Friday, December 23, 2011

Disney on Ice Giveaway!

Special Savings Offer and Activity Card from Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream

If you need a little something extra for the stocking or tree think about tickets to Disney On Ice Dare to Dream! It is a great gift for excitement on Christmas and a lasting memory. The Gift of Memories download tells your little princess she’ll be attending the show and lets her create her own princess crown. The best part is - it’s quick and easy – use the below discount and gift download to print everything you need right now. No additional stores to stop at or lines!!!!!

You’ll get 4 tickets for $44 on Weekday Shows or Save $4 on weekend shows. Simply use code MOM on through this Ticketmaster link:


Comment below to tell me what you have done!

I’ll email the winner Saturday morning/night so you can download the Gift of Memories activity card for an extra special Christmas!

Playing at:

Allstate Arena Jan. 26 – 29 & United Center Feb. 1 – 12

You’ll get tangled up in the newest thrilling show to hit the ice, Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream. Experience Disney’s hilarious hair-raising escapade, Tangled; as Rapunzel, her unlikely companion, Flynn, and Maximus, embark on an uproarious journey that takes adventure to new lengths! Boogie to the beat of the bayou with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and the Frog, in a magical, musical journey that all begins with a fateful kiss. And fanciful dreams become reality as Cinderella meets her Prince Charming, with a glass slipper fit for an unforgettable fantasy come true. All your favorite princesses take to the ice in a spectacular finale at the ultimate Disney Princess event of a lifetime! Experience the beauty, sparkle, and spirit when Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream comes to the Chicagoland Area!

(So sorry to do a cut and paste blog post from the media release, but this is a last minute give away and I am BUSY!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

$250 American Express Gift Card Giveaway

I have a giveaway for a $250 American Express gift card on my Mommy Blog!! Be sure to check it out!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Junie B. Jones at the Emerald City Theater

Exposure to live theater is such a gift to give to a young child. Unfortunately, many theaters are extremely expensive and don't often cater to the young ones. Nor do they appreciate a shouted "Hi!" from your overly excited 3 year old who is IN LOVE with the character that just dashed across the stage.

The Emerald City Theatre in Chicago is a treasure to families with young ones because they DO cater to the youngest of theater-goers! With upcoming shows like Junie B. Jones and If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, you can rest assured that not only will your kids LIKE the performance, but will be welcomed with open arms. (Plus, they have the best snack bar: Fruit Chews! Kid Treats! And not for a ridiculous price!)
We'll be attending the Junie B. Jones show next week and can't wait to see one of our favorite book characters come to life! I hope you check them out for your own family!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smilegram Review and Discount Code

Looking for a stocking stuffer for a young writer? Smilegram may just have what you are looking for...Full of fun and beautiful children's stationary, Smilegram Paper's store has something for everyone! I know that Corinne enjoyed her adorable set of "Allie's Ice Cream" stationary. With the smooth surfaces and large, dotted lines, it was perfect for her to help me write out her own birthday party invitations! There are tons of varieties (my favorite being the "Fun Jumpin Froggies") that are sure to make the young writer in your life smile. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Smilegram is offering you a discount of 20% off your purchase if you use the code: HOLIDAY good until December 15, 2011.

No Name Meats Giveaway and Review

You gotta give credit to a company that is so sure of its products' quality and value that they actually choose the name of "No Name" for its company's NAME!

As they say, "Amazing Taste: No Name needed."

I just love clever but simple advertising phrases.

Especially when they're right.

Their food IS good. My family was sent 2 coupons to try out chicken and/or steak for dinner one night. Sadly, our store didn't have the steak varieties, but we brought home 2 varieties of No Name's chicken and popped them in the oven. An hour later, and the house smelled divine! Everyone, including my picky eater, enjoyed the chicken. Moist but not gooey (Gooey=death for our finicky child), they were absolutely delicious!

No Name has offered up a great giveaway for one reader: Coupons for a free package of steak, a free package of chicken and $5 off of any additional product! No Name is available in most Jewel and Meijer stores, but you can check their local availability on their site.

Mandatory Entry:

~ You must follow No Name Premium Meat and Seafood on Facebook and comment on their site that you are there from Just Another Review Blog's giveaway.

Extra Entries:

~ Follow me on Twitter.
~Subscribe to my blog(s).
~ Tweet about this giveaway.
~ Link back about this giveaway on any social media site and leave a link back, please!

Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry!!!

Good luck! We'll pick the winner on Monday, November 28.

Comments are closed:

Winner is #11, Vicky! Congrats and thank you to everyone for entering!

2 New Xbox 360 controllers by Power A

Like most families with school-aged children, we have a video game system. A couple of systems, actually. Our favorite and most used is the Xbox 360. Why is it the favorite? I don't know for sure. The games are the best? The graphics? The set up of the system? All of the above, and more, actually.

One thing that SUCKED about our Xbox was the expensive wireless remote controls we owned. My children loved them, that's for sure. And so did my husband. After all, they could bounce around the room without worries about cords. Of course, that also led to the frustrated cries of "Where is the remote control?!?" and "Do we have any more rechargeable batteries with juice left?!? I'm in the middle of a game and my batteries died!!!" Oh, the agony. Especially for ME, because they always managed to steal MY rechargeable batteries that I keep juiced up for my camera! Needless to say, my camera was often lacking enough energy to actually TAKE the pictures I wanted to take.

Much swearing occurred.

Remote controls were routinely taken away as punishment for Mom's inability to capture the candles being blown out or the first bike being ridden.

That is alllll over, my friends. I was recently sent 2 remote controls by PowerA for our Xbox 360 to review. They have tons of fabulous features, but for me, the best one is that we are CORDED AGAIN. No batteries have been needed and no remotes have been lost.

I imagine this is what Nirvana would be like. Except I would be alone and there wouldn't be any children or video games. Hmmm...

These are PERFECT for Christmas.
The first is the Air Flo Controller for the Xbox 360 which has a built-in 2-speed cooling fan. Yep. You heard me right. It has AIR CONDITIONING FOR YOUR HANDS. No sweaty controllers!! (I think that this feature needs to be installed on exercise equipment at all fitness centers!) It also sports a softer grip and ergonomics but really, for my middle child and husband (who like this new one the best), it's all about the cool hands. It retails for about $39.99.
The second is the Mini Pro EX Controller. It's less expensive at $29.99 and features a smaller, tighter design. It's great for smaller hands (like my 6 year old daughter's) and is just a slightly different shape than the traditional controllers we owned (making this one my 12 year old's favorite controller). Also? It GLOWS if you turn on a special button. A glowing remote = Awesome for the under 18 crowd.

Pump It Up Giveaway!

My kids all love the movie Happy Feet and are starting to get pumped up over the release of the new movie, Happy Feet 2. So it was with a huge smile that I happily agreed to review the freshly released video game, "Happy Feet Two" for our Wii. The makers of Happy Feet have teamed up with the indoor play areas known as Pump It Up to bring an AWESOME contest to all of you!

Simply by posting a video on their Facebook page (about 30 seconds to 3 minutes) of your rendition of what having "happy feet" means to you, you will be entered to win an entertainment center/flat screen tv/video game console/video games, etc. There will be 8 winners of varying prizes!

Visit Pump It Up Party on Facebook to enter today. Hurry! The Contest ends on December 18!

*Certain rules and restrictions apply. Be sure to read all of the official rules for FULL details.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eden Loves Bloggers

Eden Cafe

Have you heard about the program offered by Eden Fantasys for bloggers? You can work with Eden Fantasys in many ways to earn money and products. Choose to advertise on your sidebar, review products on a monthly basis, or on an affiliate basis.

Their qualifications are simple: update regularly on a blog that is at least 3 months old and they want to talk to you. Very few companies are so open about their requirements.

Hope you check their site out and give it a thought!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Legoland Discovery Center - Holly Jolly Holidays and Advent Giveaway!

Ever since Justin was old enough to hold a Duplo block in each hand, my family has been building with Legos. We currently contain 95% of them in the boys' room in buckets, on shelves and under dirty laundry, but there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not stepping on a random dot or rescuing a mini figure from underneath the kitchen table. So it stands to reason that my children all truly enjoy the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, IL.

As Christmas approaches, Legoland is decking their halls with a life-sized Lego Santa, various holiday games and wintry lego creations to build in the Lego Workshops. I can't wait to see how the venue gets decorated!

WHEN: December 9 to January 1

Doors open at 12 p.m. Mon. – Fri. and 10 a.m. Sat. – Sun.

Holiday hours begin Dec. 17 with doors opening at 10 a.m. Mon. – Sun.

WHERE: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago

Streets of Woodfield

601 N. Martingale Rd.

Schaumburg, Ill.

Legoland Discovery Center has generously offered a Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar set for one lucky reader! Follow the directions below and good luck. We'll pick the winner on Monday, November 21.

Mandatory Entry: Like Legoland Discovery Center on Facebook

Extra entries:

~ Comment! Tell me what your favorite Lego memory is!

~ Follow me on Twitter

~ Subscribe to any of my blogs

~ Tweet about this giveaway and link back (once a day, please)

Good luck!!

Comments are closed:

Winner is #14.... Sabrina! Congrats and thanks to all for entering!

*disclaimer: I was given the Advent product and also tickets to Legoland Discovery Center in exchange for a review but all opinions remain my own.

Tenzi Review and Giveaway

As many of you know, I homeschool my 3 children. During the days, we do varied activities to encourage different thinking skills. One new game we've been playing is a dice game called Tenzi that I received as a review. Tenzi is one of those games that is fun because of its simplicity in instructions and game play. The entire family can play it (even the 6 year old) and the entire family has fun while doing so.

With several ways to play, the basis of the game revolves around each player rolling ten dice to achieve a goal. The goals can be to roll the same number on all of your dice before everyone else or to roll collections of certain numbers. It encourages my kids to think quickly, recognize the numbers in dot form and to manipulate their fingers and hands on something other than a video game remote... We've even gone so far as to design our own games that include quick adding and patterns within the different dice colors.

At $14.95, Tenzi may be that extra present you need for that hard-to-shop-for person in your life.

Want to win your own Tenzi game in time for Christmas? Then follow the directions below and Good luck! We'll draw the lucky winner on Monday, Nov 21!

To Enter:

MANDATORY: Like Tenzi on Facebook.

Extra entries:

~ Follow me on Twitter

~ Subscribe to my blog(s)

~ Tweet about this giveaway and link back (once a day)

Good luck!

*I was given this product in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lights and Sounds toddler bike review

The Lights and Sounds Racer by Radio Flyer is an adorable bike for the toddler or preschooler in your life. It's priced at about $40 and offers an easily adjustable seat, comfortable pedals and handlebars and some of the best songs and sounds my daughter's heard. Sadly for her, this little bike is destined to be used by her little cousin as Corinne is almost 6 years old (48 inches tall) and a touch too tall for this bike.* I do hope my nephew loves it as much as she does, though!

One negative for me was the assembly, but I've had similar problems with toddler bikes of this type. I am a word/picture girl and the directions seem to only come in less-than-understandable picture-form. That could be just me, but be sure to allow plenty of assembly time BEFORE you hand this present to a 2 or 3 year old because they are NOT going to want to wait the hour that it takes you to pound those wheel caps on and screw the dozens of screws in. That said, it's pretty darn sturdy, now that it's all put together!

My opinion is that this is a good purchase for the price and totally appropriate for a 2-5 year old. I picture many Radio Flyers under the Christmas trees this year!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Win a romantic weekend in Lincolnshire, IL!

If you're looking for a unique weekend away, check out the Viper Alley site for information regarding their Ultimate Romantic Weekend contest. There are three different winners for some really exciting packages including tickets to a Sweetest Day concert by Steve Tyrell (modern day love crooner!), overnight stays at upscale hotels in the Lincolnshire area, massages, limo rides, dinner, breakfast, etc. Plus (and you don't want to miss this one), a chance to hang out with me and Patrick (we'll be at the Friday night show)!

To enter, read the official rules and then fill out their form by 9 am, October 17. Don't forget to include why you need a romantic weekend!

Good luck!

Disclaimer: I am receiving complimentary tickets to the Viper Alley venue in compensation for this post. All opinions remain my own.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicago Toy and Game Fair Giveaway!!

I am so pumped up about attending the 2011 Chicago Toy and Game Fair (i.e. CHITAG)! My family had an absolute blast last year. We found tons of games and toys that the kids not only liked but actually LOVED. 2010's Christmas morning found my children opening Catan's Settlers of America, Munchkin, a Razor Rip Rider 360 and Razor spark scooter, Strawberry Shortcake's remote control car, and Top Trumps (to name a FEW), all of which were discovered at CHITAG. So I am definitely attending with a pen and paper and camera (and maybe even a few bags in case we find something we just HAVE to have that day) to keep track of the Must Have items of this year.

CHITAG also hosts a truly unique contest for children, too. It's called the Young Inventor's Challenge. If you have a kid who is into creating new games and toys, or just has a wild imagination, why not enter him/her in the Challenge and see if one of their crazy ideas is the next Big Thing in the Toy and Game world? Did you know that if your child enters to participate in the Young Inventor's Challenge, your entire immediate family can enter the fair for free? It's such a cool way to inspire your children to think outside the box!

Excited to attend? Wish that you could go, and wish that you could go for FREE?

Well, it just so happens that CHITAG has generously extended the offer of Free Family Weekend Passes for my readers! And not just one pass. But one pass for every week leading up to the fair! FIVE WINNERS!

All you need to do is enter below, as many times as you can (please follow the rules) and I will continue to pick from the list every Friday as it grows! This means that you will basically have 5 chances to win a family pass for every single comment you enter below.

Don't know if you're 100% sure about this event? Don't know if playing with toys all day will appeal to your children? (HA!) Check out these pictures and see if you change your tune:
The Toy and Game Fair is being held at Navy Pier in Chicago on Nov 19-20. Sat hours are 10am-6 pm and
Sun hours are 10am-5pm.

To Enter for a chance at 5 different Family Pass Drawings for the Chicago Toy and Game Fair
(parking is not included) (please enter one comment for each entry!):

~ Comment below! You can say hi or tell me your shoe size or why you want to go. Surprise me!

~ Follow me on Twitter

~ Follow ChitagFair on Twitter

~ Tweet this giveaway and link back. 2 entries a day!

~ Subscribe to my blog(s).

~ Spread the word about this giveaway on any other social media site that you belong to and link back!

Good luck! We'll start picking the winners this Friday night (Oct 14), so get cracking as fast as you can for the first chance to win a family pass. But if you aren't picked, just remember this: 4 more chances to win!

First winner on Friday, October 14 is Clementine! Congratulations to her! For everyone else, there are still 4 more drawings, so keep on entering!

Second winner on Friday, October 20 is Lceel (Lou)! Congrats, Lou! For everyone else, are still 3 more drawings, so keep on entering!

Third winner on Friday, October 27 is Steph! Congrats! For everyone else, there are still 2 more drawings! Good luck!

Fourth winner on Friday, November 4 is Heather. Congrats, Heather! For everyone else, there is still 1 more drawing. Good luck!

Fifth winner is MeghanW. Congrats, Meghan!

Contest is closed.

*disclaimer: I was given a pass to attend the Chitag with my family in compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Greatest Show on Earth Returns! And a GIVEAWAY too!

Contest is over and MEP is the winner! Congrats and have a blast!

It's that time of year, again! The circus is coming back to Chicago and my family couldn't be more excited! Every fall, ever since I can remember, The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey LinkCircus tours through the Chicago area. And every year, we try to attend because their circus is just the Top Bar for circuses, isn't it?

This year we get to experience the all new show, Fully Charged. Of course Fully Charged will exhibit a tiger tamer, flying acrobats and the hilarious Ringling Clowns. But one of the best parts of going to the circus is the excitement of not knowing what other crazy and outrageous acts will follow. I try to hide the special acts from my kids, so that they get the full experience of WOW! But if you really want a little sneak peek into the action...

Planning on attending? The Circus will be in Chicagoland for several weeks. And remember: you can use the code MOM when purchasing through Ticketmaster to receive $4 off of all weekend tickets or to purchase a 4 pack of tickets for $44 on a weekday!

Allstate Arena
November 3-13, 2011

United Center
November 16-27, 2011

I have a 4 pack of tickets for one reader to win! Enter a comment below for a chance to win. You can get extra entries for every tweet, Facebook, blog post, etc. that you do. Just please remember to comment for each entry and link back!

We'll pick the winner on Oct 23.

The shows available are November 3,9,10 (at the Allstate) and November 16 & 17 (At the United Center).

Good Luck!!

*Disclaimer: I was given tickets for my family to attend the show, but all opinions remain my own.

All pictures are copyrighted and used with permission from Feld Entertainment.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why Buy When You Can Rent for Less?

I am so interested by this site, Knowing exactly how high the cost of college books are and how little resale value they have, the idea of renting a textbook greatly appeals to me. You pay less than half the price of the book to rent it, without any hidden fees for memberships or what-not, and then, once you are done, you return it. End of story. If you want to buy it instead of returning it, you just pay the remaining amount of the original cost past what you paid to rent it for. Kinda like RedBox for College books, eh?

Anyone with college students this semester or next should look into this option for books. Try out a few books and let me know how it works out for you. I am REALLY interested in this. If my own kids' college experiences still utilize paper books (ha. We'll probably have computer chips in our brains by then), then I fully intend on utilizing this service!

Also, I can't help but be intrigued by a company that helps support a charitable organization like Operation Smile. If you've never heard of Operation Smile, it's an organization that offers medical help for people who suffer from cleft lip/palate and other facial deformities. They do amazing work and make a huge difference in many lives.

Disclaimer: I will receive a discount code for half off the cost of a semester of college book rentals for my cousin in exchange for this post. However, all opinions are my own.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Getting Ready for Halloween?

I am usually the last person in the family to get decked out for Halloween. Not that I don't dress up, because I do. I've been everything from the Cat in the Hat to a pumpkin in recent years. It's just that everyone else's costumes tend to come before my own. They all get store-bought or carefully crafted homemade costumes while I have to do a last-minute rummage through the donation box for a flannel shirt that I can tape some raffia to in an attempt to look like a "festive" scarecrow. Yet another perk of Motherhood...

So it's refreshing when I can find sites like that have plenty of Women's Costumes for me to browse through. Their site has the spooky and creepy in addition to the hysterical and slightly off the wall. (I like the Sperm. How perfect for the guy who is just a little brain dead...) It's especially nice to see that, though many costumes DO, not all of their costumes have the word "sexy" in the title. I just don't think I can pull off "sexy" at Halloween.

Then again, this Olympic Goddess costume is quite appealing but still appropriate to wear around the family as we trick-or-treat. At $32, it's affordable and I already have the hair to complete the look... Hmmmm...Either that, or I go for the Sally costume from Nightmare Before Christmas. Wouldn't that be awesome? I love any opportunity to paint stitches on my face... Of course, THAT costume looks like it'd be fun to MAKE. Not that I have time to sew, or anything...

What do you think, dear readers? Go for a little sass this Halloween? Spooky or Sultry? Store bought or Home Made? Or put on the good old Cat in the Hat coat, tail and top hat and slouch along behind the kidlets in their kicking costumes?

Do you dress up for October 31? Do you deck the house in cobwebs and screeching ghouls? Do you watch from the windows or carry your own goody bag? Are you normal or are you a fellow freak, like me???

Though I was compensated for this review, all opinions and thoughts are strictly my own.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

3 Winners!

Winners have been chosen but there is an issue with the video that I took and I can't upload it! Aaarggh!!

Since I know that some of you would like to have the information now, I will post the winners' numbers and names that we picked from the hat and update with a video once I figure out why it is stuck in limbo-land.

The winner for the Musselman's Applesauce package is #5 which is Sagessa. (#1 and #2 are in the first entry from Facebook).

The winner for the Personalized Photo Mug is #3 which is Kristine (Wait in the Van)

The winner for the SportBrella umbrella and chair is #5 which is CherylAlanna. Cheryl, I need to have an email contact to reach you and there is only the blank Blogspot page attached to your link. If I don't hear from you in 48 hours (Thursday before 5 CST) I will have to go to the next person in line for the umbrella and chair. Contact me ASAP!

Congratulations to you all! Thanks for entering and please come back for the next giveaways I host!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

If You Are Having Problems Commenting

It has come to my attention that people may be having issues posting comments on this blog. If you can't comment, please email me at mctrickyb at sbcglobal dot net with the words "JARB comment" I will do my best to figure out what is going on, but I am not a super-tech person and will be leaving for BlogHer on Weds morning.

Sorry for the issues!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sport-Brella Chair and Umbrella Review and Giveaway

When I did my little review interview on NBC last week, there was one product that didn't quite arrive in time. Thankfully, it appeared on my doorstep on Monday morning. I am THRILLED about this chair!

The Sport-Brella Chair by Sport-Brella

The Sport-Brella Chair is the ultimate chair for any outdoor setting. It is a portable fold-up sport chair, but unlike other fold-out sport chairs, it has an attached 360 degree swivel umbrella which can be moved from one side of the chair to the other and can be swiveled at 3 different points at the push of a button to offer complete coverage from the sun and wind at any conceivable angle. The umbrella opens out to 46 inches wide and has a UPF 50+ lining for maximum sun protection. The Sport-Brella Chair also has a built-in cup holder, bottle opener and item pouch. Folds down instantly and fits into a compact carry bag. $39.99

My husband and I have been going to The Indy 500 for a few years now. I saw this chair on the sidelines last May and thought "Brilliant! I wonder where I can get one of them?" Well, now I know. It's by Sport-Brella, too and is actually way cheaper than I originally thought it would be. I guarantee that we will be using this chair at not only soccer games and camping but at the Indy 500 in 2012!

This next product WAS featured on the interview and is completely awesome as well...
The Sport-Brella XL by Sport-Brella

The Sport-Brella XL gives the whole family instant protection from the sun, rain, and wind with its domed shape, side flaps and 125 SPF. Its umbrella action open mechanism allows it to be set up in just three seconds and fits the family, fully 9 ft. wide. Includes top wind vents, side zippered windows for efficient airflow and additional visibility, internal pockets for gear and valuables, convenient carry bag and tethers/ground stakes for use when necessary for additional stability. $69.99

I am SO STOKED about the Sport-Brella XL!! We love camping, fishing, and going to the beach, but all of those activities can truly stink when it is 95 degrees and sunny. Just last year, my middle son almost had heat stroke at Lake Michigan's beach and he is WAY too big for me to carry across the dunes! I'm thrilled to bring the Sport-Brella XL to the Dunes with us this August and to continue to use it for any outdoor events that occur in the elements. If you purchase this, just be sure to take the directions out of the pouch with the stakes. Mine was a little stiff to manipulate, at first but is a breeze to set up now! In fact, we used it this weekend for a bit of shade during our lunch in Six Flags' parking lot. What a help!

Want your own chair and umbrella? Sport-Brella is generously offering one set (one winner) as a giveaway!

How to Enter:

Each item you do counts as a separate entry. Please do a different comment for each one! We'll pick the winner on August 15!

Ways to enter:

~ comment! Easy as pie.

~ Visit and tell me what you'd like the most.

~ Follow me on Twitter or my blog.

~ Tweet, post, Facebook, or spread the word about this giveaway on any other social media site and link back. (no limit! Have fun spreading the word, but please leave a comment for each entry!)

Good luck!

Musselman review and giveaway

When we received our basket of delicious goodies from Musselman's, I had GRAND PLANS. Plans, I tell you! Plans for slowly devouring the individual packages of strawberry applesauce myself. Plans for creating the unique salsa recipe they provided for the 4th of July and documenting it all with gorgeous pictures of joyful family members reveling in my awesomeness. Plans! Plans! Plans!

Man makes plans and God laughs, right?

Well, har-dee-har-har.

After some camera issues and other small malfunctions, I had to go with a different choice. Especially since my daughter had eaten most of the applesauce by that time...As usual, her favorites are the applesauce/fruit combinations. Mine involves anything with the Apple Butter. Mmmm... apple butter....

Musselman's has offered an assortment of their delicious sauces and apple butter for one reader. (picnic basket not included).

Follow the directions below for entries. We'll pick the winner on August 15! Each item you do counts as a separate entry. Please leave a different comment for each one!

Ways to enter:

~ comment! Easy as Apple Pie.

~ Visit and tell me what you'd like the most.

~ Follow me on Twitter or this blog.

~ Tweet, post, Facebook, or spread the word about this giveaway on any other social media site and link back. (no limit! Have fun spreading the word, but please leave a comment for each entry!)

Good luck!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Coffee Mug giveaway

One of my new "favorite things" is my specialty coffee mug by I can't think of a better wayt to start my day than with a hot cup of coffee, served with smiles from my family...

(picture here)

...especially since they're in picture form. Nobody can speak while I'm drinking. Ahhhh....

Want your own cool mug?

Then enter below and I'll pick a winner via our fancy method of Name in A Hat on Monday, August 15. Each item you do counts as a separate entry. Please do a different comment for each one!

Ways to enter:

~ comment! Easy as pie.

~ Visit and tell me what you'd like the most.

~ Follow me on Twitter or this blog.

~ Tweet, post, Facebook, or spread the word about this giveaway on any other social media site and link back. (no limit! Have fun spreading the word, but please leave a comment for each entry!)

Good luck!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Star of the Sea book review

Yet another fabulous book by Janet Halfmann! "Star of the Sea" is less of a storybook and more of an educational book about the amazing lives of sea stars. You probably knew that they can regrow a lost limb, but did you also know they could extend their stomachs FROM THEIR BODIES so that they can digest other sea creatures without cracking the shells? I do, now. My kids and I have read this book several times and now know a WHOLE LOT about this particular animal. Ms. Halfmann's words are easy for my 5 year old to digest but interesting enough to keep my 9 year old's attention and even garnered several comments from my pre-teen (from across the room, naturally. He didn't want to be caught being interested in a picture book!).

As a homeschooling family, every book we read can become an educational opportunity. Star of the Sea has definitely fit that bill!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes - a Review

I received a really cool book to review a while ago. Titled, "Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes" it's a challenge to the owner to break out of your comfort zone and create MESSES.

I love this concept! One page suggests the idea of dropping blobs of ink on a page and creating a character around it. Another directs you to take a hammer and chalk and pound it into the page until pulverized, just to see the result. Basically, this book is about destroying the pages, simply to realize that art knows no boundaries and creativity exists in everything.

I had thought to have this be a book for Justin whose special situation includes an extreme aversion to any project that isn't clearly outlined. He likes rules and directions with a known outcome and this book was and is the anti-christ of all art projects. He managed to eek out a few pages, but it was honestly painful for the entire family and I needed to give this book a review!!

Evan had been watching the whole process with Justin and The Mess Book. As my frustration with Justin grew, Evan's curiosity became more evident. "Can I do that book if Justin isn't going to?"

I slapped my head when I realized that I had, yet again, forgotten which child I should have targeted!! My little boy who is always making messes but has strayed from spontaneous art would LOVE this book.

And so, we began to Mess it Up:Using WASHABLE markers on the cover was an interesting lesson. From now on, if you hold our Mess book, you will, in fact, become MESSY...

Coffee grounds...
Leftover spaghetti!
Painting without looking...

I totally endorse Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes for anyone looking to remember how to be spontaneous and enjoy the process of art without focusing so much on the outcome.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fur and Feathers - a review

We are personal fans of the author, Janet Halfmann. She writes stories that are sweet and educational without feeling like knowledge is being stuffed down a kid's throat. Her book, Fur and Feathers, does just that, once again.
Little Sophia has a wonderful dream in which she discovers what type of body coverings different animals have. She finds creative methods of recreating their natural fur/feathers/scales in a seemingly bottomless sewing kit. The beautiful illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein capture a feeling of sweet innocence that reinforces a lesson about the creatures of our world.

Once again, I am happy to read one of Ms. Halfmann's books to my kids and I truly recommend checking this story out!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Legoland Discovery Center - Star Wars Weekend!

If your kids like Lego Star Wars, and you live in the Chicagoland area, then head over to the Legoland Discovery Center site to purchase your tickets to this weekend's Lego Star Wars Weekend! At the media preview last night, my family and I had a blast checking out the Chicago skyline destruction that the droids brought upon us. It was SO COOL. As in, way too cool for a little boy who is a Lego Star Wars freak...I believe that part of the Wrigley Building is on the street, surrounded by droids...
Life sized R2 and Darth Vader alongside life sized Evan.
Tons of actors!
A clone checking out my boys' race cars...
Corinne appears to have issues with Obama's proposal for extended school days...

Seriously, buy your tickets ASAP because they're selling out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins

My family recently went to see an early screening of Mr. Popper's Penguins starring Jim Carey. Initially, I had thought it would be a silly children's movie and only attended because I knew they wanted to watch it. I had seen the previews and they presented the movie in a ridiculous light, focusing on penguin poop and one-liners. While the movie DID contain plenty of poopy one-liner jokes, it was actually quite good! I enjoyed the storyline and only became annoyed once or twice by the over-the-top humor that Jim Carey tends to bring to a movie. You'll find that the moral to the story is love, love, love; what's better than love?

All in all, I honestly recommend Mr. Popper's Penguins as a movie to go and check out. Your children will love it and you will definitely find it entertaining and sweet.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Did we like the 2011 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid?

Let us ponder that question...Let's see: its gas mileage to the Indy 500 and back was phenomenal...

There was adequate space in the middle row for 3 full-sized adults...
... but it still had the 3rd row for extra people (aka: little sisters who maybe shouldn't be sitting quite so closely to their older brothers...)

... it had On-Star AND a traditional navigational system so that when I got turned around in Chicago (AGAIN! You'd think I hadn't lived in this area my whole life...), I was able to call and speak to a live person for 15 minutes while we figured out our way around the heavy construction detours...
...and the 3rd row of seats easily popped right out so that we could fit far too many coolers, grills and suitcases.

Yes. We liked the Tahoe. I cried a tear on the day my review ended...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Legoland Discovery Center giveaway

Edited to announce that the winner (via the "even or odd" game with my son) is Mom24!

Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg Illinois* is presenting a new adventure just in time for Memorial Day weekend ( Friday, May 27 – Monday, May 30 *Special Holiday Hours: 10 a.m. – 8 pm)
The press release boasts:

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago is an indoor family entertainment destination with over 2 million LEGO bricks and nine attractions including: Model Builder Workshop; Jungle Expedition; Dragon Ride; Technicycle; LEGO 4D Cinema; Build and Test; LEGO Factory Tour; and MINILAND featuring iconic Chicago landmarks. For Memorial Day weekend, Captain Clutch, LEGOLAND’s swashbuckling sailor, will lead the way as guests hunt for treasure and build their own pirate sword out of LEGO bricks. You can witness the sack of MINILAND as 1,000 pirate minifigures lay siege in a LEGO Pirate Ship model; and if you keep your pirate wits about you, you might just make off with some booty of your own! Guess how many bricks fill the LEGOLAND treasure chest, and you could take home your own treasure chest full of LEGO brick.

Located at the Streets of Woodfield, 601 N. Martingale Rd. in Schaumburg, LEGOLAND Discovery Center is 30 minutes from downtown Chicago by car. Adult Admission is $19. Child Admission is $15. Special annual pass and ticket offers are available at Last guest admission is two hours before closing. Extended hours are available on school vacation days and national holidays. Visit for updated daily opening times. LEGOLAND Discovery Center is a part of the Merlin Entertainments Group.


I wish I could take my family to Legoland over Memorial Day weekend because my children had such a blast the last time we visited. Alas, I will be drinking wine coolers at the Indy 500 sans children... :)

But Legoland has graciously invited one reader from here to experience the fun with their family!

Enter below to win 4 tickets to the Memorial Day celebration. I'll pick the winner on Tuesday, May 24.

Good Luck!

Ways to enter:

~ comment! Easy as pie.

~ Visit Legoland Discovery Center's website and tell me what you'd like to check out the most.

~ Tweet, post, Facebook, or spread the word about this giveaway on any other social media site and link back. (no limit! Have fun spreading the word, but please leave a comment for each entry!)

*This giveaway is only applicable for the Schaumburg Illinois location!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dream Big, Little Pig review

Corinne and I recently received a copy of Kristi Yamaguchi's new children's book, Dream Big, Little Pig. Did you know that Kristi Yamaguchi (you know, the world-famous skating champion) started skating as a physical therapy treatment for her medical issue of club foot? When I found that bit of knowledge out, it put a whole new spin on the obstacles that she must have overcome to achieve the dreams that she has, and caused me to understand the storyline with a new perspective. So I settled down with my 5 year old on our comfy couch to read about Poppy the pig and her dreams of doing something FABULOUS...

And what a sweet story it is! Poppy is surrounded by family and friends who support her no matter what she tries. She KNOWS that she is destined for greatness and never gives up. I adored the cheering of her best friend and grandparentsI can imagine that Kristi must have a similar support team in her own life. To achieve all that she has is downright amazing.

Did you know that she founded the Always Dream Foundation in 1992 to support children in their education and recreational activities? Did you know that the trophies and awards she has received in her athletics have to compete with the goodwill she's involved in as well?

I'm happy to endorse this lovely book written by Kristi Yamaguchi and beautifully illustrated by Tom Bowers. A portion of every book purchase will go towards the Always Dream Foundation to support its early childhood literacy initiative.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jumpstart Giveaway

I have had a long-standing love affair with My daughter loves their programs on the computer and Wii and so does my niece. For the 3-8 age range, it's a great collection of educational programs that are still really, really fun for children to use.
Jumpstart now provides a new math program called Math Blaster. We've played Math Blaster as a homeschooling family for a few years now on a cd-rom and Nintendo DS. The game basically follows a character through several levels (beginning with addition and subtraction) of math problems to complete the missions. Unfortunately, my computer is quite temperamental this winter and I haven't been able to utilize the Math Blaster on Jumpstart as of yet. We're working on getting the computer happy again. Until then, I stand behind and my prior knowledge of Math Blaster. It Rocks!

Playing Jumpstart!

The good people of would like to offer a 6 month full-membership which includes their new Math Blaster option for one reader! Simply comment below and we'll pick the winner on Tuesday, April 5.

Good luck!

Extra entries for:

~ following me on Twitter or Google Friend connect above...

~ every Tweet/Facebook link/other social media site you post about this and link back to. Just let me know what you've done with a link, please! One mention per site, per day!

No more new entries! Will post winner tomorrow morning!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting in Shape...

Ugh. I am out of it. Shape, that is. I may be close to the same size I've always been, but the distribution and type of weight that I'm carrying is not. (i.e. I have a soft and squishy butt and belly...)

So when Lindsay Brin contacted me to review her set of exercise dvds for moms, I jumped on that email. (Well, I didn't jump, I kind of sleepily nodded...).

I just did day 1 of the Core Metabolic JumpStart with Corinne. It kicked my ass.
BUT. In a good way. Seriously, I know that if I can keep myself on task and keep alternating these videos, I will be in shape by BlogHer11 in August. I WILL. That is my goal and I am not going to let this opportunity pass me by.

You shouldn't, either! Lindsay has a discount code for anyone who wants to purchase her dvd set. You can receive 30% off of her 60 Day SlimDown System by using the code "60daydvd30".

You can also receive a FREE copy of her Stroller Pump Workout by liking her on Facebook!

She has dvds for any stage of your life, including pregnancy and post-natal. Plus, I found her personality to be friendly and encouraging without being annoying. (That's saying a lot. I am easily annoyed by athletic instructors...) Lindsay also has a personal blog where she's writing about baby #3 and moving and all the joys of motherhood. I always like supporting fellow bloggers. :)

Let me know if you're taking the plunge into getting fit! I could use all the camaraderie I can gather!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mad City Chicks Giveaway

Edited to add:

Ok, my apologies. I made a drawing video and picked the winner and haven't uploaded the results because I am unorganized and unprofessional. But that's why you love me. Right?


Without further ado, the winner is Rebecca!! Congratulations! Enjoy getting all beautiful and clean without icky chemicals and maybe, just maybe, I'll get around to posting that video drawing. Oy. My week has been nuts...

A while back a bloggy friend, Julie from Julie's Rants, sent me a box of bath goodies to try out.

(All of this soap reviewing is starting to feel like the universe is implying something...)

Nevertheless, I forged on with MORE BATHS just for you guys. That's how I roll. Anything for my blog readers. (Fist to the chest and OUT). So, for 2 weeks I abandoned my previous new-found soap loves to try out the natural soaps and oils from Mad City Chicks San Marcos.

I received 2 soaps, lip balm, a cleansing facial oil and a handmade wash cloth. After using them all, I will admit that I adore using the facial oil for removing my make up. LOVE it. I still like to use my facial cream for extra moisture (it's winter!) but I can see how it might not be necessary for everyone. You would think that putting "oil" on your face would cause your skin to be, well, OILY. Surprise! It's not. There is something about the combination of the natural oils that are used ("carrier oils" which don't clog pores) that leave your skin moisturized but not slick. Love it!

My kids loved the bar soaps because they are GONE. Gone! I got to use the pink glycerin goat milk soap twice before the little rugrats demolished it! Needless to say, they thought it smelled nice.

Julie has generously offered a lovely gift box of natural soaps and accessories for one lucky reader! Just enter below and we'll pick a winner on March 7.

Good luck!

Ways to Enter:

~ Comment!

~ Visit their Etsy site and tell me what product looks interesting to you.

~ Follow me on Twitter.

~ Tweet this giveaway!

~ Subscribe to my blog!