Taking a break from holiday chaos with Café Escapes & Sweepstakes #IndulgeAnytime

It’s a funny thing- I’d had this idea in my head of what I’d be writing for this post, about my taking a break from the chaos of the holidays–  and then my family got sick.  Several doctor appointments, 105++ fevers and a trip to the emergency room later, I have 2/3 kids with pneumonia and I’m down for the count with bronchitis and an ear infection.  My husband’s diagnosis is pending as I write this.  The chaos of the holidays came to a screeching halt this weekend, and our plans went right out the window.  So my break from holiday chaos has included snuggles, blankets, tissues, board games, medicine, napping, lots of fluids, and a few presents in between.  We’ve had no chaos, and honestly? I’ve loved every single moment of it, although I’d really like for my kids to not be so sick.  Don’t you worry, I’ve still spent a great deal of time indulging in some delightful coffee and tea drinks  while sitting on the couch and snuggling- I may be free of chaos but I still like to have my escapes, and with sick kids waking up several times a night, I’m tired!   Yesterday my 7 year old and I had some nice  Cafe Escapes hot chocolate (yes, with a candy cane) while doing our first 300 piece puzzle together.  Quality time, indulging ourselves,  and escaping the chaos.  Coincidence? No.

#indulgeanytime

My indulgences lately have been sitting and staring at the Christmas tree- and bubble baths.  We’ve not had a suitable tub for baths- gosh, since I met my husband, and when we redid our bathroom this summer, we got a nice big Americast tub which keeps that water toasty warm for at least an hour, and is deep enough for a good soak.  My favorite thing to do has been a luxurious bubble bath with a nice hot cup of chai tea or (decaf) coffee when the kids go to bed- I feel so recharged and refreshed when I do it (plus, I smell great!).

Cafe Escapes #indulgeanytime

Since I’m a new Keurig owner, I’ve been having so much fun indulging myself regularly- with all kinds of fun coffee brands and flavors.  I’ve been really enjoying the Cafe Escapes K-Cups line- the Chai Latte is wonderful to enjoy while soaking in the tub.  They also have a caramel, mocha and vanilla- each of which I’ve enjoyed already. I hear the dark chocolate is divine from good friends but I’m trusting their word- I’m not a dark chocolate girl.  A friend of mine just got a full shipping box (2 24 packs) of the dark chocolate flavor for Christmas so clearly, it’s awesome.  I’m so in love with the Chai Latte I am planning to go ahead and order a case myself- I’m afraid to run out and it’s been a great relief for my very sore throat.  Each of the varieties I have tried of the Cafe Escapes is just as good as the next- wonderful layers of flavor, brewed to perfection without being too strong- just how I like my hot drinks!

Speaking of indulging, Cafe Escapes is doing a great Facebook sweeps called Indulge Anytime , with 2 winners daily Monday through Friday through January 9, 2013.  Entry is really simple, and I like the sweeps not just for the prizes (which are awesome) but simply by the entry method they are encouraging people to take a break from the chaos of the holiday season- something we all need to do!   There are also 6 grand prize winners, one per week.  All you need to do to enter is upload your #indulgeanytime photo to the app (easy instructions) and you will be entered!  You CAN enter daily, so feel free to indulge every day until January 9th- doing so might get you a fabulous prize!  GOOD LUCK!

Daily prizes for 2 winners include an indulgent spa gift basket, consisting of:

–          Luxury robe

–          Slippers

–          Vanilla scented candle

–          Wooden hand massager

–          Soft, luxury blanket

Grand prize (6 total winners, every Monday the winner will be announced):

In addition to our daily prizes, we’re giving away a grand prize every week: a spa getaway weekend in San Diego or Atlanta!

 Here’s what you’ll get if you’re one of the six winners:

–          SAN DIEGO OR ATLANTA SPA WEEKEND

–          Round-trip coach airfare for you and a guest from the major airport closest to your home to Atlanta, GA or San Diego, CA

–          Two nights accommodations at La Costa Resort & Spa or Chateau Elan

–          Rental Car

–          $800 to use towards the spa

 

So how do you indulge?  What’s your “everyday” indulgence?

Café Escapes is the brand of hot, flavored indulgent beverages that provide you an everyday treat and a chance to relax and savor a moment of your day, whether at home or at work.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.

5 (ok 6) Non Violent and/or Educational Video Games for Kids

I am not a fan of violent video games.  My husband does play some, but he does so when our children are in bed for the night and he just wants to chill for a while.  Me, I’ll take a cute  game any time, or a word game.  But never violence. I’m especially not a fan of games with violence for children, especially for young children. We have violence everywhere in our lives, and there are just SO many great non violent options to find! An added bonus I keep finding?  These games are almost always priced LESS than their more violent counterparts.  Makes no sense to me. Here are some of OUR family favorites for non-violent video games- for Nintendo DS, LeapFrog Explorer/LeapPad, Nintendo Wii, XBOX. Scholastic is a brand known for quality, fun educational content, so I don’t think anyone will be surprised that I will highly recommend anything they put out.  The I Spy Games for DS and Leapfrog are fabulous- my kids adore the I Spy series, and while we do always prefer books, at least mama does, at least when the kids are playing these games, I know that they are engaged and learning and not just pressing buttons. scholastic ds games

  • I SPY® TWO GAME PACK for NINTENDO DSTM  & Nintendo WII includes two of the popular franchise’s award-winning titles – I SPY Fun House and I SPY Universe. Together, the games feature more than 50 riddles and over 200 levels of play for seek-and-find fans of all ages. To escape the topsy-turvy world in I SPY Fun House, players must earn tickets by completing games, riddles, and the ultimate Prize Popper challenge. I SPY Universe takes players on a different kind of puzzle-solving adventure – a trip through the cosmos. Players unlock new planets and explore the universe while searching for over 400 objects in 36 I SPY riddles, and playing six brain-teasing games.
  • For children 5-8, SMART GAMES FOR KIDS TWO GAME PACK for NINTENDO DSTM  – inclusive of two popular Nintendo DSTM titles – My Amusement ParkTM and Digging for Dinosaurs®. In My Amusement ParkTM, kids build and run their own entertainment venue. Players can choose from four different themes to create rides, food venues, and special attractions in their own personal park. Digging for Dinosaurs® challenges players with a variety of distinctive mini-games that range from simulated paleontological digs to dinosaur battles, all while teaching interesting facts about more than 20 prehistoric species.

I have to tell you that this Digging for Dinosaurs is a hot game with the Kindergarten and First Grade crowd.  My son saw it at Kohl’s months ago and still asks me about it weekly. “Mom, did you get that dinosaur game for my DS yet?”  Well, yes I have but it’s a secret, tucked away for Christmas.  Dinosaurs are cool, and kids can learn, play the “big kid” DS system, and still have fun- without violence. LeapFrog is another very well known, high quality brand that devotes a great deal of research and investment in producing games and toys that both educate and engage- in very fun, interactive ways. leapfrog explorer magic school bus game

The Magic School Bus: Oceans is now available for LeapFrog®’s award-winning Leapster Explorer™ and LeapPad™. Designed for children ages 5-8, The Magic School Bus: Oceans teaches young gamers hundreds of interesting facts about ocean life through fun trivia challenges and seven highly replayable games. Players can earn special badges by performing well in games or trivia challenges, and can redeem these badges for additional features – like decorations for the bus or a customized Magic School Bus driver’s license – through the LeapFrog® Connect Application.

We are kind of new to the Magic School Bus scene.  We have this game on DS and LeapPad, and in my house, it’s preferred on the LeapPad. It may simply be this way because all three kids can see the screen of the pad better than the DS- but they all like the game, even my 3 year old, though she obviously needs a lot of help with it. tangled wii

Tangled– There’s a little bit of the frying pan action, so I hesitated to put this in, but really, this is a CUTE game, easier to control so the littler ones can enjoy it, and when you whip Rapunzel’s hair around, flowers grow.  My girls adore this game, we have it for the Wii.

kinect nat geo tv xbox

Nat Geo TV for Kinect is FABULOUS!  National Geographic, but interactive.  Gorgeous photos and superb graphics.  Great for all ages.  It’s fun to even watch the kids play. funky barn 3ds Funky Barn for DS- this game is just hilarious.  Its cute, it’s fun, whether you are in 2D or 3D mode (I can’t stand 3D anything lately, I think I’m getting old).   Kids (and adults) can learn about working on a farm- in an oddball way, but they are still learning!

I hope this list helps you. I know so many little ones really want to have a gaming system and maybe like me, you are not really wanting to get them into violent games to start.  Let me know if you have other suggestions or ideas- I’d love to add them!   Some of these games were received to include in the gift guide- some are simply games my family loves.  Opinions are my own.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cool Whip Frosting {recipe} $100 Prize Pack Giveaway

Over the summer I started to hear a lot about Cool Whip Frosting. I even hosted a twitter party focused on Cool Whip Frosting.  It wasn’t easy to find around here, until quite recently.  I still can’t find the chocolate kind but give me some time. I’m nothing if not persistent. So last week…I finally brought some of this adorably packaged frosting home and popped it into the freezer, thinking how fun it would be to do some cupcakes or something with the kids after school. (Write this down: Cool Whip Frosting is found in the freezer section of your grocery. Three flavors: Vanilla, Cream Cheese and Chocolate, unless you live near me in Connecticut….either no one wants to send chocolate over here or someone’s hoarding it.  Either way, I’m out of luck, you are out of luck.  For now).

Today was the day to do something fun after school, for absolutely no reason. That’s kind of the “thing” about the Cool Whip Frosting.  It’s whipped and sweet and a really fun way to do something special for absolutely no reason!  So today, we declared it to be FROSTING day! Cool Whip wants us to celebrate the little things in life.  Like “yay! Mommy found the last gift on the shopping list! No more holiday shopping!” is a good reason.  Anything goes. Frosting for dinner!

Sadly,my husband doesn’t always applaud my thinking when that thinking includes a tub of frosting being the dinnertime meal. So I decided that I’d make some Hot Chocolate Cupcakes to go underneath the cupcakes, and then reluctantly baked some chicken and made some rice to go with it.  You know.  For the kids and stuff.  So we had the cupcakes AFTER the healthy meal (which did include salad, thankyouverymuch).

Here’s the thing about the way I do recipes. I’m not a foodie.  I like easy, simple recipes that are, as my family says, Brett-proof.  I’m not Martha Stewart. So.  If you want to know how to make Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cool Whip Frosting, read the next section.  If not, skip to the bottom where I share the giveaway details.  (The cupcakes are totally worth making.  Super easy).

hot chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow cool whip frosting

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes: 

1 chocolate cake mix 3 packets hot cocoa mix (or 1 cup hot cocoa mix) (with mini marshamallows will add a certain  level of awesomeness something but these are your cupcakes, and I leave this decision up to you).

whatever the cake mix tells you to do (which is normally something like eggs, water, oil?)

Follow instructions on the box- and here’s where it gets really tricky- add in the cocoa mix as you add the other ingredients.  A little at a time, all at once.  It doesn’t matter. Just get it in there. You can do cake or cupcakes. I did cupcakes. (Then the littles can all decorate their own and no one ends up pulling hair or screaming).

Marshmallow Cool Whip Frosting:

1 tub Cool Whip Frosting (Vanilla)

1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff (I’m sure there are many wonderful people who make homemade fluff. I’m not one of them).

Fold the fluff into the frosting.

Now- when the cupcakes or cakes are cool, frost them with the newly-made Marshmallow Cool Whip Frosting.  Voila.  Hot chocolate in a cupcake form.

If you want to go all fancy and stuff, add some shots (some of you, I understand, refer to these as “jimmies” or “sprinkles” but you are wrong.  They are shots.  Ask my sisters. They agree with me). or crushed candy cane.

 

COOL WHIP Frosting would like to provide one US reader  with a “reasons to celebrate” COOL WHIP Frosting pack valued at $100 which includes:

  • 3 Gratuity coupons (so remember to find us in the freezer aisle!)
  • Heart shaped silicone cupcake mold tray
  • Baking by Flavor – Recipe book by Lisa Yockelson
  • Cupcake Liners
  • Stainless Steel Cake Icing Spatula by MIU
  • Cake Stand plus Cover Set

To Enter: Leave a comment telling one what your favorite “non” reason to celebrate is!

Want extra entries?Leave a separate comment for each entry method you do and either leave your username or the URL of your “share”

*Click on any image or link in this post about Recalls (andit’s a great app to download!) Comment here that you clicked (can be done 1x/day)

*Leave a relevant comment on this post 

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*Follow Cool Whip on Follow PlayMG on Pinterest

*Leave a comment on any non-giveaway post +1 entry/day

*Share this giveaway on any social networking site- +1 entry per share per day (can be done on multiple sites)

This giveaway will end on December 29 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner has 24 hours to confirm shipping info.

 

I am working in partnership with the COOL WHIP brand and I am receiving product samples for my participation in this campaign. All thoughts/opinions are 100% my own.

Dremel Tools- Find anything Pinterest-ing lately?

I have a GREAT idea for an unexpected and awesome gift for your favorite Pinterest-obsessed friend or family member (OR yourself…)… give the gift of DREMEL!  I won’t lie, when I think of tools, I almost always think of my husband. Or of how tools are made for hands larger than my own.  But that’s another post.  Dremel gave me a whole new way to think of tools- all thanks to Pinterest!  We’ve all seen some fantastic products on Pinterest, suggestions, ideas, tips, crafts- projects, plans, etc.  But so many of us do not have the tools to use to create things the same way as the instruction scall.  Thanks to Dremel, we can easily have these tools, and in a handy case, for a reasonable price.  Win, win!

Plus, for those of us who are chronic pinners and don’t usually get around to actually DOING what we pin, this might just be that little kick in the pants that we need!  My husband is a handy guy and always gets fun tools and accessories for Christmas- he’s getting one of the Multi-Knife Accessory kits in his stocking along with some other goodies!

For the Pinterest Pinner:

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for crafters, hobbyists and DIY’ers. For friends and family who spend more time pinning projects than doing them, these tools that can help inspire them to get started:

dremel 8220

  • ·         Dremel 8220 12V Rotary Tool ($99-$139) – Take on nearly any project with this new rotary tool. From hobbies like jewelry-making or glass-engraving, to tackling household repairs, the Dremel 8220 cordless rotary tool provides versatility and precision for projects large and small. We are fans of Dremel- we have a few items in the garage from them. They come in a really nice, sturdy case that holds up to whatever we throw at it (literally and figuratively) and the components are great quality.  Very well crafted.  My husband’s concern with the cordless design of these is that the battery life may be shortened if you aren’t using the tool frequently to keep the battery going.  That said, he LOVES the convenience and lack of obstruction with a cordless tool and will always opt for cordless over corded.
  • ·         Dremel Trio™ ($99) – Thanks to the resurgence of the Shabby Chic design trend, refinishing and distressing furniture pieces has become a popular hobby. For those on your list who have a knack for breathing new life into furniture and décor, the Dremel Trio will allow them to tackle multiple materials and planes without switching tools.

For the Home Handyman:

For the handyman or woman who has all the basic tools to tackle home DIY projects, the holidays are a great time to take their tool arsenal up a notch:

dremel mm20

  • ·         Dremel Multi-Max™ MM20 ($99) – Repair. Remodel. Restore. The Dremel Multi-Max MM20 offers do-it-yourselfers and pros a versatile and effective multitasking tool. The Multi-Max can cut into a variety of materials including stone, sheet metal and cement with precision, power and ease, so users can tackle an array of applications quickly and comfortably.
  • ·         Dremel Saw-Max™ ($129) – Making cuts with a saw can be a daunting task, but at one-third the size and weight of a traditional circular saw, the Dremel Saw-Max allows users to make smooth cuts on a variety of materials with easy, one-handed operation.

Stocking Stuffers

Finish out your list with the perfect stocking stuffer from Dremel. There are a wide array of accessories and attachments for Dremel tools, at every price level.

  • ·         Dremel EZ Twist Nose Cap ($6.99) – A must-have for anyone with a Dremel rotary tool, the EZ Twist Nose Cap makes changing accessories on a Dremel rotary tool faster and easier.
  • ·         Dremel Multi-Max Drywall Jab Saw Accessory ($9.99) – Designed to be the fastest-cutting drywall blade available, the Drywall Jab Saw is the only oscillating blade that makes both straight and curved cuts in drywall, ideal for cutting out electrical boxes and recessed lighting.
  • ·         Dremel Multi-Max Multi-Knife Accessory ($14.99) – Quickly and easily cut carpet, vinyl, boxes, shingles, foam, insulation and plastic with the Dremel Multi-Knife. Two cutting edges allow users to cut in either direction; the inside-facing edge is designed for cuts requiring a pulling motion and the outside-facing edge is designed for cuts requiring a pushing motion.
  • ·         Dremel Saw-Max Cutting Kit ($39.99) – Includes seven Saw-Max wheels, including diamond and carbide wheels,  to cut tile, drywall, wood, plastic, metal, cement, brick and more.

I think it’s time for me and the rest of my fellow chronic pinners to take action with (Dremel) tools in hand! Just make sure you and I follow each other so I can see your pins!  (http://pinterest.com/brettmartin/)

 

Samples were received in exchange for posting about these products. Opinions are my own as always!

 

 

National Geographic Kids’ Gift Ideas

One of the first things that pops into mind when someone hears National Geographic is probably the beautiful photographs that NG is so well known for.  Even when I wasn’t interested in a topic, I remember always being amazed at the pictures in every edition of National Geographic that arrived at our doorstep (I don’t remember a time my parents didn’t subscribe, to be honest).  Back “in the day” we didn’t have National Geographic Kids, and I’m so glad we do now.  NG Kids has found a way to bring together science and culture and pop culture and make them so appealing that kids get excited to read them.  I have several gift ideas from National Geographic Kids sure to please any kid on your list- and, encourage a love of learning on the side!

All of the National Geographic Kids’ items are available on www.shopnationalgeographic.com as well as several other retailers- BUT I have to tell you that I just noticed that when you purchase 3 National Geographic Kids’ Books from their website, you save 20% off your purchase price!

I’m sure you have heard of Angry Birds, if you haven’t played a round or two yourself.  My son and husband LOVE Angry Birds, and truth be told, I’ve been finding my 3 year old in her bed when she’s supposed to be napping, Angry Bird-ing away with my iPad very frequently lately.  I’d seen that National Geographic Kids had an Angry Birds book out and had made a mental note to grab a copy for Christmas for my son- but imagine my delight when he’d seen the book someplace and came home ASKING for it!  Kudos to National Geographic for taking a hot pop culture game and pulling it right into the world of science and nature, and drawing kids in.  If you have an Angry Birds fan in your house, I’d definitely grab Angry Birds Playground: Animals!  It’s never a bad thing to encourage kids to read- and learn- a great way to pull those video games into “real” life!

angry birds playground animals

With the help of their favorite Angry Birds characters readers will learn about five different habitats by pairing the eggs found throughout the book with their original region. Kids will also learn about the diverse range of egg-producing animals, everything from fish to amphibians to mammals. Packed with learning exercises and fun activities, this book will transform kids into explorers and leave them wanting more adventure.

There are also 2 other Angry Birds books in the series (perhaps more to come?)

national geographic kids animal encyclopedia

Animal Encylopedia – This book is amazing.  A “must” for any family or classroom.
$24.95
Kids love to learn about animals and this book showcases more than 1,000 gorgeous color photographs as only National Geographic—the leader in wildlife photography—can. Featuring 2,500 species and packed with stunning color photographs, amazing animal facts, maps, and more, the new National Geographic Kids Animal Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource of its kind available today.

 

5000 Awesome Facts is, in a word, awesome.  My kids love this book.  It’s definitely not a small book, but a great conversation starter and definitely a great way to figure out “what to do today” when nothing around the house seems inspiring.  Open the book, pick a page and voila! Inspiration may strike.  We LOVE this book in our house.


5000 awesome facts

Book of Animal Poetry– Full of sweet, simple poems accompanied by gorgeous photography.  I kind of want to remove the pages of this one and frame them to hang on the wall!

Just Joking Kids– Over 300 jokes, riddles, rhymes and tongue twisters to get that funny bone going.  Kids love jokes- there’s a ton of them in here!

nat geo wild anteater bug vac

Check out the Nat Geo Wild Anteater Bug Vac– What a fun way to get kids to WANT to go outdoors!
This baby anteater has an appetite for insects! With the touch of a button, you can quickly and safely suck bugs up into the anteater’s clear, removable belly chamber for up-close viewing. Works indoors or outdoors, and it’s perfect for curious budding scientists who like examining—but not touching!—creepy, crawly bugs.

Got early readers? There are 5 levels of readers from National Geographic with appropriate content and language for each level.  These are wonderful stocking stuffers!  (Our family faves are the Mummies, Dolphins, Sharks and Caterpillars to Butterflies books).  Priced at $3.99 (and 20% off if you buy 3) mean they are super easy on the wallet, too.

kinect nat geo tv xbox

National Geographic has a huge range of products- from and they have even partnered with Microsoft for the Kinect Nat Geo TV game for the XBOX!

We are still investigating this game but I LOVE, LOVE LOVE that there are companies like National Geographic Kids who are so dedicated to continuing to inspire and help children to learn- to want to learn- in so many creative ways.  Incorporating what kids are so into with the educational components is almost always a recipe for success.  As with all Microsoft games I’ve seen, the game itself is remarkable.  Excellent graphics, sound effects, and even THIS mama is able to figure out how to move with the Kinect (I’m used to a joystick- or the modern day equivalent of one!)  I will be able to share more after the kids’ school vacation when we can really spend some time playing together- things have been so hectic with holidays!   It’s priced lower than most XBOX games I have seen which is a bonus in my book, plus it’s educational and I like that a lot.

Kinect Nat Geo TV blends world-renowned Nat Geo WILD TV show episodes with Kinect for Xbox 360, transporting kids and their families around the world, expanding knowledge and inspiring a sense of wonder and excitement. Engage, play and learn as Kinect Nat Geo TVturns your living room into an animal habitat and you into a variety of animals, such as a bear, without ever leaving your living room.

Your purchase comes with a one year Season Pass with new featured shows every month and unlimited access to Nat GEO WILD episodes on demand.

Of course, if you want to give the gift that keeps on giving, there’s always the National Geographic Kids and Little Kids magazine subscriptions, which would be a great gift alone or paired with one of the books or the Anteater Bug Vac!

Don’t forget you can find many of the National Geographic Kids’ products in many retail stores and online- they are a great gift alone or as an add on to a gift (or stocking stuffer!)

What are YOUR favorite gift ideas to encourage learning from National Geographic Kids?

 

 

Some items received for inclusion in gift guide. Some are just items we have that are awesome and I wanted you to know.  Opinions are always my own!

 

The kids may leave your phone and tablet alone with the MG! (Giveaway)

play mg android based gaming device giveawayAttention parents! You may get your smartphone back– without having to get your kid their own!  Play MG (M=More G=Game) is an Android based gaming system designed for young people under the age of 18. It’s got a nice-sized 4 inch touchscreen and over 60,000 apps to choose from.  Kids can use their own money to buy more apps and games, or maybe, if they get lucky, a little of mom and dad’s money instead. The MG has a sleek, modern design and will definitely fill that tech-lovers need to have a cool new gadget- at a surprising price that won’t break the bank.  The reason?  There is no contract for service.  No data plan to pay for each month.  The MG uses wi-fi.  It’s kind of like a little tablet that fits in your pocket.  It’s got photo and video capability with a 1.3 megapixel camera.  With the wifi and the camera capabilities, I think this does work more like a pocket sized tablet than a gaming system.  I think the “big names” are going to have some serious competition on their hands!

play mg with charger and protective case

The MG comes preloaded with 11 games.  Eleven.  That’s not too shabby.  The unit alone sells for $169.99 although it’s marked down to $149.99 right now AND it comes with some extras- including $10 of premium games already loaded onto the unit, an 8gb micro SD card, plus a $10 credit on the “BillMyParents” SpendSmart prepaid with Mastercard on deposit (which is where you can have your own money or the kids’ money loaded to add more games to their MG). The charger isn’t included with purchase because the device can go into any standard USB charging port.  That’s good for our earth! (And in my house, one less thing to lose track of…)

Not sure you want to have all of those games already loaded when you gift the MG?  No problem- there are 2 other options for purchase right now- one is the MG unit with a case plus charger, priced at $159.99- which comes to a $15 overall savings. Be prepared because there are 5 case colors to choose from.  Not adult colors and definitely not little kid colors- perfect for the teens and tweens who will be using this device!  The 8mg micro SD is included on all of the MG models!

The last option for purchase right now is the MG gaming system with 2 cases. This would probably be my first choice- if only because I love cases and view them as accessories first and protection second.  This runs for $169.99.  This would be an awesome holiday gift and if you wanted to add something else, you could add some cash to a “BillMyParents” card!

 

The $10 worth of top EA Mobile games ‘Need for Speed Hot Pursuit’ and ‘NBA JAM’ preloaded
• Eight Com2uS popular game titles preloaded; Slice It, Swing Shot, Homerun Battle2, Tiny Farm, Tower Defense, 9 Innings Baseball, Super Action Hero and Derby Days
• Proprietary MG Origins Avatar System: as gamers use the MG, they gain points, customize and unlock the origin= story of their own personal gaming companion
• 1.3 Megapixel Front-­‐Facing Camera and ability to shoot and play video
• Stereo Headset Jack
• Operating on ICS 4.0

Did I mention? The MG fits in your pocket!  This is going to get parents their smartphones back, my friends.  Just you wait.  Of course, I have a feeling that a few parents may start playing with the MG themselves….it’s a pretty cool device, after all. Parents can also rest assured because of Remote Trust that all MG units come with – parents can access and view anything their child is looking at, downloading or playing on the MG.

Play MG is available for purchase on their website and also on Amazon.com. This would make a marvelous gift.

Now the exciting part: one lucky reader will win a PlayMG of their own! 

To Enter: Leave a comment telling one feature of the MG device you like or can’t wait to check out!

Want extra entries?
Leave a separate comment for each entry method you do and either leave your username or the URL of your “share”

Visit PlayMg.com and tell me something you like or learned.  Leave a comment with what you learned, liked, loved or bought!

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*Leave a relevant comment on this post 
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This giveaway will end on December 21 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner has 24 hours to confirm shipping info. We’ll do our best to get this to you by 12/24!

A sample was provided to facilitate this post. Opinions are my own.

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recalls plus I am willing to wager a bet that most of you, like me, have bought presents- toys, specifically,  to give to children this holiday season. But what a lot of us don’t stop to think about is safety- or possible recall. I know that I truly didn’t even think about recalls when purchasing gifts until just yesterday- and now I sit here scratching my head wondering why it never occurred to me before.  I get email alerts daily with any recall notifications- but I kind of always thought of those as “stuff you already have” recalls, not things I’m purchasing now, you know? But now it’s in my head and I’m so happy I have a smartphone, because now I have Recalls Plus on it and I can get alerts any time there’s a recall- and not just on toys.  (You can use Recalls Plus with Facebook if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet).

When my oldest was 18 months, we gave her a little doctor set from a very well known brand for Christmas.  She was delighted and played with that set for hours each day.  I had enough checkups between Christmas and New Year’s to keep me healthy until 2076- until the day I realized that a piece of the stethoscope was gone, poof, vanished, and nowhere to be found.  A perfect choking sized piece.  Thankfully, my daughter hadn’t ingested it (or if she did, we never “caught” it), but I called the company immediately once I determined she was ok.  I won’t ever know if it was my call that set the wheels in motion, or if mine was the first (or last) of many, but I do know that same doctor kit was recalled not long afterward.  I was quite impressed with how the company handled things- they sent me a prepaid shipping box so that they could inspect they toy pieces.  They also sent a very generous gift certificate so that we could replace our daughter’s beloved toy.  I was very impressed with how seriously they took my phone call, and how quick they were to do right by us, but also to look into it further.

Recalls Plus helps us get alerted instantly when there are recalls.  It’s been designed by parents of young children FOR parents of young children, and you are able to select an age range appropriate for your family or for those you are purchasing for, so that you are notified of the recalls that will affect you most directly.  You can also track recalls on items you have, or are thinking of purchasing.

recalls plus recall alerts based on age
The other “big” thing that Recalls Plus monitors is 8 FDA-mandated food allergy recalls.  This is HUGE in these times of anaphylactic allergies- now you can know before you hit the store that that salad dressing you’ve been wanting to try has a dairy product in it but it isn’t labelled.  Food allergies are a scary thing for so many families, and it’s my opinion that you can’t be too safe when allergies are life threatening.  Apps like this will be a huge help to parents and caregivers- and even to the kids with allergies as they get older. The app will alert you or you can search through a nationwide list of recalls reported.

recalls plus facebook

Some recent recalls shared on Recalls Plus:

1. Dream on Me Ultra 2 in 1 Infant Tub, Toddler, Niagra, Baby Bath Seats

Hazard: The bath seats can tip over, posing a risk of drowning to babies.

2. Sportspower Sports Authority Parkside Trampolines
Hazard: The trampoline’s metal legs can move out of position and puncture the jumping area, posing a risk of injury.

3. Step2 X-Rider Car Children’s Riding Toys
Hazard: Children who lean too far forward on the seat can go over the handle bar and hit the ground.

4. JoAnn Fabric and Craft Foam Pumpkin Turkey Craft Kit
Hazard: Magnets holding the pumpkin shell pieces together can become loose, posing an ingestion hazard.

5. Boden Children’s Pajamas
Hazard; The pajamas fail to meet federal flammability standards for children’s sleepwear, posing a risk of burn injuries to children.

**All products listed above where listed on Recalls Plus within the past two months. Product recalls were identified by the appropriate government agency. Please go the Recalls Plus App for more information about the above recalls

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I’ve downloaded this free app, will you?

 

 

 Thanks to Recalls Plus for sponsoring today’s discussion

Just Dance Disney Party rocks! #JDDisney

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps

 

My kids are all about Disney.  It’s one of the few channels the kids watch, and can all enjoy together.  I’ve caught my husband watching some of the shows when the kids are in bed.  (I’ve done the same, but it seems funnier when it’s him…)  Just Dance Disney Party brings dozens of the kids’ favorite songs from Disney right into our living room- through our XBOX Kinect– along with cool dance moves.  We may not have the moves like the stars but we sure love to fake it!

just dance disney logo

We have had so much fun with this- and the kids are kind of excited to have some of their pals over when it’s vacation time to see what they think, too.  I see many many hours of dance time coming our way!

just dance disney party jessie screenshot

This is one of the *few* video games that I believe truly is for the whole family– any age.  If you aren’t into the pop/modern music, there’s always Disney classics, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone that isn’t a fan of at least one song in the game!  Family get togethers will never be the same!  I was really excited to find that there’s stuff on here from Mary Poppins.  It’s one of my all time most favorite movies and makes me so happy when I see or hear anything relating to it!

One thing I like the most about the XBOX Kinect games- you have to get up and MOVE.  This is not a game to sit on your keester and be a couch potato.  You are moving and shaking and if you are an adult, probably sweating- it’s a great workout that includes the kids, and you’ll laugh and sing right along with it.  It’s fitness and it’s FUN.  Have you played?

You can get your own copy of Just Dance Disney at Amazon.com or ToysRUs.com

 

Fellowes Powershred 63CB

Any last minute Christmas shoppers out there???? I personally shop for my husband last. Is it just me, or are men impossible to buy for???? I have a great gift idea for any man (or woman) in your life. A paper shredder. That’s right, a paper shredder! My guy was SO excited to try out his new Powershred 64CB. You would have thought he just won a trip to Disney World! This great little unit is manufactured by Fellowes, a leader in quality office products. Ok, I’ll admit that he MAY have been excited because I told him that I would take over all responsibility for the bills if he got everything organized and filed. We have 7 years of paperwork and bills that need to be organized and shredded. That’s a LOT of paper! This paper shredder has taken what seemed to be an impossible chore and really simplified the process.

Fellowes 63cb Shredder

We have been really pleased with how this power shredder performs. You can feed 10 papers into the shredder at one time and we have had no problems with

jamming. The basket does get filled quickly, but we just keep a large garbage bag nearby to empty the basket into frequently. Once we are all caught up and are shredding documents on a regular basis, I don’t anticipate the capacity to be a problem. You can shred for 8 minutes before a 20 minute cool down is initiated. This

has not been a problem for us. In an 8 minute period of time, and feeding 10 papers into the shredder at once, we can shred a LOT of papers! The safety features on the unit are great as well. The machine will stop shredding if hands touch the opening. This certainly give me peace of mind with little ones in the house.

Fellowes 63cb Shredder #Smartgiftsforguys

Product Features

  • Jam Blocker blocks jams before they start
  • Patented Safe Sense Technology stops shredding when hands touch the paper opening
  • Energy Savings System provides optimal energy efficiency 100% of the time – in use and out of use Shreds for up to 8 minutes before a 20 minute cool down period is needed
  • Features a 5 gallon pull-out bin and is 18.13-Inch x 15.19-Inch x 10.88-Inch

I highly recommend owning a shredder, and the Powershred 63cb is a great one for personal home use. It is compact in size, fairly quiet and does a nice efficient job of shredding documents. There is no worry about throwing away documents with important information on them and I can keep all of my files need and organized without all sorts of extra, useless paperwork in the way. The 63Cb is available at www.Amazon.com (actually on sale for $124.99 12/12/12), www.OfficeDepot.com and www.OfficeMax.com for a suggested retail price of $149.99 I have a Board on Pinterest I started with some ideas for the guys in our lives- feel free to add suggestions! I received product from Fellowes, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in this program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.”

Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth for XBOX is AWESOME #CleverAvengers

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps

marvel avengers battle for earthI am NOT one for action games.  Give me a cute little game to play and I’m happy.  Seriously.  The kids’ games are my cup of tea.  It’s kind of the same with movies.  Or word games. I love those. But when The Avengers came out last spring…I insisted we not only get a (rare occasion) babysitter but dragged my husband to see the movie at the theater (even more rare).  So I suppose it didn’t really surprise me that when the Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth game was released by Ubisoft that I’d be very interested in playing it.

I don’t know why but I love the Avengers.  Perhaps it’s the old school way of thinking, about good vs. evil and the superheros saving the world.  Maybe it’s how the uniforms fit.  Maybe both.  Maybe I’m a closet action-movie lover. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s kind of been a blast to play this game with my husband– a totally new way for us to spend time together, stress free. I like it.  I can’t say I play video games all of the time, but I love this one.  Cool animation, great graphics, superb quality, and oh so much action.

marvel avengers battle for earth box art

When you start this game, you have to choose between the 20 characters available.  One of the best things about this game is that it isn’t “just” the Avengers from recent times- it’s lots of Avengers.  It’s like old school comic book Avenger characters, and you team up with other players to battle the Skrulls.  Choosing which Avenger is the tough thing- I usually try to go with Thor because, well, it’s fun to hit things with a giant hammer (although doing it without actually USING a hammer isn’t *quite* the same).  But I think I’ll be checking out some of the others as well.  Especially Hulk.  He’s my all time favorite super hero. Hulk SMASH!

marvel avengers battle for earth

This is a battle game, and one that we’re not having the kids play (yet) because at 7, 5 and 3 they are simply too little for it.  It’s a Teen rated game and I think that rating is spot on. In my book, it’s ok for the parents to have stuff of their own.  Mommy loves Avengers.  It’s ok.  Mommy doesn’t always  have to share, right?

If you like the Avengers, you’re going to love this game.  And, even if you don’t, you may like it anyway.  It’s fun and it’s Kinect so it’s getting you moving.  That’s never a bad thing.  Movement=good. Couch potato= not so good.

Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth is available at Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and other retailers.

What are your favorite Kinect games?  Do you play Avengers?