Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sonoran Living Segment - Mother's Day Gift Ideas!

Mother's Day should be full of pampering and relaxation for moms! This selection of gifts provides ideas for every mom and every budget.

Born Free Cups are the perfect baby cup for toddlers on the go. 100% BPA-free, these cups are safe and sturdy for the youngest child.  All products can be found at

To go along with the Born Free cups for the little ones, mom can carry her own customized Sigg bottle! Full color, vinyl wraps can be ordered from It's easy to upload your photographs or custom artwork to make a fully personalized bottle wrap. Skins for 1L bottles are only $12.95.

Jewelry is always a popular gift, and the Isabelle Grace line offers some wonderful pieces for moms to wear. From initials, to customized pendants, and even a sweet "Mom" charm, any woman would love to wear these pieces. They can be found at

Stylish and beautiful "Teething Bling" pendants were designed for babies to handle and chew, but are a wonderful accessory to wear every day. They are made from the same material as many teething toys, and are perfectly safe and non-toxic. They're even dishwasher-safe! More information and products can be found at, including local retailers.

Provide your mom the chance to be pampered at one of our local spas and help a worthwhile cause! Purchase a ticket to the annual Arizona Spa Event. Each ticket includes a gift bag, access to kick-off event, a Summer Spaaah tee, and a spa certificate valid for 30 days after the kick-off event and gratuity! This is truly a luxurious gift. For more information, visit to find locations, dates and ticket prices.

For an at-home pampering session, visit Whole Foods and put together a spa basket with their quality bath and personal products. Choose from calming scrubs, relaxing tea, organic soaps and more! Many products are made in Arizona, and their staff is happy to help you choose the perfect gift. Visit Whole Foods Markets at to find the closest location. There are 8 Arizona locations.

Brand new moms can pamper themselves with products that accelerate healing, lessen scar appearance, alleviate pain and swelling and promote relaxation. Recovery Kits were designed to help new moms recover faster following c-section or natural childbirth. The Recovery Kits can be purchased online at

Baby Daze is the gift for a moms who want to keep track of everything about their new baby. Their products allow easy organization of all the information we need to share with our spouses, doctors and sitters about our young children. The Baby Daze Organizer also makes keeping a baby journal easy in those hectic first months. See the products at

A gourmet food basket full of Arizona products is a welcome gift! Sphinx Ranch in Scottsdale has been creating unique, gourmet baskets from 1951 and would love to help you spoil your mom this Mother's Day. Baskets can be viewed and ordered from

Edible gifts that are fun to share are great for gatherings. Surprise Mom with a "flour" pizza, or a completely edible, chocolate bouquet! Visit for their full collection.

What mom doesn't need a little caffeine? Seattle's Best offers a Toddy cold-brew system, as well as their signature blends to keep mom going! Toddy cold-brew technology makes the smoothest coffee - coffee that's 67% less acidic. The Toddy system and Seattle's Best Coffee whole bean coffees are available for sale in Seattle's Best Coffee cafes or online at

Help Mom meet her fitness goals with Chung Shi shoes. These shoes do more than cover mom’s feet – they make the leg muscles work 57% harder than with a standard training shoe and lower leg muscles are worked over 200% harder to increase caloric burn by more than 25% to 40-percent.  Combine them with specially designed Pink Poles to increase circulation and aerobic fitness!  Find them at Foot Solutions, or by calling -888-FIT-FOOT (348-3668). Foot Solutions has 3 Phoenix stores, and is able to specially fit their products.

Stella & Dot jewelry is offering a brand new little girls' line and a Mommy & Me line that is sure to make those Mother's Day portraits sparkle.  Customize matching sets with unique charms that can be shared. View the entire line at or contact Elisabeth Krakora directly at 602-790-0629. Call Elisabeth for a 10% discount & free shipping for Sonoran Living viewers until May 3, 2010.

Tell Me Thursday - Three Years

Few Hours Old
Three years ago today, at 10:32AM, this amazing child was born.

She is my sunshine and my laughter. She knows how to bring a smile to my lips in a moment.

She is wonderfully stubborn and independent -- two traits I believe will carry her far in life.

She is my baby girl - forever and always - although she is quick to tell you that she is NOT a baby.

She loves books, food, and being outdoors. She fits perfectly into our family and helps keep us all young.

She is devoted to her Aunt Bunny. (and that devotion is returned) She is fiercely attached to her brothers, as they are to her.  I hope those strong bonds are lifelong. She is loving and kind and helpful.

She is the daughter of a currently exhausted mother -- who wishes she had time and energy to write a more eloquent post celebrating her third birthday.  We'll celebrate tonight with her grandparents, uncle, and aunt. We'll enjoy the dinner she chose -- chicken and rice.  We'll shower her with gifts and I can't wait to see  her reaction to the sterling bangle I had made for her that is engraved "Lydia -- Warrior Princess"  Because, really?  That just about sums her up!

1 year old

2 years old
Not quite 3 years old

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Holy Communion

Nate celebrated his First Holy Communion last Sunday.  My parents & brother traveled from Wisconsin to help celebrate, so that made it even more special.

He wore the same suit his brother wore last year, and it fit him perfectly. He was very excited about the day, and did a great job staying calm and listening throughout the Mass.  He's very excited that he has made this big step into our faith.

We enjoyed a fun party after Mass with our family and a few close friends. The weather was beautiful and it was a perfect day.

Wordless Wednesday - 3 years

Review: Wonder Hanger

I admit it!  I see "As Seen On TV" products and wonder if they really work as well as it looks like they do on the commercial. I had the chance recently to try out a set of Wonder Hangers, and can share that they do just as promised.

The plastic hanger allows you to place 5 standard hangers on it, then by releasing one side, the clothes cascade down and leave more room in your closet! I found they work best if you set them all up, then move them down but don't add any more clothes to your closet! It definitely makes your closet neater.

They also work great for holding purses (of which I have a ton, because I'm always on the search for the perfect purse.) They are sturdy and work with any type of hanger.

You can find them at Wonder Hangers. If you buy them online, you can buy one set and receive a second set for just the cost of postage and handling.  They're also found at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and other large retailers.

Disclosure: This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Wonder Hangers for this review.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: Edible Gifts Plus

I'm getting ready to share some great Mother's Day gifts on Sonoran Living this week. In preparation, I have been receiving some wonderful things to show during my segment. I'll link to the video later this week, but I wanted to share one of the companies a few days early.

I received a couple boxes from and was blown away by how great they were!  I received this huge fortune cookie, a cookie to-do list, personalized photo graham crackers, a flour pizza and this amazing bouquet of chocolate flowers. These items all look cute in the pictures, but they don't do justice to how wonderful they are in person!

Anyone would be thrilled to receive one of these treats!  (In fact, I'm going to give a couple to my mom because I'm lucky enough that she is visiting this week.)

The price is very fair, and the quality is outstanding.  Now that I've seen them in person, I will definitely send gifts from this site in the future.

I haven't tried any yet, because I want them to be intact for Thursday's appearance, but we'll try them after that, and I'll be sure to share how they taste.  They were kind enough to let me keep the yummy treats!

Disclosure: I received free samples of these food items for review.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tell Me Thursday - Tired Babe

Yesterday, I shared this picture of Lydia sacked out in front of one of our many bookshelves.  She stopped napping regularly long ago, but every once in a while a nap sneaks up on her.

She slept for almost 2 hours in the same spot - oblivious to the boys coming in and out the door to the left of her, various conversations, and the noise of making dinner.  She obviously needed the rest.

Have you seen this study?  Apparently they have found that the more books a family has in their home, the more education the children in the home pursue.  On average, kids that grow up in houses full of books pursue 3 more years of schooling on average than kids who grow up in homes devoid of books.

I think our kids have a pretty good head start.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Products from Fox Spot

I've received a few emails asking me about the specifics of the products shown on my kitchen table during my recent Fox interview about trying to avoid chemicals in items - especially for my kids.  I wasn't able to talk about every piece on camera, but here is what you saw on my table:

  1. Born Free was the first company to manufacture BPA-free plastics for baby bottles and plastic drinking cups. Their products can be found at
  2. June Bee Baby Clothing specializes in handknit baby clothing, made from organic materials. Each piece of clothing is handknit by women working from their homes in Turkey. Clothing can be found at
  3. Innobaby provides a variety of serving dishes and food storage devices that are convenient and safe for children. Their stainless steel bus platter is durable, as well as adorable and safe for kids. Not all of their plastic products are BPA-free, but a listing can be found at their website –
  4. Little Duck Organics provide quality, organic snacks for toddlers and preschoolers. Their freeze-dried fruits contain nothing except fruit! Their snacks are found at Amazon and
  5. Revolution Foods is another company providing organic snacks for infants, toddlers and older kids. Their innovative packaging and fresh ideas, coupled with their commitment to providing organic foods for kids makes them a company to watch. Visit to see a complete line of products.
  6. Boogie Wipes are a gentle alternative to dry tissues for sensitive noses. Saline-moistened wipes help moms keep noses clean! This mom-created product can be found at
  7. Tyler Trends Organic Cotton Clothing is made by a family-owned company that makes quality clothing with fun designs. Their cute designs can be found at
  8. Teething Bling pendants and bangles are made from silicone that is phthalate and lead free - completely non-toxic. Available from Amazon and
  9. Melville Chair – These versatile chairs are made from formaldehyde-free plywood and finished with environmentally safe finishes. The chairs can be turned into a table, and even used as a stool. The company incorporates sustainable practices, in an effort to create fun and responsible products. More products can be found at
  10. Mrs. Meyer’s Baby Line is a sweet-smelling, eco-friendly line of products safe for babies. More information can be found at
  11. Piggy Paint is a completely non-toxic nail polish which is safe for everyone to use. The colors are bright and vibrant, but practically odorless. They also provide a non-toxic nail polish remover. They can be found at
  12. Lotus Bebe creates sustainable luxury for babies. Their blankets are made from soybeans and bamboo– considered eco-fabrics, that are less damaging to the environment than cotton and petroleum based fabrics. Their products are found at

    Review: Melville Chair

    I've had a few questions about the chair from my recent interview, and I realized that I hadn't posted this video review that Lydia created a couple months ago!

    The Melville chair is wonderful for kids, for all the reasons you see in the video.  It's easy to carry, it's versatile, it's cute, it's sturdy! Lydia claimed it as her chair the day it arrived in our home, and she has used it daily ever since (we got it in January.)

    What I especially liked about the chair is the fact that it is made from formaldehyde free plywood and stained with non-toxic, low VOC finishes.  Each chair is made completely in Olympia, WA by Hatched Eggr's, and all materials are sourced within 100 miles of their shop!  It's a wonderful green product, that is made entirely in the USA, and kids love it!  It's the perfect gift for any toddler.

    Wordless Wednesday - Tired Babe

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Trying to Be Chemical-Free

    A couple weeks ago, Keith Yaskin, from our local Fox news station, visited my home to talk with me about the things I do to try and avoid chemicals in our home and for our children.  It was fun to share some of the products we use, as well as share how I try to avoid too many chemicals without becoming an extremist.  I think Keith did a great editing job, but you can watch and judge for yourself.

    Monday, April 19, 2010


    I usually blog only about my immediate family, with a few references to other family and friends thrown in. I am close to my siblings, but respect their privacy enough not to blog about them.

    I have my sister's permission, though, to write about her for at least the next few months. Since she was a little girl, we knew she had food and environmental allergies.  She's allergic to apples, bananas, citrus, strawberries, peaches, mangoes (and a few more fruits.)  She's also allergic to latex, glycerin and a variety of growing and living things.

    She is very careful about reading labels to avoid her allergens. You may be surprised how many products contain glycerin! (most toothpastes, for example, as well as a wide variety of packaged foods) You may also be surprised how many things use apple juice as a base, or that contain orange juice (colas contain small amounts of orange juice.)

    She has been  having allergic reactions for a while, and wasn't sure what was causing it.  She thought she may have developed a new allergy, and also worried that her symptoms may indicate some sort of chronic illness. Recently she experienced an allergic reaction so severe that it landed her in the hospital for a day.

    She quickly found an allergist, who put her through a battery of tests.  We were relieved that she does not have a chronic illness, but 2 new allergies were discovered.  She is allergic to yeast (not gluten, or wheat -- but yeast) and dairy.

    She already exists on a restricted diet because of her known allergies. Adding these 2 new allergies has been overwhelming and disconcerting (to say the least.) In her words -- "This sucks!"

    Her yeast allergy means she has to avoid grapes (one of the few fruits she could still eat & enjoy), vinegar (which means there are pretty much no condiments or salad dressings available to her. Why? The usual substitute for vinegar is lemon juice.  See: above-mentioned citrus allergy), olives as well as any yeast breads.

    You can imagine all the things that removing dairy has also removed from her diet.

    When my sister & I hear about something, our first inclination is to research.  As soon as she told me about the diagnosis, I started researching.  I want to help her find ways to cope with the new way she must eat in a way that will make it as simple and non-upsetting as possible.

    So, yes, I did ask her permission to write about her.  As we have done research, we haven't found anyone that shares her wide variety of allergies with helpful recipes, tips and ideas. We decided that with all we've learned from the Internet, it's time to give back.  I will be writing about different products, different recipes, and different strategies that she tries.  With her further permission, I'll also share her struggles and her thoughts about it all.

    We're hopeful that as she continues to eliminate her known allergens, she will feel better.  She hasn't felt "well" for a while, so helping her feel better is important to me. 

    If you have resources to share, we'd love to hear about them.  Please feel free to leave comments, or email me directly.  I hope we all learn a lot on this journey!

    Review: Simply GoGurt (And Free Coupons & Giveaway!)

    I confess.  I have purchased GoGurts (yogurt in a tube) and let my kids eat them. Yes, I was concerned about the artificial color.  But, they were convenient.  And the kids liked them. And, it was yogurt. I decided that it was okay as an occasional snack.

     I am very happy to share that Yoplait now offers "Simply GoGurt" which has NO artificial color or HFCS.  And, it tastes good!  My kids still like it, it is still convenient, and it is better for them.  Yoplait sent me this cute "Simplify Your Life" pack with a tiny Etch-A-Sketch, a weekly organizer and this very handy backseat desk/organizer. It also included a coupon to try Simply GoGurt.  The kids ate them up, even though they weren't a strange blue color!

    In addition, I have coupons to share!  The first 30 readers to click the widget will receive a coupon for a free box!  After that, you will receive a $1.50 off coupon (which is pretty good when they go on sale for $2/box!)  (*This coupon offer for free Simply… Go-Gurt is not valid in some states, including California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota and Tennessee.)

    And, there's more! I have a fun "Simplify Your Life" prize pack to give to one of my readers!  The giveaway will end on May 1, 2010. e following information on the Giveaway Form:

    Name of Giveaway: Simply Yogurt
    Mandatory Question: What is a favorite snack in your house?
    Extra entries if you share this post on Twitter and/ or Facebook!
    Extra entry if you follow my blog blog via RSS, Bloglines, Google Reader, Networked Blogs, etc!

    Giveaway ends Sunday, May 1, 2010. Winner will be notified via email.

    Click this link to be taken to the Giveaway Form! Good Luck!

    *** Disclosure:  The “Simplify Your Life” prize pack, Go-Gurt information, and prize pack to give away were all provided for free from Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Review: How To Train Your Dragon video games (and giveaways!)

    My boys were thrilled to watch the movie, How to Train Your Dragon, a couple days before general release.  They thought it was fun, and wonderfully animated. They were excited when I received a package in the mail How To Train Your Dragon video games by Activision!

    We have Nintendo DS', Wii and XBox360 systems in our house (no, I'm not quite sure how that happened.  We used to have a PSP, too, but it was stolen a while back.)  The first game the boys tried was the DS version. They had fun, and enjoyed the fact they could play multi-player.

    We also played the Wii version, since we wanted to see how it looked on the big screen.  We all had fun fighting dragons and getting used to the different styles.

    The premise of the game is that gamers choose to play characters (Hiccup or Astrid).  The game goes beyond the movie with more locations and areas for the dragons to fight.  Colin did mention that it wasn't much like the movie -- but he liked that because it meant there were new things to learn about the dragons.

    The game is rated E+ (Everyone 10+) for Fantasy Violence.

    It is available at all major retailers, and retails for $49.99 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) and for $29.99 (NDS).

    Follow this link to print out coloring pages from the game!  All 3 of my kids have had fun coloring these.  Just open the "Approved" folder and download the coloring pages you want.

    I'm excited that I have multiple games for various platforms to give away!    I have 6 copies of the game to give away.  The games are for Nintendo DS, Wii, XBox 360 and PS3, so it's very important that you tell me what type of system you have!

    Name of Giveaway: Dragons!
    Mandatory Question: What type of gaming system do you have
    Extra entries if you share this post on Twitter and/ or Facebook!
    Extra entry if you follow my blog blog via RSS, Bloglines, Google Reader, Networked Blogs, etc!

    Giveaway ends Sunday, May 1, 2010.  Winners will be notified via email and I'll ask for your address so your video game can be mailed to you directly. 

    Click this link to be taken to the Giveaway Form! Good Luck!

     Disclosure: I received a copy of the game from Activision, and games to give away.  No further compensation was provided.

    Heifer International Fundraiser Totals

    My boys rocked their fundraiser for Heifer International!  In 6 weeks, they read a total of 6,579 pages!!

    Last time we checked in, Colin had read 15 books totaling 2,151 pages.  He added 18 books and 2,731 pages for a grand total of 4,882 pages and 33 books!!   He read more Hardy Boys, some Roald Dahl, and a couple Warriors novels.

    Nate had read 6 books, totaling 687 pages.  He added 8 book and 1010 pages for a grand total of:  1,697 pages and 14 books in the last 6 weeks!!  Nate read about cowboys, lots of Calvin & Hobbes, some Spiderman and other superhero books, more jokes books and a couple graphic novels.

    We are still gathering donations, but with what we have in hand so far, they met their goals of providing a share of a milk menagerie and a Flock of Hope.  They also have enough to donate a honeybee hive and two shares towards a pig.  We plan on sending in their donation by May 1, and I'll add a post with their final totals after that. 

    I admit I didn't expect them to read that much, and I wasn't sure how dedicated they would be after a couple weeks.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how they stayed committed and diligently worked toward their goals.  Nate was very proud to share with others how he was helping others with gifts of animals.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Aquatic Awareness: Vigilance Saves Lives

    Last week, I read a post over at Becca's, which led me to her friend's post, and I had tears in my eyes.  We, too, have a pool in our backyard and I know how stressful it can be to keep an eye on all the kids.

    When we had our pool built, there was no question whether or not we would put a fence around it. We built a fence that cut our yard from the back fence to the side of the house which completely fenced the pool from the rest of the yard. I never wanted a child to slip outside and end up in the pool.

    My kids know the rules.  Nobody ever goes on the pool side without an adult.  Nobody goes into the pool without an adult.  When they knock balls over the fence, they know to come and ask for help rather than scaling the fence.

    My husband and I carefully watch our kids in the pool, but I know how quickly accidents can happen.  Even when everyone is watching and being vigilant.  Even when every possible precaution has been taken. I know Becca and her friend are good, watchful, aware parents and I'm grateful that no lasting damage happened that frightening summer day. 

    Last summer, friends were over and the kids were in the pool.  The 4 older kids are all swimmers.  The 2 younger kids were playing on the steps.  My friend and I were at the edge of the pool watching them all.  She went inside to change her youngest's diaper and I kept an eye on the 6 in the pool.  I assured my friend that they'd all be fine, and I could keep an eye on the 6. 

    And I did, right until her 2yo stepped off the step and went under the water.  After a mere moment of disbelief, I jumped into the pool.  Just in time for her to walk down the path to our pool and see me lift him from the water.

    I was fully dressed, with my phone in my pocket (it was the only thing that drowned that day.) I never hesitated, but I still can't believe how quickly it all happened.  Thankfully, he was fine and had only been under the water for a few seconds.  I scooped him up and placed him back on the steps.  I did my best to smile and laugh with him, as I didn't want him to be afraid of the water.  I held my pounding heart deep in my chest, and smiled at my friend that all was okay.

    Thank God that it was.

    In Arizona, we're starting to open our pools.  During the next few months, people all over the country will open their pools and kids will drown.  Let's cut that number this year by being extra-vigilant. 

    Be extra-vigilant. Don't drink by the pool. Keep your eyes on kids every moment. Don't let them ever swim alone. Teach them pool safety, but don't ever let your guard down. Encourage everyone you know to be extra-vigilant.

    It only takes a moment.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Challenges of Working Parents

    Everyone has challenges, but tonight I'm thinking about the challenges of working parents.  Specifically, the 2 that live in my home.

    For many years, we've made various decisions about our family that have allowed us the maximum time together as a family. Those decisions included me staying home and choosing to homeschool to ensure that we were able to do things as a family as Bo's schedule allowed.  There were a couple years that he was working 6 days a week, 15 hours a day - so it was very important that when he had a free hour or two we could spend it as a family.

    During the last couple years, I've made a return to income-producing work. At first it was freelance writing from home, which was still possible to work around everyone's schedule. When I returned to the classroom, things got a little more complicated. Thankfully, we found a couple great child care options and worked it out for the 1 - 2 days a week I worked.

    Right now, it's becoming much more complicated.  Bo works as an outside salesperson, which means he needs to be available when the customer is available.  It could mean he has a call at 7AM (like tomorrow) or at 6PM (like tonight).  Currently, he has days that have him running from call to call from 7AM until 8 or 9PM.  To further complicate matters, he has a company vehicle.  Since family members cannot ride in company vehicles, he has to drive to child care in one of our vehicles, return home and switch vehicles.

    I'm starting to work more often. Depending on which client I'm working with, my day can start anywhere from 7 - 9AM.  My commute time also differs depending on location, which means I must leave home between 45 and 60 minutes before I need to be at work.  On those days that Bo can't drop off, I have to leave even earlier to drop off at child care.

    It's difficult not knowing week to week what my schedule will look like, but I do my best to share it with Bo when I know.  Unfortunately, his schedule is even more volatile.  Add in getting the boys to their enrichment program, Nate to speech therapy, overseeing homeschooling, writing, and everything else . . . it gets pretty complicated.  Oh, and did I mention I'm going to be on TV again in a couple weeks?  I'm currently sifting through a ton of PR pitches trying to find the best products to showcase.

    Don't misunderstand!  I'm grateful that Bo is busy.  I'm grateful for my teaching opportunities which allow me to continue working part-time outside home. I'm grateful for all the doors that blogging has opened for me. It's just challenging -- some days more than others. 

    I'm about to add another level of complexity to all that I do.  But, you'll just have to keep reading to find out what that is.  I'm not quite ready to share it with the Internet. 

    Tell Me Thursday - Mystery Package

     Yesterday, I posted the picture to the left.  A few weeks ago, I received a box.  I receive many boxes, but usually I'm expecting the boxes I receive.  I didn't recognize where this box originated.

    When I opened it, I found this beautifully wrapped package.  My iPhone picture doesn't do the fabric justice.  It is a beautiful green and coral print.  It was wrapped around a medium sized box.

    When I opened the packaging, I found a bottle of Febreze's air freshener in a new scent, Thai Dragon Fruit.  The little wooden elephant was also included, packaged in a gauze bag with a small note about the Thai tradition that elephants are noble beast of special importance. 

    I have to say that it is one of the cleverest PR pitches I've received.  The last one from Febreze was a gym bag -- along with a bottle of Sports Febreze fabric freshener.  That was clever, too!  And also extremely useful in a house full of male athletes who are getting stinkier as they get older.

    The Thai Dragonfruit scent is lovely.  It's not strong, and doesn't have an odd scent.   It's the perfect thing to spritz down the hallway when we're coming up to boys' laundry day!

    They're currently running a sweepstakes for a trip to Thailand so you can see the inspiration behind this new scent.  You can enter until 5/2/10!

    Disclosure: I received the package from the clever PR folks for Febreze.  Thanks!

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Cinnabon Sweetens Tax Day

    Cinnabon is giving away cupcake bites from 6PM - 8PM on April 15, 2010 to sweeten the "Tax Day" bite.  Isn't that a fun giveaway?  If you have one close by, I would definitely stop by and enjoy your yummy freebie!

    If your taxes are already done, you still have one more day to enter an essay in their contest for a $100 Cinnabon gift card! Visit their website for all the details.

    Disclosure: I received the information for this post from Cinnabon, but no compensation was provided.

    Wordless Wednesday - mystery package

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Collecting Tropicana Juicy Points

     Have you been adding your Tropicana Juicy Points to your account? There have been some good sales (and coupons) on Tropicana lately, so I've added many points to my account!

    One neat thing is that if you buy your Tropicana at Fry's (Kroger stores), you receive double points if you also enter your loyalty card number! That turned the 6 points from the carton to the left into 12.

    If you haven't yet signed up, you can still do so at It's easy to add points, and if you follow Tropicana on Twitter or join their fan page on Facebook, you can find out about special offers and sometimes an extra points code.

    They sometimes offer a "Deal of the Day" which has offered a BOGO coupon, and a big discount on golf balls.   Right now, you can use one point to enter a drawing for a chance at breakfast with Bruce Jenner.

    We've been busy trying to finish up our school year and I've been working more often, so we haven't yet used any of our points.  There is a neat baseball exhibit at the Museum of  Youth, and we'll be cashing in some points for discounted admission soon!

    Have you used any of your points yet? What have you done? I'd love to hear about it.

    Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in the Tropicana Juicy Insiders Ambassador program by Mom Central on behalf of Tropicana. I received 12 free Juicy Rewards points and a $50 Visa gift card to use in redemption of the points and to facilitate my review.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Today is D.E.A.R Day!

    Today is D.E.A.R. Day!  I didn't know what that meant either, until I checked out the website.  D.E.A.R. stands for "Drop Everything And Read"  What a great idea!

    I've always loved books, and was lucky enough to grow up in a house full of books and book-lovers. My love of books has carried down to my children, and they all love a trip to the library or local bookstore. We read quite a bit in this house, and I love the idea of encouraging reading in every house! (Watch for my update later this week on the boys' reading fundraiser. They did amazing.)

    The recommendation is to drop everything and read for 30 minutes. Maybe we'll make today a day of read-alouds and let everyone read aloud for 30 minutes. In addition to the books everyone is reading on their own, we also have 2 different read-alouds going at the moment (Lightning Thief and Mossflower)

    Today is also Beverly Cleary's birthday. I grew up reading her books, and my boys thoroughly enjoy the Ralph S.Mouse and Henry Huggins' adventures.  Did you know a Ramona movie is coming to theaters sometime this year?

    Will you celebrate reading today?

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Review: Green Golly Audiobook (Giveaway!)

    **Giveaway has ended.  Winner has been notified.  Watch for more giveaways!**

    My boys love to listen to audiobooks and podcasts. When it's a funny book, they will listen to it over and over again, laughing uproariously each time.

    One of their favorite podcasts is StoryNory, and I keep it loaded on my iPod so we can listen to it on the go.  Lydia, on the other hand, prefers songs.  When the boys hop in the car and request StoryNory, Lydia responds with insisting on songs.  We take turns, and I'm sure she'll stop yelling about it one of these days.

    Last Wednesday, I picked up the mail on the way to pick up the boys and found the audiobook, "Green Golly & Her Golden Flute: an introduction to classical music based on Rapunzel" in my mailbox. It's a collaboration between Barbara Siesel and Keith Torgan. I popped it in after we got the boys, and I was able to assure Lydia that there was music as well as storytelling.

    This is a re-telling of the Rapunzel story, with some fun updates and interesting twists. Classical music pieces are interwoven throughout the story to the point where they seamlessly fit the story.  Nate amazed me at one point when he said "Hey! That's Mozart!" about 20 seconds before the narrator mentioned the name and composer of the piece that was played.

    The CD includes the story, with pieces from Chopin, Mozart, Bizet and more skillfully played as an integral part of the story.  After the story finishes, the CD includes a beautiful flute recital (with piano accompaniment) of all the pieces in greater length that were performed during the narration.

    For a few years, we regularly attended the Phoenix Symphony children's concerts.  It wasn't in our budget this year, but this CD reminded me of the types of concerts put on for the children's concerts. I hope we are able to renew our season's tickets next year, as we missed the live music performances this year.

    Everyone (even Lydia!) enjoyed this CD and would happily listen to it again.  Nate asked if he could have it on his mp3 player so he could listen to "all the beautiful music over and over." Colin said that he found the story funny, and wondered if there were more stories about the traveling gypsy.

    I'm excited that I can share a copy with one of my readers!  Just enter the necessary information on the giveaway form, and you'll be entered to win. 

    Name of Giveaway: Green Golly
    Mandatory Question: What is your favorite type of music
    Extra entries if you share this post on Twitter and/ or Facebook!
    Extra entry if you follow my blog blog via RSS, Bloglines, Google Reader, Networked Blogs, etc!

    Giveaway ends Wednesday, April 19, 2010.  Winners will be notified via email and I'll ask for your address so your CD can be mailed to you directly. 

    Giveaway Page Link removed when giveaway ended.  

     Disclosure: I received a copy of the CD, and one was provided for the giveaway.

    Secrets of the Mountain - Family Movie! (and a Giveaway!)

    ** Giveaway winner has been chosen & notified!  Thanks for reading & watch for more giveaways! **

    We are always on the lookout for good family movies, that we can all enjoy!  We enjoy some excitement and suspense, but they also need to be family-friendly.  I was excited to hear about the upcoming movie, Secrets of the Mountain, which will air this Friday (April 16, 2010) on NBC at 8/7C.

    Wal-Mart and P&G got together to create family-friendly TV programming, and this is the first offering from this partnership. It stars Barry Bostwick and Paige Turco, as well as a number of teens I confess I don't recognize.

    The story focuses strongly on the strength of families, with some adventure and excitement around a hidden treasure and bad guys.  When Nate watched the following trailer, he immediately said "Awwww, cool!!  When can we watch the whole thing??"

    In case you were wondering, we will be sitting down with some popcorn on Friday to watch this movie!

    I hope your family does, too!  But, even if you can't make it on Friday night, Wal-Mart will sell the DVD and the soundtrack starting April 17, 2010.  My readers have a chance to WIN a copy of the movie & sountrack!

    Name of Giveaway: Secrets of the Mountain
    Mandatory Question: Share a favorite family activity
    Extra entries if you share this post on Twitter and/ or Facebook!
    Extra entry if you follow my blog via RSS, Bloglines, Google Reader, Networked Blogs, etc!

    Giveaway ends Wednesday, April 18, 2010.  Winners will be notified via email and I'll ask for your address so your DVD and CD can be mailed to you directly. 

    Giveaway has ended - Link to giveaway page removed.

    (Be sure to click the link to enter the giveaway! Comments left below will not count for this giveaway)

    Disclosure: I received the information about this movie, will receive a copy of the movie and soundtrack, and was provided the chance to give away another copy to my readers by Wal-Mart and P&G. No further compensation was provided.

    Review: springpad & $25 Amazon Giveaway

    **Giveaway has ended.  Winner was chosen using and contacted via email. Comments were hidden to protect emails & springpad account info.  Thanks for reading!*

    In case you hadn't noticed, I spend tons of time online! I research a wide variety of topics, and am always looking for a way to keep everything organized. I recently was asked to check out a new (free) service -- springpad -- and I was eager to see how it would help me become more organized.

    I've been using it for a couple weeks, and once I added the "Spring It!" button to my toolbar have used it quite a bit. I like how easy it is to organize different topics, and how I can add tags and notes to each link.

    I especially love that there is an iPhone app (free) that syncs with the online version, so I can keep track of things while on the go. From my iPhone, I can snap a picture, or even scan a bar code to save it to my account. 

    It's extremely useful to me to have access to the account wherever I have an Internet connection. I like that it has many features beyond other "bookmark" sites, like the notebook and the easy categorization of recipes, links, products.  I can make to-do lists, idea lists, topic lists. They also make it easy to share your links with Facebook and Twitter, so I can send out info to my networks with just a single click.

    It allows me to combine a few different services I use currently into a single tool.  It will take time to check out all the features, but I found that it was well worth it once I took the time to explore the many different things it can do. 

    You can follow others (I'm AZMelly) to see what they're keeping track of, but you don't have to share everything.  There is an option to keep things private, so you don't have to worry about those links you saved with ideas for Father's Day.

    Here's a video of the features:

    Overall, it's a great tool, and one that I plan to share with my students in my Internet and social media classes.  I suggest you try it for yourself!

    In fact, to encourage you to try it yourself, I'm hosting a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card! Springpad has some specific requirements for this giveaway, so please follow the directions below:

    Giveaway Instructions:  In order to be entered into the giveaway, you must create your own (free!) Springpad account.  Then spring, or save, something on your wish list--it can be anything from a book to a pair of shoes you've had your eye on.  Each item you spring works as a raffle ticket, so the more things you spring the more chances you have to win!  Then enter your Springpad username (like so: in the comments section so we can track what you've saved.  The winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card to go towards that item.  

    Simple!  Please follow me, too, as I'd love to see the interesting things you save!

    The giveaway ends April 16, 2010, so get your account and leave your comment soon!

    Disclosure: In exchange for this post, I received a $25 Amazon gift card from springpad.  They also provided the gift card for the giveaway.

    Thursday, April 08, 2010

    My Wordle

    This is kinda cool! Click on it to see it large.

    Wordle: Untitled

    Review & Giveaway: Breyer's Yogurt

    My kids are usually excited when a package is delivered to our front door.  They all love yogurt, so when I opened a cooler box holding yogurt, they couldn't wait to try them.  Thankfully, there were 4 cups in the box, otherwise I wouldn't have had the chance to try them out!

    We sampled the Breyer's 100 calorie cups of vanilla with Oreo cookie crumbles.  They are a perfect size for a snack, and the crunch provided by the Oreo cookie crumbles was a fun addition. The kids all declared it a hit, and I didn't throw any away -- which is a good thing!

    You can check out the other flavors, as well as the nutritional information, at Breyer's YoCrunch website.  If you'd like to try the yogurt yourself, I have freebie coupons to give away to TEN of my readers!  Yep, 10 of my readers will each receive one coupon for a package of free Breyer's YoCrunch yogurt.

    Name of Giveaway: Breyer's YoCrunch
    Mandatory Question: What is your favorite yogurt flavor
    Extra entries if you share this post on Twitter and/ or Facebook!
    Extra entry if you follow my blog!

    Giveaway ends Wednesday, April 14, 2010.  Winners will be notified via email and I'll ask for your address so your coupon can be mailed to you directly. 

    GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.  Winners have been notified via email! Thank you for reading!

    (Be sure to click the link to enter the giveaway! Comments left below will not count for this giveaway)

    Disclosure: I received a sample 4-pack of yogurt for this review. The coupons were also provided for the giveaway.  No additional compensation was provided.
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