Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good Night, Little Sea Otter review

Aren't children's books the best? I love the stories behind the sweet characters that come to life when a great author and talented artist truly collaborate well.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Wish Williams* is a simple and sweet story of a little Otter who drags out the process of going to bed by saying good night to everyone and everything he can think of. It's not a new idea by any means, but the colors and precious faces of the characters make this bedtime story stand out for me. It's a definite recommendation for anyone with a little one. And at only $ 5.95 from Star Bright Books, I FULLY endorse its value!

Edited to add:

I have a book to give away!! Just enter below and I'll pick the winner on December 11. Good luck to everyone!!

Ways to enter:

~ Comment!

~ Follow me on Twitter.

~ Tweet this giveaway (2 tweets a day!) please link back.

~ Subscribe to my blog.

~ Post about this on your own blog and link back. (2 entries)

Good luck to everyone!!

*What a great name! Wouldn't you love to be called "Wish"? I wonder if he ever got called "Wishy-washy" though? Hmm...Naming a kid is HARD.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Legoland Excitement!

You may remember how much we liked Legoland this fall but in case you forgot...

Legoland Discovery Center in Chicago is having a neat contest! You can nominate a name for their landmark entry-way giraffe and, if you are the chosen winner, you will receive '4' year-long passes to Legoland in Chicago! How cool is that? Just go to their Facebook page, be sure to "Like" them and go to the November 22 post.

Even if you don't want to win, how about heading over and mentioning how much you like my personal name of "Francesca?"

What? You don't think Franny is a good name for a giraffe? Fine.

I'd like to see YOU DO BETTER!!

You can nominate until Dec 1 and voting begins on Dec 2. The winner will be announced at a special ceremony on Dec 31. Following the ceremony will be several fun activities for the whole family:

· The opportunity to participate in a 12-foot nutcracker group build

· Model Workshops that, in addition to ornaments and picture frames, teach guests how to build snowmen and penguins using LEGO bricks

· A scavenger hunt for hidden LEGO gift boxes inside MINILAND. Guests can enter their scavenger hunt card into a raffle for a 4-pack of annual passes

· Winter-themed creative challenges, with winners receiving special holiday prizes

· Commemorative holiday Factory LEGO bricks

· Discounts on food, drinks and photos

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday bow giveaway!

I recently received some lovely hair accessories for Corinne and they are just adorable! Check out her new headbands from Bad Seeds Boutique:

The "Grace" is her favorite because she likes flowers on the side of her head. My little flamenco dancer...

You can win a new headband for your little girl just in time for the holidays! You will have your choice of either the "Red",Or this lovely red and black headband:

(I do believe these are exact duplicates of what the Etsy designer, Amilie, will be accessorizing her own daughter with this Christmas!)

You can earn entries to win EITHER of these headbands by doing any or all of the following:

~ Comment with which headband you like the best!

~ Visit Bad Seeds Boutique and purchase ANY item there. You will receive a free gift with any purchase when you mention Just Another Review Blog! Comment back and let me know what you bought!

~ Follow me on Twitter.

~ Tweet this giveaway (2 tweets a day!) please link back.

~ Subscribe to my blog.

~ Post about this on your own blog and link back. (2 entries)

~ Follow Bad Seeds Boutique on Facebook (worth 5 entries) and say that you found them through Just Another Review Blog.

We'll pick the winner on Friday, December 3rd. The winner will be notified by email so BE SURE to provide a way to contact you or I'll have to choose a different winner!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Taste of Chicago Toy and Game Fair

First of all, I want to extend a huge, HUGE thank you to all of the sponsors who worked so hard to provide such a great experience for me and my family at Chitag this weekend. My children are begging to go again next year and my husband and I have a renewed interest in board games and family play-time.

Here is just a TASTE of what my family personally loved. I guarantee that you are seeing a majority of what will be beneath our Christmas Tree this year...The Razor Rip Rider 360 is INCREDIBLE. Evan and Corinne kept returning to this booth for more and more turns at spinning wildly on the big wheel/Razor scooter. It was invented by the 13 year old son of the owner of Razor! We just happened to sit at their table at the TAGIE awards on Friday night and they are a really, really nice family. If you're looking for a product to purchase as the "big present" for your kid on Christmas morning, consider this bike.

Dado has really cool building materials! With all of the cubes, planks and squares that interlock and stack in all sorts of interesting combinations, this booth held Corinne's (and MY) interest for quite some time! I recommend any of the building pieces for children with little siblings as they're not as choke-able (not a word, I know) as some of the itty-bitty blocks may be but you can still build really cool constructions!
And this game is one that I have to buy TODAY to make sure we have it under the tree on Christmas morning. Justin fell in love with the Catan Histories: Settlers of America. We were at the fair from 9 till 4 and he and his best friend spent TWO HOURS playing this game. TWO HOURS!! Combine history and a game and you've got my attention; Make it interesting to my kids and you've got my money!
Did you know that Silly Bandz makes new bracelets that STAND UP?!? They do! They stand up a tiny bit so that you can see the design while it's on!! You have to see it to understand it, but it's awesome and a certain girl in our house is getting a pack for Christmas... Evan wore their sticker on his mouth and for some reason, it's the only picture I have from that booth, but I HAD to mention it for stocking stuffers. Plus, my kid is cute.
Apparently, we are big Star Wars fans...
Really big...
Extremely BIG.

Ahem. I didn't WANT Evan in the picture, but the guys in the suits thought that that was what I was asking for. Once they realized I had wanted a picture of just ME with them, they thought that was pretty damn cool. They kept on raving about how awesome it was that I was the one who was excited about Star Wars. In fact, I do believe a Clone Trooper tried to pick me up...
Patrick worked really hard to get the raffle tickets for the Star Wars drawing and HE WON!!! We are now the proud owners of a collectible light sabre that my kids can't play with.

It's currently on display on top of my entertainment center. Pat has been zapping invisible evil forces all morning and making the sound effects because we don't have the batteries, yet. YET. Once it's juiced up, it will not only light up but also make the zzzzrrr zzzzzrrr noises when he waves it around. The anticipation is palpable.


Maybe I should have discouraged the raffle tickets?
About $20, Munchkin is a card game that Justin has played with his buddies many times. Our library even hosts a monthly Munchkin marathon every month. Needless to say, this is a definite purchase for my eldest this Christmas!
Patrick will NOT be getting this under the Christmas tree... But Daryl Hannah has some really cool games that are out including LIEbrary and Call It.
He WILL, however be getting THIS game! The two of us played Scrabble Flash for about 30 minutes and sufficiently ignored our children in a massive sea of people. It was AWESOME. Even Corinne butted in and got a round with 6 words! Also, any game that I can beat Patrick at is one that I like. Shhhh.... Keep it on the down-low.
Evan so, so wishes this Electrix RC car was going to be under our tree, but it's a bit high for our budget this year (about $120). Maybe a birthday present, though! Or perhaps for my tallest "child" who was also hoping to get a helicopter by the same company...
Cuponk! Ping pong balls and cups. Voila! A game that everyone likes! It's around $10 so it makes a great present for anyone.We already have Citiblocs at home but the exhibit at the fair has THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of Citiblocs to play with! Just look:Don't know what Citiblocs are? Check 'em out!
I have GOT to find this for Corinne. I do believe my dear daughter monopolized this Strawberry Shortcake remote control car on Saturday. But when we walked in and saw that they now have an entire LINE of the itty-bitty Shortcake dolls, including a HOUSE, I couldn't drag her away. LITERALLY.

Also loved but not pictured are Mega Bloks' Dragon Universe, Dig It! Games (I am so excited to try out the Roman Town Archaeology game! Evan will love it and I am going to love the history lesson it provides. Muwaaahaaaaahaaaa!! A Homeschooling mother is never off-duty!), and Top Trumps war games (with themes for every child - Corinne and her friend played the Dog themed game while eating lunch).

I'd also like to extend a thank you to the other sponsors at the Blogger Brunch:

Cold Stone Creamery - they have an 8 layer cake available now! EIGHT LAYERS. I tried the toffee one and it was absolutely divine!

Mary Kay - as always, they sell beautiful make-up while providing profitable careers for women. I am personally interested in trying their pressed mineral make-up.

Restaurant.com - An old-time favorite of my household! We used Restaurant.com for many Christmas presents last year! We used so many ourselves at all of our favorite places. You can usually purchase a certificate for around 50% off the value! Seriously, how could you NOT love that?

Playtex Baby - They've gone and updated the Diaper Genie. A foot release to keep hands on the baby, where they belong (Thankfully, no one's wearing diapers in my house!!)

InZone Brands Beverages - Juice on the go bottles with reusable and fun squirty lids. Very cute and very fun. As an endorsement of how tasty they were, all of my kids downed their juices in the fair after jumping on a big old bouncy thing!

The Fair is open RIGHT NOW!! There's still time to have a great time at Navy Pier's CHITAG 2010....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Human Tribe Project

Human Tribe Project Makes Caring a Fashion Statement

How many rubber awareness bracelets do you own? Do you inwardly groan when a cause you support comes out with yet another version? Are you tired of trying to make an orange, a blue and a fuchsia band work with the outfit you’re wearing to work that day? Have we reached the point where awareness bracelets are so prevalent they no longer create any awareness?

It all started back in 2004, when Nike teamed up with the Lance Armstrong Foundation for the Wear Yellow Live Strong campaign. Stamped with the cancer survivor’s LIVESTRONG mantra, the bracelets raised funds for research and touched off a craze among charities of all kinds.

tag photo.JPGWith millions of wristbands in a rainbow of colors to match a multitude of causes, Human Tribe Project, an online website dedicated to providing emotional and financial support to friends and family in crisis, decided to create an accessory that shows support in a more stylish fashion. The results are Tribe Tags -- dog tag–style necklaces and key chains – that are a way for Tribe Members to show visible support while raising money for the Tribe’s beneficiary. Available in both stainless steel and sterling silver, the necklaces include the Human Tribe Logo, as well as the initial of the person being supported.

“There’s something important about having a rallying symbol when people want to show their support,” says Human Tribe Project Founder Jaclyn Foutz. “But, when we created our company, we decided to develop something that would make a timeless fashion statement and would appeal to people of all ages.”

Human Tribe Project, a free website, was founded upon the premise that all people belong to a larger Tribe, and that this Tribe can be a powerful resource when one of its members faces a personal or health-related crisis. Each Tribe develops its own Tribe Page, a personalized webpage designed to help a Beneficiary communicate with and receive support from his or her Tribe during a crisis. Tribe Members also can purchase personalized Tribe Tags, dog tag-style necklaces and key chains, as a visible show of support and to raise money for the Beneficiary. Human Tribe Project functions like a non-profit organization, but chose not to have charitable status so that Beneficiaries will not be taxed on the monetary gifts they receive. Headquartered in Phoenix, Human Tribe Project can be found online at humantribeproject.com or on their Facebook page at Human Tribe Project.

Ribbon pins and rubber band bracelets have been around for ages, but Tribe Tags are personal. They carry the initials of the person the Tribe is rallying around to support. Plus, they’re affordable – the steel version sells for $20, with $15 going to the Tribe beneficiary as a tax-free gift. Sterling silver Tribe Tags sell for $100, $75 of which is given directly to the beneficiary.

The founder of the Human Tribe project developed it in memory of her long time friend from Chicago, who died from a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.

**I did not write this post but fully believe in it. I hope that this website provides some of you with not only a neat Christmas idea, but also a way to feel good about what you're spending your money on.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Musselman strikes again!

The best part of fall is the delicious food that warms you up when the weather is cooling off. And one of my all-time favorite foods for fall is apple cider. Holy moly, Musselman's apple cider ROCKED our socks off this week! In fact, I am sipping on a hot mug of it right now...

Jealous? Well, you can get your own! And you can add some yummy Musselman Apple Butter to your toast while you're at it. You can find coupons for them here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Circus is in Town!

We had such fun at Funundrum this week!! Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus never fails to entertain my family.

There's still time to enjoy the show and save money for tickets. Use the code MOM at Ticketmaster to get a 4 pack for $44 during the week or save $4 on weekend tickets (certain dates apply). They'll be in Chicago until November 28 and there are still tons of great seats available.

Our favorite acts this year:

Me: girls who could literally tie themselves into knots. AMAZING.

Corinne: the miniature horses doing amazing tricks.

Evan: Tiger tamer!

Justin: Though disappointed that they didn't have the man in a rocket this year, he liked the finale with the parade and confetti and music.

Patrick: The motorcycle ball of death! I was literally on the edge of my seat!