Join us for a #CHALKPreschool Twitter Party

Join us for a #CHALKPreschool Twitter Party on December 10th from 2-3pm EST! I’ll be cohosting the party (and compensated to do so)

During our Twitter Party, we’ll have a chance to “meet” Jenna Capozzi, Executive Producer for Content for CHALK Preschool Online.  Jenna is a mom, as well as an accomplished Director and Producer of Children’s Content.  For the past 2 years, Jenna has teamed up with educator Angela Johnson for CHALK Preschool Online.


WHAT:  CHALK Preschool Twitter Party

WHEN:  Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 from 2-3 PM EST


WHO TO FOLLOW:  @themommyfiles (host), @brettbmartin (co-host), @CHALKPreschool(sponsor)

PRIZES:  (2) $25 Longshore Learning Gift Cards, (1) $50 Longshore Learning Gift Card, 1 Grand Prize of an iPad Mini
RSVP below (or over at The Mommy Files!)

The Best Gift I Ever Received ($100 Kohls Giveaway)

I think we all have a gift or two we’ve received that really just blew us away with the thought or the meaning.  For me, it was my first Cabbage Patch Kid.  I’d wanted one for SO LONG and all of my friends had them.  My mom had spent hours and hours in lines trying to get her hands on one, just one doll, and had no luck, and had warned me before Christmas that she’d not had luck.  She’d even had friends and coworkers looking.  But then on Christmas morning, I finished opening my gifts and stumbled on this little note, kind of stuck under the tree…and I wondered, how did we not see this when we were passing out gifts all day?  Curious, I tore into the note. (Truth be told, I was impatient and almost tore it in two.  Details).


My CPK actually CAME in this outfit. But mine had one dimple, like me!

Written on the note were instructions for me to go to another place in the house.  That led to another note…and another…and I would guess 5-6 notes later, I found myself in one of the secret rooms in the attic of the old Victorian house I grew up in.  I had no idea at all that I’d be finding my VERY OWN CABBAGE PATCH KID, especially since I misread the last instructions in my excitement and confusion and missed a few minor details (oops)….and then I found her.  The yellow box with cabbage leaves all over it…and a Cabbage Patch Doll of my very own.

I’m fairly sure that the neighboring towns heard my shrieks of delight when I found my doll…I just kept screaming and jumping up and down and hugging that box so so so tight!

cabbage patch kid

Of course, we’re 33 years away from that wonderful Christmas morning.  I believed in Santa, but somehow I knew deep down that my mom had spent so many hours of her own time trying to help me get that doll, and I knew I’d love her more than anyone ever loved a doll before. I don’t even have photos. (Hey, I’m the 8th kid between my parents, there’s not many photos of me in existence at all as a kid!) But I have those memories– and though my mom simply smiled when I finally made it downstairs and shouted Thank you so much to anyone who would listen, the glimmer of a tear in her eye as she turned to go back to what she’d been doing when I burst into the room with my Cabbage Patch Kid has stayed with me forever.  It’s that glimmer that’s given me  my Christmas crazy, my love for the holiday and the spirit of it all.  That magical spirit of Christmas.

Of course, if this all played out today, I’m sure my mom would have been able to set search alerts, checked for discounts or free shipping codes to save some money (and her time!!) and not had to stand for hours before work, during lunch and even after work on many occasions just to find that one elusive little doll that meant so very much to her little girl.  Knowing her, she’d likely have paid a little extra just to make sure it was under the tree.  It’s just how she was. But really, while I wish she hadn’t had to stand in the lines for hours on end, I think it made that little doll mean so much  more to me because she worked so hard to make sure I got her.

Shopping for that “best gift” has sure gotten a lot easier since the beginning of the internet and online shopping!  Now we can find what we are looking for and also look around for coupon codes or free ship codes that help us save a little cash.

What was the best gift YOU ever received?

Holiday Bonus Gift Card Offers

There are SO MANY Holiday Bonus Gift Card Offers out this time of year.  I decided to share as many as I can find with you so that you can keep track in one place (which is what I need to do)!

gift cards

Holiday Bonus Gift Card Offers

Applebee’s – Buy $50 in Gift Cards and receive a $10 Bonus Card (exp 2/28/14).

*NEW* Benihana – Get a $10 Promotional Card (valid 1/02/14 – 3/31/14) when you buy $50 in Benihana Gift Cards . (exp 12/31/13)

Bonefish Grill – Gift $100 worth of Gift Cards and you will get a FREE $20 Bonus Card (valid 1/1/14-2/10/14).

Boston Market – Receive a FREE $5 Bonus Gift Card for every $25 Gift Card purchased.

Buca di Beppo – Receive a $15 Reward Card (valid 1/1/14-2/28/14) when you purchase $50 in Gift Cards. If purchasing online you’ll receive your Reward Card via email within 5 business days.

Buffalo Wild Wings – Purchase $25 in Gift Cards and get a Blazin’ Bonus card that’s worth up to $100. This offer is valid in the restaurant only and while supplies last until December 31, 2013. The Bonus Card is valid January 1-February 28, 2014.

Butterbees – (Cincinnati, OH) Buy $50 in Gift Cards, receive a $10 Bonus Card. Purchase $100 in Gift Cards receive a $25 Bonus Card.

*NEW* California Pizza Kitchen – All registered members of Califonria Pizza Kitchen’s Pizza Dough loyal program will receive a $20 bonus card (redeem after 1/14/14) for every $100 or more in California Pizza Kitchen Gift Cards.

Carabba’s Italian Grill – Through 12/31/13 receive a $20 Bonus Card (valid 1/1/14-2/10/14) for every $100 in gift cards purchased.

Caribou Coffee – For every $25 or more in eGift Cards and receive a $5 eGift Card bonus. (exp 12/31/13)

*NEW* Carl’s/Hardee’s – Purchase $20 in gift cards and receive a coupon good for a FREE Original Size Dollar Thickburger. (exp 12/31/13)

*NEW* Cheesecake Factory – Receive a FREE slice of cheesecake (valid 1/1/14-3/30/14) with every $25 Cheesecake Factory gift cards purchased.

Chili’s – Get a $10 Bonus Card when you purchase $50 in Gift Cards.

City BBQ – From now until 12/24/13 purchase $25 in Gift Cards and receive a $5 Bonus Gift Card (valid after 12/25/13).

*NEW* Dairy Queen – (in participating stores only) Receive a FREE Small fruit smoothie when you purchase $15+ Dairy Queen gift card.

*NEW* Denny’s – Receive a $5 Bonus Card when you purchase a minimum of $25 in gift cards.

*NEW* Einstein Bros – For every $25 in gift card purchases receive a $5 bonus card (valid 1/1/14-2/28/14).

*NEW* Famous Dave’s – You’ll be given a $5 Reward Card for every $25 in gift cards purchased at Famous Daves.

Kroger – Receive 4 times fuel rewards (4 fuel points for every $1 spent) when you purchase a Gift Card at your local Kroger store from now until December 8, 2013. Sign into your Kroger account and load savings on your Gift Card Purchases. It’s like a win, win, win!

*NEW* (Landry’s Inc.) Aquarium Restaurant’s, Babin’s Seafood House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Cadillac Bar, Capi’s Italian Grill, Claim Jumper, Crab House, Fish Tales, Fisherman’s Wharf, Flying Dutchman, Harlow’s, Landry’s Corporate Card, Landry’s Seafood, Lighthouse Buffet, Mai Tai Bar, Rainforest Cafe, Red Sushi, Saltgrass Steakhouse, T-Rex, Yak & Yeti – Buy a $50 gift card and receive a $10 Reward card (valid 1/02/14-2/12/14). (expires 12/24/13)

*NEW* Lawry’s The Prime Rib/Five Crowns/SideDoor, Tam O’Shanter and Lawry’s Cavery – Receive a $25 Bonus Gift Card (valid 1/02/14-3/31/14) with every $125 in Gift Cards you purchase by December 31, 2013. Lawry’s VIP Rewards members also earn one rewards point for every one dollar spent on gift cards.

Logan’s Steakhouse – Grab $25 in Logan’s Gift Cards and receive a $5 Bonus Card (valid 1/02/14-2/12/14).

Longhorn – Save $5 off 2 adult entrees (valid 1/1/14-2/9/14) when you purchase $25 in Gift Cards.

Macaroni Grill – Pick up a $25 Gift Card and receive a FREE $5 Grazie Gift (valid 1/1/14-3/31/14).

Maggiano’s Little Italy – For every $100 purchase in Maggiano’s Little Italy’s gift cards receive a $20 off $50 Bonus Coupon and a 1 year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine, a $12 Value. If you’d like to skip the magazine you can opt for $12. For details heads to Maggiano’s website.

O’Charley’s – Buy $25 in Gift Cards and receive a $5 Reward Card (valid 1/1/14-2/13/14) good on a $10+ purchase.

Olive Garden – Grab $50 or more in Gift Cards and receive a $10 off two adult entrees (valid 1/1/14-2/9/14). This offer expires 12/25/13.

Outback Steakhouse – For every $100 in Gift Cards purchased receive a FREE $20 Bonus Card (valid 1/1/14-2/10/14). There is a limit of 10 cards. (Expires 12/31/13)

*NEW* Panera Bread – (online only) Receive a $10 eGift Card when you purchase $100+ In Panera gift or eGift cards. (Expires 12/31/13)

*NEW* Papa John’s – Purchase a minimum of $25 in Papa John’s Gift Cards and receive a reward code(expires 1/31/14) for 1 FREE Large 1 Topping Pizza. (Expires 12/31/13)

*NEW* Ramundo’s Pizza – (Cincinnati) Purchase four (4) $20 Gift Cards and receive one (1) $20 Gift Card FREE!

Red Lobster – Receive a $5 off coupon for every $25 Red Lobster Gift Card.

Red Robin – When you buy $25 in Gift Cards receive a $5 Bonus Buck (valid 1/1/14-2/28/14) or get a 20% discount on orders over $250+.

*NEW* Ruby Tuesday – Grab a $5 Bonus Card (valid 1/02/14-2/28/14) when you purchase $25 in Gift Cards or get a $15 Bonus Coupon when you purchase $50 in gift cards. (Expires 12/31/13)

Smashburger – Receive $5 Smash Card (valid 1/1/14-1/31/14) for every $25 in gift card purchases (Exp 12/31/13).

Steak ‘n Shake – Now through 12/31/13 purchase $20 in Gift Cards and receive a $5 Bonus Card.

Taco Bell – Purchase $20 in Gift Cards and receive 2 FREE Dorito Locos Tacos and a Large Drink! This offer is valid at participating locations and for a limited time.

Texas Roadhouse – For every $30 Gift Card purchase online you’ll receive a $5 eGift Card to enjoy at Texas Roadhouse. The Bonus eGift Card will be emailed within 48 hours with a max of $100 per order.

TGI Friday’s – For every $25 you spend on Gift Cards receive a $5 Bonus Bites card (valid 1/1/14-2/28/14).

Uno’s – Pick up a $5 Bonus Card (valid 1 /2/14-2/13/14) for every $25 in Gift Cards.

*NEW* White Castle – Receive a $5 Bonus Card (valid 1/1/14-2/28/14) for every $25 in Gift Cards purchased.

$250 Paypal or Amazon #Giveaway

It’s December and we’re celebrating with the Totally Awesome Christmas Giveaway! I’ve partnered with a group of fabulous bloggers to give you the chance to win a $250 prize. The winner will be able to pick how they receive their prize – either by Amazon gift card or cash via Paypal. And your prize will be delivered in time for you to do your holiday shopping!

Prize: $250 Amazon Gift card or cash (via Paypal)


Sponsors: Naturally FrugaliciousRandom ThoughtsLush to BlushThis Mama LovesMomma T and FamilyBlog by Donna and Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 12/17 and is open worldwide.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Making home dental care more affordable with Dollar General

This post brought to you by Dollar General. All opinions are 100% mine.

Having a bright, healthy smile just makes you feel better. Think about it. Your smile is the first thing that people see when they see you, and vice versa. When you give a big, wide, tooth-baring smile, you are showing how you feel without words, and it can make a big impact.
When your teeth are not at their best, neither are you. No one wants to worry about dental issues like coffee and tea stained teeth, tooth sensitivity, and unhealthy gums, which can all affect your smile. And lets face it; dental care can really add up. 
Keeping your Teeth healthy at home goes a big way in saving your smile and saving your money.  P&G Dental has come together with its dental care brands to make it a bit more affordable to keep your pearly whites healthy and, well, white at home. 
Crest Complete, 3D White, Crest Pro-Health, Scope, Oral B and Fixodent want you to feel your best and wear your smile proudly not only this holiday season, but all year round. 
I know that during stressful holiday shopping, a helpful, smiling store associate can really lift my mood, and keep me positive amidst all the chaos. It’s amazing how good a friendly smile from a stranger can make you feel, and I try to spread those smiles around when I am out as much as possible! Having healthy teeth and a great looking smile definitely makes me want to smile more, and keeping my teeth healthy is very important to me. 
Right now, you can get $0.50 off any Oral B toothbrush on the Dollar General website when you order any Crest or Scope products! 
Be sure to check out their website for more great P&G Dental products and promotions. 
Has a someone else’s smile ever made an impact in a first impression or experience for you? Tell me about it in the comments!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Estella Decks the Halls with Great Holiday Gifts for the Babies in Your Life

Your baby’s first Christmas is a big deal to everyone in his or her life even though we all know he’s not going to remember it. It’s more of a special occasion for the parents and family but we have every right to make it special. There are a million and one gift ideas out there for little babies like toys, toys, and more toys but you know that you already have enough of those to last a lifetime. Why not get something for your baby that you might actually need and that they will get some great use out of?T his post about holiday gifts for babies is brought to you by our friends at

Snowsuit has some adorable, unique clothing and accessories that any baby or young child would be confident wearing. With winter coming quickly upon us, a snowsuit is something that you may not have thought about purchasing yet, which is what makes it such a great holiday gift. It’s something you would have bought anyways so why not throw it in with the Christmas presents? It’s just one more thing that they’ll have fun unwrapping! This charming Imps & Elfs Baby Snowsuit comes in both Green and Rust and varies in sizes from 0-6 months for $79.99. Any little baby would look just too cute playing around in the snow wearing this.

Another beautiful clothing item that I stumbled upon is this playful Golden Pink Tutu. Every little girls dream is to be a princess or a fairy and this tutu will help their imagination flourish. Throw in a sparkly wand or a shiny princess crown and it makes the perfect holiday gift. You will see her eyes light up with joy when she tears away the wrapping paper. It’s also a perfect one size fits all with an adjustable waistline so it can grow with her; a great investment for only 76.00!Atsuyo pink tutu

Since its pretty cold around this time of year and you know she’s going to want to throw her tutu on right away, a pair of colorful Nununu star leggings to go along with it for 34.00 may be a smart idea. Coming in three different colors: green, pink, and grey, any little girl would be proud to prance around the house in these.

NUNU Star pants

Now, I know you remember being a young child and carrying your blanket around with you everywhere you went; everyone had a blanket like that so don’t even try to say you didn’t! Since every baby absolutely needs one of these, a plush, faux fur baby blanket is a gift that you will never go wrong on! For 64.00, The Little Giraffe Chenille Baby Blanket is something that I got for my daughter at a very young age and now you never see her without it. It has lasted a very long while and still remains as soft as the day I brought it home.

Chenille Blanket

Holiday Treat Recipes: Christmas Tree Cookie Cups

These Christmas Tree Cookie Cups are semi-homemade and take no time at all to put together!  Simple, fun and easy, these cookie cups are a fun and festive holiday treat.



1 Package of Pillsbury Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 1 Cup of heavy cream or whipping cream 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 2 tsp. powdered sugar Green Food Coloring (Find natural food colors !) Sprinkles for decoration (optional)


Holiday Treat Recipes: Christmas Tree Cups
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Semi-homemade cookie cups recipe
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 18
  • 1 Package of Pillsbury Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • 1 Cup of heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. powdered sugar
  • Green Food Coloring (Find natural food colors !)
  • Sprinkles for decoration (optional)
  1. In a well-greased cupcake pan, place one square of chocolate chip cookie dough, and bake according to directions.
  2. Allow cookies to cool completely and remove them from cupcake pan.
  3. In a chilled bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Add in vanilla extract, powdered sugar and food coloring and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Using a piping bag or zip lock bag with a small corner snipped, gently squeeze a circle of Cool Whip into the center of the chocolate chip cup, and in circular motion apply steady pressure working up to a point. Release pressure on piping bag, and in a swift motion, push down gently and pull up on the bag to create a peak at the top.
  6. Decorate with sprinkles
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



In a well-greased cupcake pan, place one square of chocolate chip cookie dough, and bake according to directions.
Allow cookies to cool completely and remove them from cupcake pan.
In a chilled bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add in vanilla extract, powdered sugar and food coloring and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Using a piping bag or zip lock bag with a small corner snipped, gently squeeze a circle of Cool Whip into the center of the chocolate chip cup, and in circular motion apply steady pressure working up to a point. Release pressure on piping bag, and in a swift motion, push down gently and pull up on the bag to create a peak at the top.
Decorate with sprinkles
Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Makes 18 Tree Cups


Holiday Shopping made easy with ShopRunner

Holiday shopping can be stressful. The crowded parking lots and stores, the long lines, and of course the limited supply of whatever it is that you are looking for can zap your holiday spirit. This post about holiday shopping made easy is brought to you by our friends at ShopRunner.

Thankfully – there is an easier way to get all your shopping done this year. ShopRunner is a partnership of top retailers and brands that understand shopping isn’t always relaxing and stress free. By joining together they are able to help you save time and money – a win/win in my book!
ShopRunner gives you access to a variety of online stores and millions of products helping you find everything you need right from your computer. As a ShopRunner member, you will receive unlimited Free 2-day Shipping, with no minimum order size, plus free shipping on returns and special member deals.  There’s a whole Gift Guide section which has many categories- my favorite of which (and didn’t show on the page) the Gifts Under $50 section.  This section was a pleasant surprise- it really has gifts for all ages!
ShopRunner is super easy to use. While shopping online at any of their participating stores, you simply select eligible items, place them in your cart, and choose ShopRunner at checkout. A very quick and easy money-saving-way to get your holiday shopping done!
I know the holiday season is a time for giving, but don’t forget about your needs while you are shopping for everyone else. There’s a whole lot of beauty products available- I’m actually perusing some fun beauty products for one of my nieces (shhh don’t tell!) and maybe a few things for me (I need something to put my makeup IN at home). With almost 65000 products from 56 stores, chances are pretty great that I’ll find something amazing for E and for me!
Holidays equal get togethers, lots of them, and you want to make sure you look your best. You can effortlessly get everything you need right through ShopRunner from the perfect outfit to your favorite makeup and beauty products. and are two of ShopRunners participating stores, and they have tons of great items designed to pamper you this winter. The perfect party look is just a few clicks away, and with free shipping you’ll keep some extra money in your wallet (so you can definitely splurge on that special new lipstick you’ve been eyeing :) )
Excited for this easier way to shop? You can try ShopRunner right now with their free 30-Day Trial!

Celebrating holiday MOMents with Sprout #SproutMOMent #CleverGirls #CGC

Moms are lucky for so many reason, but one big reason is that they get to have some very special, and unique, moments with their kids. Now, not all of these moments are great ones – they can include temper tantrums, and having to be the one that says no to a begging child – but often times they are… even if you don’t realize it until you are looking back on it a few years later 😉

The holidays have a way of bringing out the crazy for everyone. Kids enjoy tons of cookie and candy induced sugar highs, and there is always something that you want to get done or that needs to get done. Half the time, things don’t work out as planned, but that is okay too, because you are still creating a memorable moment.
Sprout has recently launched an awesome holiday campaign to celebrate these moments, or as Sprout is calling them “Holiday MOMents”. Every mom has them, and Sprout wants to help you celebrate all those silly, crazy, funny, tear-filled, totally-didn’t-go-as-planned, and amazing MOMents this holiday season!
I have really been enjoying looking through all the pictures that other moms have posted for the Sprout’s MOMents campaign – they have all made me smile and I can definitely relate to them in some way or another!

There were lots of really cute pictures of kids helping parents bake. This really hits home with me because holiday baking is a huge part of how we celebrate.

Baking cookies with my mom, and now with my kids, has been a family tradition for us since I was able to stand and bake. The best thing about making cookies, then and now, is taking a taste or two of the cookie dough! There have even been instances where more was eaten than baked, and my kids tend to end up covered head to toe in at least one ingredient – typically flour! – every year.

Those are the MOMents that I treasure. Things don’t always go as planned, cookies get burned or don’t come out looking how I wanted, but the memories that are made during that time spent together are what make them perfect, and why we continue the holiday baking tradition.
This picture of my little angels was snapped just a little while before the pageant started….during which….when Pastor Chuck said we’d be singing a hymn, my littlest one started belting out HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  At full volume.  When Mary and Joseph were arriving in Bethlehem, a certain someone announced quite loudly she had to go potty. So down we went, right through the middle of the pageant, to get to where we could safely head for the bathroom.  The finishing moment that day was when my oldest got her first bloody nose.  In the choir loft at the front of the church,wearing a 100% white angel costume.  Perfect? No.  Memorable? Yes.  Awful photo? Absolutely. But full of MOMents!
Ready to create your own Holiday MOMent picture?
Sprout has provided some great picture boarders with holiday captions to pair with your MOMents pictures. After liking Sprout on Facebook, you just pick the frame that fits your picture best, upload the matching picture, crop for the perfect fit, and you’re done!

Each holiday season provides so many opportunities to create special MOMents. The challenge is slowing our busy schedules down enough to appreciate and enjoy them! It can often be hard to remember to take a break and just enjoy the MOMent, but it is definitely worth it!
What are some of your favorite Holiday MOMents? Tell me in the comments!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Just Dance Kids 2014 is fun for ALL ages! #justdancekids2014 #cgc

Everyone loves to dance, and kids have some of the best dance moves around. Encourage your kids to get up and get dancing with Just Dance Kids 2014! With over 30 all new dances led by real kids, your kids will bopping away in no time.

Featuring a great mix of kids songs, Just Dance Kids 2014 has hits from top-rated TV shows as well as some of todays hottest hits.  “Hit The Lights” by Selena Gomez & The Scene, “One Thing” by One Direction and “Give Your Heart a Break” by Demi Lovato are seamlessly mixed with hits from Yo Gabba GabbaThe Wiggles, and Victorious. There are even some classic favorites like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” that will get parents up singing and dancing along too.
It’s near impossible to get a good pic of my kids playing this game.  They don’t want to stop moving….dancing…singing along.
Just Dance Kids 2014 has some new and improved features that parents and kids are going to love!!

Exclusively for Kinect for the Xbox 360 is the Just Create Mode. Kids are going to love being the star of the show! While in the Just Create Mode kids can create their own original choreography and dance routines, all while staring in their very own music video.  My kids are just starting to explore this part of the game- they are actually fervishly cleaning the house right now so they can have a “dance game party” when chores are done.  Not a bad motivator!!
There are simple menu icons that allow kids to navigate the game on their own, and parents can help out with younger kids by creating playlists full of favorite songs for nonstop dancing. There are even onscreen lyrics to help kids learn all the words and sing along as they dance. Follow the Ubisoft blog for tips and ideas.
Fun for all ages, Just Dance Kids 2014 is a must have game!

Have you done any of the Just Dance games? What’s your favorite? Just Dance games are available on Amazon and other retailers for purchase (and many on sale with Free Shipping!)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.