going tomorrow night at the Allstate Arena and They. Are. Stoked. We all remember the circuses from the past years, and I know that this year will be just as fabulous.

You can purchase tickets to see the circus, visit their site,

To enter for your own tickets:

~ Comment below.
~ Follow me!
~ Follow me on Twitter.
~ Tweet about this giveaway (link please)
~ blog about this giveaway (link please)

Good luck to everyone! We'll pick the winner on Saturday, so enter fast!

I also have some coloring and activity sheets on PDF if anyone is interested (for some reason, I can't get them to post here properly and I really wanted this giveaway posted ASAP. I'm still working on posting them, but I can email them to anyone that's interested!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Win a JumpStart game for the Wii!

I recently received a copy of JumpStart's new Wii game, Escape from Adventure Island. Loyal readers will know how much Corinne and I enjoy the online JumpStart games and their first Wii game, Pet Rescue, as well. This second game continues my satisfaction with JumpStart and their products. Designed for ages 5-9 and revolving around familiar characters, the new game encourages all of the math, reading and "critical thinking skills" that JumpStart believes so strongly in. Though some of the levels are still a bit difficult for Corinne, (she only just turned 4, after all!) I know that Evan (age 7) would enjoy it (if only he'd unplug from his Nintendo DS for a bit!!). We'll be leaving the game for my almost 5 year old niece to enjoy though, as they are the ones with the working Wii right now!

JumpStart has made it possible for many of you to win a copy of this new Wii game, too! Go to their site, and enter to win any of the following:

  • 1 copy of JumpStart Escape from Adventure Island (rated E by the ESRB)
  • 1 Nintendo Wii console – to escape boredom
  • $250 in SpaFinder® gift certificates – to escape stress
  • 1 Flip™ Mino HD video camera – to record your adventures
  • 3 lifetime JumpStart memberships – 1 for you, 2 to share with friends
  • 500 virtual coins – to keep your kids’ online adventure exciting
  • JumpStart gear – to dress for adventure
Check out their rules and regulations and enter today! The contest ends November 16 and you can bet that I'll be entering, too! If I win another copy of this game, I'll simply pass it along to one of you!! (But I'm secretly hoping for a new console or gift certificate... )

Good luck and enjoy!

PujBaby tub

A quick note for all new mommies!

If you want to test out a new and interesting baby bath tub (folds flat, fits into bathroom sinks, soft foam...) go to this site and register to be a product tester.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Winners of 2 giveaways! at

I have the winners for the BeiBambini baby clothes and for the Bonefish Grill giveaways!

Please excuse my son's videography antics. I realized after we watched it that I couldn't go back and edit it since there were WINNERS and everything, so, well. You get to watch Evan's craziness and me yelling at him. It's so REAL it's SCARY.

Congrats to everyone!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

LifePics Review

Some of you might remember my whole escapades with making a personalized calendar 2 years ago... Oy. I swore I would never venture down that road again! So when I was contacted by LifePics to try out their photo site, I was a little leery. But hey, it was a free trial, and I don't have a calendar for 2010 yet, so I figured it couldn't hurt to try!

I am so glad I did! Either LifePics is really easy or the photo sites have all greatly improved since my last attempt at making a sweet family photo calendar, because it was a snap! The choices were ENDLESS (which did make it a bit harder for me to decide, since I like to explore every single option) and the applications were extremely simple to figure out. I loved that the layouts were up to ME. I can't stand it when the sites tell you where you can put your pics and how many, etc. I could have put 20 on one page, if the mood had struck to do so.

Here's a couple of my pages (excuse the photo quality on my end. The calendar itself is very clear and is a great quality of paper).
As with most sites, LifePics does way more than calendars. You can do all of your photo developing, including holiday cards, photo books and more, all from the same account. LifePics has generously offered a discounted rate for their products for any reader to use until December 31, 2009! If you enter the code LifePics05 for your promo code at your checkout, you will receive $5 off of any order over $15. Seeing as how the calendar is normally $20, you can get a calendar for 2010 for only $15! (See how good I am at math? Can you tell I homeschool?) (Each customer may use the code one time only!)

They also offer the options of either picking up your products at a nearby grocery/superstore (ours was at Jewel) or having it delivered straight to your home.

Be sure to keep them in mind for your next photo need!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Little Skink's Tail Review

What a sweet little book! This 2009 Teachers' Choice Award book is the tale of a tail that is lost to the little Skink when she tries to avoid a crow's sharp beak. Sadly, the crow gets a taste but at least little Skink survives since she can regenerate tails!

This book has lovely pictures and a sweet plot as we watch her "try on" other tails until her own grows back. Thankfully, she realizes the beauty of her own tail and is lucky that hers DOES grow back!

One of the best features of this book, and the others in the series, is at its end. Different questions and activities which help you and your child to review what you've read will help to reinforce reading comprehension.

I urge you to check out Sylvan Dell Publishing's web site. See if the tale of Little Skink's Tail appeals to your child, or if another story would suit a young one you love!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

$500 BeiBambini Baby clothes Giveaway!!

Contest is closed! See winners above!

I have been so excited about this giveaway! My fingers have been twitching as I worked out the details with my contact and it's finally done!

BeiBambini is an online retailer for children's clothing by Jeanine Johnsen. Simply adorable and very traditional while still being trendy, their baby clothes make me tilt my head and do that little "Ooh!" sigh that any woman who adores babies would recognize.

So, when I found out that I could offer 2 readers the chance to win a collection from last year's line, each worth $500? I almost considered getting knocked up, just so that I could keep one for myself!


Since that is NOT happening, they're available for you all!

BeiBambini has also generously offered a coupon code for everyone, winner of the giveaway or not, to use on their current lines. Just enter: bbVIP30 for 30% off of your ENTIRE order which includes their cruise wear which is ALREADY 50% off! We're talking some serious savings, making this designer clothing suddenly more affordable for everyone. But the coupon ends November 14th, so get over to their site NOW and get your orders placed!

Here's a sneak peek of the boy and girl collections for the spring/summer. Everything is sized 6-12 months, so keep in mind any baby boys or girls you know of that will work for those sizes!

Some sweet stuff for the boys...

And for the girls...

Eeeeee! Those really make my uterus ache...


Ok folks. The details on how to enter.

You HAVE to do #1 before you can do anything else!

1. Check out their site at and tell me what other articles make you oooh and aaaah. Trust me, it's a snap. Everything is adorable!

2. Subscribe to my blog!

3. Extra comment just cuz I love you all! (but you have to do #1 first)

4. Tweet this giveaway! (include the link!)

5. Blog this giveaway! (include the link!)


I will make 2 drawings and I can't put your name in if I don't know to put you in the boy or girl pile. Don't forget! I don't want to miss anyone just because you didn't put "girl" or "boy" in your comment!!

We'll pick the winners on Friday, Nov 6! Good luck to everyone!! (But U.S. Residents only! Sorry again, Canadian friends!!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bonefish Grill Giveaway

Who likes fish?

(Raises hand.) I am so excited to offer a $25 gift certificate to Bonefish Grill to one lucky reader!

Bonefish Grill has a menu that has me itching to get out and eat some seafood! Check and see if there is one near you and come back for a chance to win your own gift certificate...
They also do some outreach videos, documenting other small town restaurants, healthy eating, etc. Check out this one...

Ways to win:

~ Comment!

~ Subscribe to my feed

~ Tweet or post on your own blog and let me know.

Good luck to everyone (but US residents only. Sorry my friendly Canadian pals!). The winner will be drawn on Friday, Nov 6.

Simply Chickie review

Recently I was asked to review a children's t-shirt from Simply Chickie. I went to their site and picked out a very sweet design, which says "I am the Frosting."

Sweet, right?

The shirt design really is cute (as are all of the others) and the quality of the fabric is extremely soft and sturdy (And 100% organic cotton). It is marketed towards parents who are interested in "implementing an eco-friendly lifestyle." But I am not 100% sold on the shirt...

The picture on front is of the press-on sort which is fine for children's shirts. However, at $24 a shirt, I thought that the quality of the graphic would be higher. And once my mind started to go down THAT route, I couldn't figure out exactly what a $24 children's t-shirt should include. I know that I am extremely frugal when it comes to children's clothing, and that this shirt would definitely last a long time (probably longer than the graphic would) but I am not over-the-top in-love with the price for the product received. If it were half the price? Maybe. And I will admit that I am not one to spend extra money simply because it's organic. (I think it's better for the environment to buy used children's clothing, rather than purchase new which requires so much labor, shipping, etc.) But I look at a kid's t-shirt and see 1, MAYBE 2 seasons that they can wear it before it's too small or too stained. And if I'm investing $24 in an article of their clothing? It had better be really impressive!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winner of DT giveaway!

The winner of the Discovery Toys giveaway is....

(Please excuse my broken out face and crazy hair. We're homeschoolers, you know...)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Discovery Toys Review and GIVEAWAY!

CLOSED: Winner is... Mom 2 4! Congrats and I'll be sending you an email for your address!!

Back in the day when Justin was a wee one, I tried my hand at selling Discovery Toys. It didn't take me long to figure out that I had neither the drive to sell or the mindset to keep good track of income vs. expenses. I lasted a mere 18 months at it, but the main reason I had started selling was already paid for in the discounts I got on numerous, fabulous toys.

I still use many of them for schooling Corinne (shape sorting, counting games, an old cassette that had lots of songs for every teachable aspect you can imagine!) and they have all proven to be high quality toys. So, when I was contacted by Discovery Toys to review a toy for Corinne, I said "ABSOLUTELY. Just make sure it's a new toy, because I have all of the older and classic ones!"

We received THREE new toys! SCORE!

Jam Session, Flip Flop Faces, and Friendship Island arrived on our doorstep a few weeks ago and we have been having a great time trying them out.
Well, I already HAVE Flip Flop Faces as it is an older toy, but there is a reason it's been around for so long. It's a GREAT activity for a wide range of ages. With several different ways to play this game, it teaches everything from hand-eye coordination and color recognition to reading and math. It's a perfect game for parties, trust me! I do believe I know a certain little kid who will be getting this for Christmas, thanks to this review!

Friendship Island was a new game for our family. We have tons of board games. TONS. But with homeschooling, any new way to encourage Evan to read, Corinne to follow directions and Justin to be a helpful big brother is a new way to LEARN. It truly discusses the ways to resolve problems without allowing our emotions to carry us away. I am really grateful to have received this game as I have a particular child in this home that could use the reminders on "how to be a good winner or loser." I'm not pointing any fingers, though....

And finally, another new toy for our family, the Jam Session. A set of sturdy musical instruments with a play along cd (and bonus skill card for parents), the Jam Session came at just the right time for us, as well! I was wondering how I could use our older, "slightly" broken musical instruments from long ago to use in teaching music and music appreciation to my children. This new set (in addition to the cd) has provided me with several lessons of music class! Knowing how much Corinne enjoys music, singing and dancing, I am thrilled to see her marching around the house, leading her brother in a parade of 2. Of course, a parade shouldn't be just 2 people, so I have to join in at the end... I'm usually the castanets, lady... :)

Discovery Toys has generously offered a free Jam Session for one reader! I am so happy to be able to offer a fun, quality toy to one of you at this time of the year! Put it aside for Christmas or an upcoming birthday! Or simply surprise your little one with a fun new toy, just because you can.

To win:

~ Comment!

~ Twitter it!

~ Blog it!

~ Follow me!

~ Go to and tell me what other toy (besides the above 3) looks interesting to you!

(Lots of exclamation points, eh?)

One entry for each of the above. Just please let me know where to find your tweets or blogs, ok?

I'll pick the winner on Wednesday, October 21.

Good luck to everyone!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A winner!

The winner of our Gustafer Yellowgold toy and t-shirt is....

Congratulations! Enjoy and thanks to everyone for entering!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seeing Sunshine

I am so excited! I get to surprise Corinne with a girls' only day to see Gustafer Yellowgold at Schuba's in Chicago!! Eeeee!!

What? Don't know Gustafer? Dude. Don't you remember my post from April?!? Haven't you all memorized my ENTIRE BLOG yet?!? I thought I had sufficiently obsessed readers!


Just in case you don't know the music I am referring to, I give you this:

Weird but cool, right?

The best part is that Corinne and I actually both really like this music.

I. Am. Stoked.

The couple behind the music, Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak have offered a little gift for one reader. A plush Gustafer doll and a t-shirt from their site. :) I recommend you check out their music and, if you're in the Chicagoland area on Sunday, October 11, come out to Schuba's Tavern at 3159 North Southport. Let me know and I'll look for you. I'll be there with my own little rocker!

Leave a comment below and I'll pick a winner for the doll and shirt on Monday, October 5.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now...

Edited with winner!

Using our high tech methods of Eeny Meeny Miney Moe, I'd love to announce that "E" (Erin) is the winner of the children's sunglasses! I'll email you and get your info. Congrats and thanks for entering.

Thankfully, my kids have always liked wearing cool shades in the summer sun. Getting them to wear protective eye gear isn't a huge issue in my house. But I know that we are not the norm and that loads of children fling those puppies straight out of their strollers and wagons the moment their mothers try to sneak them over their unsuspecting eyeballs.

Not shy. Not even one iota...
Real Kids Shades is a line of fashionably sweet sunglasses, targeted at your little one's precious eyes. Their lenses provide "100% protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays while the wrap-around style minimizes exposure to peripheral light." They are shatterproof, lead-free and contain no bisphenol-A or phthalates. Perfect for the littlest wearer, they are a great pair of sunglasses for babies and toddlers! (It's not dirt. It's face paint from the fair. Swear to God.)

To win a pair for yourself, please visit their site and tell me in the comments which pair (and size) you would like to receive. (Corinne has the tangerine roses which are very cute, but I'm thinking a little boy might prefer something else. Yes?) I'll pick a winner with the help from one of my lovely assistants on Wednesday, September 23.

Extra entries for being a subscriber, tweeting, blogging, yadda yadda yadda. Be creative. If you do something extra that you think should earn you an entry, just tell me what it is. I get so tired typing out all of those details! I guess I could just copy and paste but that would require me to be a bit savvy now, wouldn't it? Don't you love that I have carried my rambling post-scripts over to my review blog?!? You cannot escape the lunacy that is MEEEE!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pet Rescue

I have a confession: My kids play a LOT of video games. As in, they play a number that I won't write on this site for fear of losing your respect. (Yikes. That must be a LOT, eh?) But no matter how much screen time they get, I WILL swear that I try to place the educational ones in front of them more often than not. Whether or not they respond to them or not isn't my point. My POINT (since you asked) is that I TRY.

One of the sites that I have raved about before is the Jumpstart site for younger children. Corinne LOVES it. I LOVE it. Can't say enough good stuff. Here, read my previous review... Check out their online site...

See? Good stuff.

I was absolutely tickled to have JumpStart contact me again, asking me to review their new game for the Nintendo Wii system, JumpStart, Pet Rescue. My family doesn't personally own a Wii, but my sister does! So Corinne and I headed on over to try out the new Wii game with my niece who is 4 years old. Here's Corinne's review of the game.....

Hmmm. She may have gotten a bit off-track there. Sorry! But she's just so dang cute, I couldn't resist! I love 3 year olds...

It has all of the good stuff that the online game had. Rated for Early Childhood by the ESRB, it focuses on the skills that are important to pre-schoolers and young learners, all within the context of an adorably sweet adventure-world.

For any of you lucky Wii owners who would like a chance to win a Pet Rescue game for yourself, head on over and enter! It's scary simple.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A book to read before you jump...

If I were looking for a book on skydiving, I would search for one written by someone who had actually, well, jumped out of a plane. Literature written by those who observe on the ground or even by the pilot would definitely have some interesting perspectives, but really? Can I REALLY understand what it is to ride up in that plane, stomach turning over in knots and wondering:

"Will I survive? Will I get injured? Is this REALLY a smart idea? Maybe someone else should jump!!"

Can a pilot who has never taken the leap into air honestly comprehend the emotions of someone free-falling for hundreds and hundreds of feet? Would his interpretations of that experience ever come close to first-hand knowledge?

That is the attitude I had when I began reading the book, Birth Day by Dr. Mark Sloan, a pediatrician and father. How can a MAN know enough about childbirth? How can someone without the proper reproductive parts even GUESS to know what childbirth is? Sure, he's attended hundreds, perhaps thousands, of births, including his own 2 children. Sure, he's cared for those babies and their parents for decades, guiding them through the typical new parent fears and questions. This definitely makes him qualified to answer questions about BABIES, but about pushing that infant out? I wasn't convinced.

After I got into the book, though, my opinion began to sway. Like a toy sailboat on the ocean, my thoughts bobbed every which way...

"Just because YOU had a male OB who wasn't sympathetic doesn't mean all male doctors are that way! Give the man a chance, self. Give him a chance..."

And because his knowledge and research is so vast, written in a style that even a non-medical mother such as myself could completely grasp all of the technical terms (without feeling talked down to), I admitted that I enjoyed this book.

I said it. I liked a book by a man doctor. What's next, military school for my boys?!?

Birth Day appealed to me not because it was about birthing babies. I KNOW about birthing babies. No, Birth Day kept me interested until the end because Dr. Sloan admitted to knowing nothing of what the mother really goes through. (I mean, we can all IMAGINE the pain of getting our legs crushed by a semi-truck, but we'll all admit that we have no IDEA of what it truly means, without having that experience first-hand.) He instead focused on everything that surrounds human childbirth and the reasons (both socially, economically and physically) that our methods of delivering our children have become what they are today. I now understand why the baby's entire body must turn mid-delivery, why feminism had an effect on medicated births, and why cesareans have risen so dramatically in the past generations. (I will also never call it a Cesarean Section, now that I know "Cesarean" actually MEANS "Section"...) He managed to educate me, his reader on topics I had never considered or understood. He also made me furious to hear that the US is one of the only developed countries that doesn't use Nitrous oxide as a pain management alternative. (Read Chapter 5. I really AM irked!)

But seriously, Birth Day was a lovely book. Dr. Sloan compiled a very thorough and honest book about childbirth and infancy that would be beneficial to any woman. Especially a woman who's wanting to jump out of a plane...

For other interpretations on Birth Day, check out the SVM Book Club discussions, going up this Wednesday on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wanna see my Mussel's?

Edited to add the winner!

My prayers were answered!! I asked for someone to send me something to review that I really, REALLY needed like FOOD, and the heavens opened and showered upon me great vats of delicious applesauce!!Well, not vats. That would be a bit much. But a BUNCH of applesauce. Like 6 packets of 4 individual servings! And Corinne and I have been having a blast trying them out. (It's pathetic, really, how much fun we have had eating applesauce. It may have something to do with our ongoing lack of a vehicle and method of escape from our home of family love...)

Musselman's new flavors and products of apple sauce arrived on my doorstep a week ago. Totally Fruit and Healthy Picks come in several flavors to keep the whole family satisfied. Strawberry, Raspberry Acai, Blueberry Pomegranate, Key Lime Cupuacu, (You don't even want to KNOW how badly I mangled that pronunciation...) Peach, and Traditional Apple. I have to say, my favorite is the Blueberry Pomegranate. DEEEE.LI.CIOUS. The Key Lime was very surprising. I tentatively placed a bite in my mouth (I mean, "Key Lime" and "Applesauce" just doesn't sound like it should go together, does it?) and found it to be a very mild applesauce with a slightly citrus tang. Quite tasty. The only flavor that didn't go over 100% for ME was the peach. For some reason the aroma just reminded me of baby food. I couldn't get past the olfactory memories to enjoy the taste, though Corinne still liked it.

And now, my friends, it thrills me to be able to offer this package of yummy goodness to one lucky reader! (Again, it REALLY thrills me. I honestly need to get out of this house!)

Way to Enter:

~ Comment below
~ Subscribe to my blogs
~ Twitter this post
~ Blog this post
~ Tell me your best memory involving applesauce. Keep it clean, folks. (But if you have a REALLY good one that actually ISN'T clean, can you email it to me?)

I'll pick the winner on Thursday, August 20!

Friday, July 31, 2009

SafeEyes giveaway

Updated August 14:

The winner is Leslie! Congrats and enjoy!

When your kids are little, the internet is a simple place. They are monitored while online 100%, simply for the fact that they could break something if you walk away! But as they age, you tend to walk away more and more, thinking "What can he possibly find at this age? He's so innocent and still loves Pokemon, for crying out loud!"

I will admit that I fell into that protected bubble. I felt my kids were relatively safe since I was never farther than a room away. And while I don't believe they would ever intentionally look for "bad internet stuff" I DO believe that "bad internet stuff" looks for them. I am NOT ok with that.

Enter the program,, SafeEyes. SafeEyes is a parental control software that gives you, the parent, control over what their little eyes are exposed to. It allows you to block (or not) certain programs, games, websites (by categories), instant messaging and more. SafeEyes can record inappropriate posting of personal information and will report it back to you. It even has the option of placing a time limit on their computer time!

At first, I wasn't sure it was working. I don't customarily go to websites that one would consider objectionable. None of my children use the internet for more than games or YouTube videos. But have you SEEN some of the YouTube videos that are allowed to be published? Some of them are nothing short of pornographic! I finally realized the value of SafeEyes when I was personally going through a friend's website but couldn't see the pictures. I was confused. What was wrong with my computer? Had I gotten a virus or something?

And then it clicked in my brain. This site had, in the past, had pictures that weren't 100% innocent (though not horrible, either). The pictures were definitely ones I would have wanted to review before allowing my kids to look through them. The program was working! And, the best part? I was able to turn it off easily so that I could still peruse the internet as an adult.

Right then, I was sold. My children are coming into an age where internet safety is a serious issue. You may be finding yourself in a similar situation. If so, I have a 1 year subscription to the SafeEyes program for 1 lucky reader!

Ways to enter:

~ Comment!
~ Subscribe to my blog
~ Tweet about this giveaway
~ post about this giveaway on your own blog

I'll pick the winner on August 14. Good luck!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Clay So Cute giveaway!

Updated on August 13:
The winner, picked by, is #9, Jane from Winning Readings! Congrats, Jane! I'll contact you today for your mailing information! Thanks to all for entering and good luck on the next giveaway!

If your kids are into art projects, then I have a truly fun giveaway for you!

Clay So Cute is a new book by Sherri Haab all about the cool crafts you can make with polymer clay. Though the releases all say it is designed with an aim towards 8-12 year old girls, I disagree. The projects in this book appealed to all 3 of my kids, none of which fall into that marketing bracket. My eldest son is 10 and is thrilled by the robots and animals. He and I could easily picture how to adjust some of the girlier jewelry pieces into boyish decorations. This book also sparked his enthusiasm to design some projects for Christmas presents. When that particular child is excited about anything art related, I jump ALL over it.

All of them loved these projects, all the way down to my 3 year old daughter who cannot make ALL of the crafts, for sure, but is able to be involved in the basics. After all, what 3 year old isn't proficient in playing with clay? Polymer clay is simply something she can make that will LAST.

I am so happy to be able to share this book with 1 lucky reader! Simply comment below and I'll pull 1 name on Thursday, August 13.

You can get extra entries by:

~ subscribing to my blogs
~ tweeting about this giveaway
~ post on your own blog with a link back

Easy! Good luck and have fun!

Monday, July 20, 2009

What Happened, Indeed?

"What Happened To the Girl I Married?" is the choice for July's SVM book club. I was truly excited about this book as the basic outline was said to chronicle one man's journey into becoming the stay at home parent for a year and finding out exactly where his wife had "disappeared" to. The description definitely fits, as the book is about the author's own discoveries regarding the impact that being an at-home parent can have on one's psyche.

Read the rest....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo Review

There are some books you read that just flow, you know? There are authors who write in a style that makes you believe you're actually having a conversation with them. While reading Jancee Dunn's new book, Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo? And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had To Ask, I found myself wishing she WAS in front of me, telling me these hysterical stories from her life as we drank a cup of coffee. I found myself wanting to meet not only her parents and sisters, but also her friend, Julie. I loved listening to the monologues of someone who understands that the situations we experience are only half of the story; the other half (the half that keeps you reading) is the method with which the story is told. Her unique interpretations are what made me fall in love with every single person in her book.

Though, I WAS a little put out that she ended it before her baby was born! NOW I'm left to stalk her on the internet to see if she had a boy or girl and how that is going for her. (Should make for a whole new slew of humorous memoirs!)

There are some books you receive that you just can't put down. This was one of them. I've never liked book reviews that go on and on about the little details or break a book into a long, drawn-out metaphor. Cut to the chase. If I like it, I like it and I'll tell you about it! And this book?

I liked it.

Take a break and curl up with a cup of coffee and "Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo...." and you won't be sorry.

Don't forget the 2 giveaways listed below that end on Friday the 10th!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Funky Monkey giveaway!

The winner is... LuvnLife00! Congrats! I'll email you today!

I'm always looking for snacks for my kids. New things that they will actually EAT and that, hopefully, aren't completely filled with sugar or garbage. Also, to put it delicately, one of my children (who shall remain nameless but is old enough to be past this stage) is extremely, um, finicky.


So, for him to actually try this snack and even like it? Pretty darn cool.

Funky Monkey sent us 4 different types of freeze dried, organic fruit. No sugar, no extra stuff. Just FRUIT! My picky kids liked 3 out of those 4! Jive-a-Lime, Purple Funk, Bananamon and Carnaval Mix. (I have to agree with them. The Carnaval Mix was not so yummy... But I may have hoarded the second bag of Jive-a-Lime for myself, and eaten it after they were asleep... Shhh.)
Well, except for her. She likes everything. Such a joy to feed!
Holy cow! I actually like it!

The folks at Funky Monkey are hoping you'll like their healthy snacks, too. Enter your name below for a chance to sample their 4 different treats. (Of course, if you don't win, you can find Funky Monkey at several stores found across the U.S.)

Extra entries for:

~ tweeting this giveaway
~ posting on your site
~ subscribing to my sites

I'll draw the winner on Friday, July 10

Good luck!

*Disclaimer: Of COURSE I am writing this because the company gave me the products to review. But I will always post my own personal, honest opinion about everything I review. And, if they pay me moola in addition? I'll let ya know. Carry on...


The Winner is Laanykidsmom! Congrats!

Day camp was fun.

Nothing like writing that cuts to the chase, right?
The weather was actually tolerable, in comparison to this week! (currently, at 8:30 am, it is 82 F which is cool and easy breezy compared to the 102 craziness of yesterday.) We had a couple of rainy days and a couple of hot days. None of them were so hot or so rainy that camp was cancelled, which, in my opinion, means "good weather." (this is what my blog has become? A lengthy discussion of the weather? shakes head in defeat...)

However, it WAS still June, and we did get some really warm days. There were water stations at every new activity for the boys to refill their water bottles, and thank God, because not all of them were actually drinking their water. As the day warmed up, so did the water bottles. Who wants to drink warm water?

Ha HA! I was drinking COLD water, THANK YOU! I was testing out some stainless steel water bottles from New Wave Enviro. Now, I know that "keeping the water colder" isn't a trait that the company posts or claims on their website. But, from personal experience? It DID.

We got to try the 40 oz, 12 oz and .6 liter bottles in the stainless steel collection. My only gripe? That the .6 couldn't use the mouthpiece for drinking out of the bottle. The 12 oz was just too tiny for one person for an entire day, and the 40 oz was way too big for Justin to carry around (but we shared it on our days we walked together). And giving a kid a bottle to drink water from that they take the lid OFF of? Not a good choice. However, they do have a 1 liter stainless steel that adapts to the pop-up sports caps. I think that would have been the best choice for a single person on a hot day.

My husband has even taken to bringing the 40 oz one to work on the hot dock. Anything that keeps him cooler and hydrated is my kind of product.

I hate using plastic bottles and try not to purchase any (though they still find their way into my house. I'm still scratching my head over that one). For those of you who "know" your environmental stuff, these stainless steel bottles don't have the lining that you're supposed to watch out for. Which, well, I'm glad! Because I didn't know I was "supposed" to watch for anything!

New Wave Enviro has offered the same water bottles for one lucky reader to win! Simply enter in the comments, and I'll pick the winner on Friday, July 10.

Extra entries for:

~ tweeting about this giveaway
~ posting on your site
~ subscribing to any of my sites.

*Disclaimer: Of COURSE I am writing this because the company gave me the products to review. But I will always post my own personal, honest opinion about everything I review. And, if they pay me moola in addition? I'll let ya know. Carry on...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Whole New Show...

Winner is, well, TONYA of course! Geesh! I don't have a very large Chicago following, do I ?

If you're a fan of all things Disney (as we are) you won't want to miss this opportunity!

1 lucky family will win 4 tickets to the opening week (July 1-11) of the live musical rendition of Aladdin! (if your family is bigger than 4, enter anyway. We'll work it out. I promise!).

From July 1 to August 30, The Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier will be performing one of my favorite Disney shows. I know my youngest will particularly love this show. This year, her favorite toy? Jasmine. I kid you not! How perfect to be offered the chance to attend!

All you have to do to win?

Comment below!

Extra entries?

1. post about this giveaway on your own blog.
2. tweet about this giveaway.
3. subscribe to this blog.

And for those of you who are interested, but don't win the tickets, the theater has offered a promotional discount code for any readers of Just Another Mommy Blog/Review Blog.

Simply go to and enter the promo code of MOMMY for $5 off your tickets!

I'll pick the winner on Thursday, June 25!