Friday, December 30, 2011

Disney on Ice - Toy Story - Phoenix - GIVEAWAY

*Winner has been chosen & notified! A sweet family from AJ will be there opening night.  Thanks for reading!*

It's time for a giveaway!!  This will be my first giveaway of 2012, since I will choose the winner on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

I have FOUR TICKETS to opening night of the Disney on Ice presents Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3 show in Phoenix on January 18th to give away to one of my awesome, local readers!

I wrote about the show earlier this month, and also shared a great discount code!

For this giveaway, you MUST be available on January 18th in the evening to attend the show at US Airways Center in Phoenix.  Please DO NOT enter the giveaway if you are not sure if you can attend the show.

To enter this giveaway, you must CLICK HERE and type your information onto my Giveaway Entry Form.  Please enter all the information correctly in order for your entry to be included in the drawing.  I will choose a winner on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 using  YOU MUST RESPOND WITHIN 24 HOURS, or I will choose another winner.

Name of Giveaway: Toy Story Disney on Ice
Mandatory Question: Who is your favorite Toy Story character?

Good Luck!! 

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and sharing my opinion, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld Shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-show events.  No additional compensation is provided.  All opinions are my own.*

2011 Meme

I've done this for the last 4 years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) -- so I couldn't skip this year!  If you decided to play along on your blog, leave a comment so I can read your 2011 recap.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Was denied entry into a foreign country.  I don't think I wrote about it on this blog, but I was denied entry into Canada a few months ago because I didn't have all the paperwork they wanted to see.  I was supposed to teach a class, but had to cancel since Customs didn't think I had enough paperwork to prove that I was there for work.  It was a stressful couple of days until I got my passport returned and was able to return to the U.S.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I kept 2 of my 3 resolutions.  I am still thinking about resolutions for 2011.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.  No new babies close to us in 2011.  Dear family members are working on adopting their foster child, though, so I'm excited for them!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nobody close to me died in 2011.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 5 - 8 and attending the National Stuttering Conference with Nate in Fort Worth, TX.  It was a wonderful experience to travel alone with Nate, and spend time with amazing people.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Having 2 articles published in a local parenting magazine. Recovering enough to take Nate to the National Stuttering Conference in Texas. It was up in the air as to whether I would be healthy enough to go, but willpower made it happen.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Nothing I would share with the Internet :)~

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I suffered some serious kidney issues over the summer that landed me in the hospital 3 times, 2 surgeries, and flat on my back for over 6 weeks.  It came on suddenly, and it feels like I'm still catching up from the time I lost.  Health is precious.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I can't think of any outstanding purchases.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My kids.  They all stepped up and were amazing taking care of each other while I was sick.  My brother, who helped immensely when I was sick.  Also, Colin who stood up to the bullies that harassed his brother.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The kids who teased and bullied Nate about his speech.  I wouldn't say appalled, but I am disappointed with both boys' teachers this year and they have definitely brought about depressed feelings.  They're just not a good fit.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgages, medical bills

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My parents finally moved in next door.  Our trip to CA in October and the time I was able to spend on the beach. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Someone Like You  For no other reason than I really liked it, and I listened to Adele's 21 album quite a bit this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) about the same; b) about the same; c) about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Played.  Spent time outdoors.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
worried (this never changes, does it?  Maybe 2012 should be the year I work on changing that)

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas was even better this year because my parents live here now.  They are thoroughly enjoying the time they can spend with their grandkids and I love watching their relationships develop.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Never fell out of love.

22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Top Chef, American Pickers, Storage Wars (still a reality TV junkie . . . )

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire  I picked it up for free over a year ago, but didn't read it until a couple months ago.  Got very interested in it, and read the next 3 in quick succession.  Felt that Book 4 got really long, with too many new characters, and was too frustrated to spend the money on the fifth book.  I'm sure I will read it when either the price drops, or I can get it from the library.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I was a little slow to the party, but I fell in love with Adele this year.

27. What did you want and get?
A new wedding band.  My wedding set hasn't fit since I was pregnant with Colin, and I got a little tired of being asked if I was married -- especially when I was traveling.  Bo found an absolutely gorgeous band and gave it to me for Christmas.  OH!  And he also found us a wonderful couple that cleans our house twice a month.

28. What did you want and not get?
Can't think of anything.  I'm pretty blessed.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Dolphin Tale

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 44 this year.  Bo was in Vegas. I think I worked. Nothing exciting.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Can't think of anything.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Simple (boring)

33. What kept you sane?
My sister. I depend on her for quite a bit, and I can always count on her even temper and cheery attitude. Traveling for work, and sleeping in quiet hotel rooms.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Mark Wahlberg.  He's still my celebrity boyfriend and I'm excited he has a new movie coming out in January.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I'm not a big political issue type of person. I have my views, and I keep them quiet for the most part -- doing what I can to further what I believe is important.  Nothing stirred me enough to prompt me to post on the Internet about it.

36. Who did you miss?
Close, intense friendships.  I think social media has watered down relationships.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I met a ton of people while traveling, and teaching. Can't single out one person, but there were lots of people that made my days go by easier.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Work can wait, and money can always be earned.  Enjoy the people in your life.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I'm not big on quoting song lyrics . . . 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Doll Hair Rescue

This is Celia.  She is a much-loved baby in our home.  She was a gift for Lydia's first Christmas.  She also has c-r-a-z-y hair. 

I have tried to comb it, and had very little luck making her look presentable.  Lydia says she's just a "rock star."  Apparently, rock stars have crazy hair.

I saw a post on Pinterest about rescuing doll hair.  It was recommended to use a Wig Wire Brush and diluted fabric softener to tame doll tresses.

I ordered the brush a few weeks ago, but since I switched to the fabric softener granules, I didn't have any liquid fabric softener.  Today, I finally remembered to buy a bottle, as well as a small squirt bottle.

I did a half and half solution of liquid fabric softener and water and sprayed it on Celia's hair.  Then, I started brushing with the wire brush.  I ended up wetting her hair pretty thoroughly, but you can see the results below!

Next, I'm going to take on some of the Barbies in our house!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chex Party Mix Parties! (Giveaway)

 Have you ever hosted a cookie exchange?  I confess, they seemed like a lot of work to me!  I loved this idea from Chex Cereals, though, to host a Chex Party Mix-Change!

I know Chex Mix has been around for many years, but I didn't realize that they have come up with a ton of new recipes using Chex Mix to make fun party food!  I was lucky enough to recieve a gift pack with some cereal, as well as new recipes to try out with family and friends.

This year, my parents finally moved to Arizona.  It's been the first holiday season in over a decade when we've been able to spend it together.  This was a fun thing that I could finally include my mom in!

My oldest has loved pumpkin pie since his first taste of pumpkin pie when he was a year old.  So, when I saw the Pumpkin Pie Chex Mix, I knew that I had to make it!  It takes only 15 minutes to make, and it was yummy!!  It will become a holiday staple at our house.

If you would like to host your own Chex Party Mix-Change, I have the perfect giveaway for you to enter!  You'll receive 2 boxes of Chex cereal, recipes, take-out boxes to send Chex Mix home with your guests and a $20 gift card to buy supplies!  You know the drill -- CLICK HERE to jump over to my giveaway form.  Enter the necessary information.

MANDATORY QUESTION: What's your favorite party food?

I'll draw a winner on Friday, January 6 from all the entries that followed the instructions.  I use to choose a winning entry.  Good Luck!!

*Disclsoure:  I received a gift package like the one I am giving away, thanks to MyBlogSpark and Chex Ceereals.  All opinions are my own.  No additional compensation was provided.*

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Disney on Ice - Phoenix - Discount Code!

I posted earlier this month that Disney on Ice presents Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3 was coming to Phoenix next month.  I still haven't told the kids we're going, but I DO have a discount code to share with my readers!

The deal is 4 tickets for $44 with the code MOMMYDEAL!

Valid only on Thursday 7:30 p.m., Friday 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 5:30 p.m. for the $14 and $18 tickets.  You can get the discount online, at the box office, and over the phone.

In the past, some readers have had questions about how to use the code online.

Here are step-by-step instructions to use the code online at Ticketmaster:

Type Disney on Ice and click the red search button
Scroll down to any of the following showtimes:
Thursday 7:30, Friday 10:30 and 7:30, Saturday 7:30 and Sunday 5:30
Click “Find Tickets”
Go to the “Advance or Promotion Ticket Selection”
Click how many tickets you would like
Click either the $14 or $18 price level (MUST SELECT ONE OF THESE PRICES TO GET THE DEAL)
Type code: MOMMYDEAL
Click the red “Find Tickets” button
Type in the security words
Click Continue
Select Delivery method, click continue
Log in or create a Ticketmaster account, click continue
Enter payment information.  If you click under Price Details, you will see that it is an $11 ticket (plus facility fees and convenience charges)

Restrictions – no double discounts, not valid on previously purchased tickets or group sales. Additional fees apply.

Keep reading!  I'll have a giveaway by New Year's for local readers to have a chance to win tickets to opening night!!

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and sharing my opinion, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld Shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-show events.  No additional compensation is provided.  All opinions are my own.*

Wordless Wednesday -- Tradition

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Random Acts of Zhu -- Christmas Donation

My kids were amazed when these boxes started arriving at our house in mid-December.  A few weeks before that, I let them know that I had applied for a chance to give away a ton of Zhu Zhu Pets to a local charity.

My kids have had a great time with Zhu Zhu Pets over the years, and we have been lucky with the chance to play with the latest and greatest toys from Cepia.  So, when Mom Select contacted bloggers seeking some who wanted to share the fun with local charities for Christmas, I was hopeful that I would be one of the chosen!

The boxes arrived over 3 days, and I piled them up in the corner.  Cepia sent a variety of Zhu Zhu Pets and accessories.  100 bloggers across the country received 100 toys to share in their local community.

The boys get out of school early on Wednesdays, and I really wanted them to be part of this donation.  When they got home, we loaded up the truck with the boxes and drove them over to our parish.  Our church was collecting gifts and food for needy families, and we were excited at the opportunity to make a huge donation.   When I stopped into the office and let them know I had a donation, they were happy to take it.  When the four of us showed up in the office piled high with boxes, they were surprised!  Even more surprised when I let them know I had more boxes in the car!

The kids were excited to show them the toys, and explain the accessories, to make sure that the kids got a great set of Zhu Zhu toys. When we left, Nate turned to me and said "That felt really good!!"  And, it reminded Colin of our project years ago of donating birthday bags (bags with cake mix, frosting, candles) and he said he would like to do that again, but add small gifts to the bags as well.

I feel very fortunate that we were able to bless our church families thanks to Cepia and MomSelect.  It was great to include the kids in such a wonderfully large donation.  It's great, too, working with companies who are dedicated to giving back to the community in large ways.  I know kids across the country were excited with their new toys, thanks to the efforts of Cepia and Mom Select.

It was a great note to end 2011, and I think it was a push for us to be more aware of the needs in our local community. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Disney on Ice: Toy Story Coming to Phoenix!

There's so much excitement surrounding Christmas, I'm not telling the kids yet about Disney on Ice's show that is coming to Phoenix January 18 - 22!  BUT, you can bet when the post-holiday blues hit, they will be thrilled to hear that we'll be attending opening night!

It's hard to believe that the first Toy Story came out in 1995!  My three kids have enjoyed the movies, and when Toy Story 3 was scheduled to come out in the theaters, Bo took the kids to see Toy Story and Toy Story 2 that were running on the big screen in anticipation of Toy Story 3's release.

We have attended a number of Disney on Ice shows over the past few years, and have always had a fantastic time!  It seems that each show is better than the last, but I guess the reality is that they are all so unique and well-done that they are very enjoyable on their own.

I am eager to see how they will transfer Toy Story 3 onto the ice, and I know the kids will be excited.  Tickets went on sale yesterday through Ticketmaster.   Opening night is Wednesday, January 18, 2012.  The show runs through January 22, 2012 at US Airways Center in Phoenix.

For a sneak peek of the show, visit and click on Toy Story 3.  Come back in a few days for a special discount code for my readers!

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and sharing my opinion, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld Shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-show events.  No additional compensation is provided.  All opinions are my own.*

Sponsored: What's for Dinner? (Giveaway)

I sometimes have the best intentions, but the reality is that I probably plan meals one week out of 10.  The rest of the time, I fly by the seat of my pants . . . meaning, actually, that we fly by the seat of my husband's pants because he steps up to take care of dinner more often than me.

Spaghetti is one meal that EVERYONE in our family will eat (well, Colin won't eat red sauce -- but that's an easy thing to leave off)  It is definitely our go-to dinner and we probably eat it a couple times per month.

What is your go-to dinner?  Ragu has some great conversations going on over at their Facebook page.    You'll find videos, comments and plenty of ideas on what to put on the table for dinner.  Heck, I may even watch a few videos before leaving work this week and surprise Bo by making dinner myself!

Ragu gave me five $10 gift cards to give away to my readers.  All you have to do is click HERE to pop over to my giveaway entry form.  Once there, fill in your info and the specific info listed below:

Giveaway Name: What's for Dinner?
Mandatory Question: What's your Go-To dinner?  

I will let help me choose a winner Friday, December 17, 2011.  You'll have a gift card in time to help you plan your New Year's Dinner -- and maybe one of your resolutions will be to plan dinners in advance.

*Disclosure: Gift cards provided by Ragu to give away to my readers.  I received a package from Ragu to help me plan dinner. (Do you think Bo called them?)  No additional compensation was provided.*

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- random texts

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Review: Punchbowl Party Planning Site

Have you visited Punchbowl?  It's a website for party planning and e-cards and it is pretty amazing!  I have found myself sending out invites for simple things -- just to have the fun of sending them.  Their invites are unique, in that they arrive in recipient's emails looking like a snail-mail card, complete with envelope and postage!  A click opens the envelope, and the invite appears.

Guests can RSVP on the site, and hosts can track responses, as well as receive and send notes. There are tons of themes, perfect for kids or adults.  So much of their site is free, but you can also purchase a subscription to access more content.

In addition to sending invitations, you can do all your party planning through the site, including finding local vendors. You can also set up email reminders for important events (like birthdays).  And, finally, you can send unique and creative e-cards.

Another thing I like about the site is that they highlight special days -- like today is National Gazpacho Day!  It's a fun addition and while the information is on their home page, they also update their Facebook page with each day's special commemoration. 

I have had fun playing around their site, and the invitations and cards I've sent have been well-received.  I like the convenience of online party planning and RSVP tracking, and the ease of using this site has made it my online party planning choice.  I recommend you check it out!  And, now, I need to plan some holiday parties.

*Disclosure: In exchange for this review, I received a paid subscription to Punchbowl. No additional compensation was provided.*

Monday, December 05, 2011

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

In late September, I heard about NaNoWriMo's Young Writer's Program and thought it might be fun to do with the boys.  I contacted Katie Charland, the director at Gangplank to see if she had anything planned.  She ran an amazing summer journalism camp for kids as part of her Gangplank, Jr. program and I thought NaNoWriMo would fit right in.

She said that she would love it if I would do something!  Of course, I couldn't say no.

She helped publicize it, and I got the information out in my circle, and in the end we had a small group of young people get together.  I was so impressed to hear about their plans for their novels and how ambitious they were when setting word counts.

Even Lydia got into it, and was very excited to write her own novel.  (It was about a princess who saved a prince, in case you were curious.)   Thanks to NaNoWriMo's youth website, the writers were able to update their word count and I was able to watch in amazement at the number of words they were writing.  As a group, they wrote over 50,000 words.  Pretty amazing for a group of kids ranging in age from 4 to 12!

This past Sunday, I got together with them one last time to celebrate their success.  The majority of writers met the word count goals they set for themselves, but found that their stories were still not completed. I hope they continue writing and see where their stories end up.  I know I am very interested in reading what they came up with.

I was very fortunate that Bookmans in Mesa donated gift bags to all the young writers I worked with. They received a great canvas bag, a sticker, a pencil AND a gift card to spend at the store. The kids were all very surprised, and very thankful for their generosity.

It's a great program, and I do look forward to next year.  I didn't meet my personal word count goal, but for the first time trying, I'm not too upset.  I'll have a better idea next year and I hope to work with an even larger group of kids.

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