Monday, December 20, 2010

The Best Gift Ever: SWAGG Post

SWAGG is a free mobile app (download here) that lets you shop smarter using your mobile phone. Buy, send or swap SWAGG GIFTS and organize your old school plastic gift cards.
For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) , up to $125,000.
Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG are sending a pair of movie fans to the Sundance Film Festival! Download the SWAGG app and then visit the Ultimate SWAGG Getaway Sweepstakes site to enter to win a trip for two to the Sundance Film Festival. Entry deadline is January 3, 2011, 11:59pm, PST.

The best gift I ever gave was one I didn't even know I was giving!

Just after we were engaged, my then boyfriend gave me a beautiful (and expensive) silk scarf for my birthday It was flowered and lovely and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It made me feel like a million bucks.

The day before Christmas I was shopping with some friends, one of whom is a notorius prankster. I know this about her and I love her anyway, even though I'm not a huge fan of practical jokes.

My friends and I have a tradition of getting together on the day after Christmas and exchanging little presents, nothing major and I showed up with my bags of lotion and good smelling things for all my girlfriends. We took turns opening gifts and squealing over the things that we got until it came time for the last presentation.

One of my girlfriends took her time unwrapping the last gift which was carefully wrapped in a small box. She peeked inside and slowly lifted the lid then she pulled out ... my scarf!

She was oohing and aahing about it. How pretty! How thoughtful! How she couldn't believe I would give her such a thing! I was stunned. Then confused. Then stunned again. Rapidly my mind was running. Wasn't that mine? Wait, where was mine? Is that mine? Why does she think I'm giving it to her? Then I saw my friends snicker, then laugh, then belly laugh, then howl with laughter.

That's mine! I exclaimed. I snatched it from her hands to look at the tag. It was mine. My sneaky friend has slipped it away from me the day before, then wrapped it up and gave it to my other friend (who was in on it) under false pretenses -- just to see the look on my face. Which apparently was very, very funny.

So yes, I was mad for a minute, but then I gave in and laughed along with them. To this day they still bring it up and yuck it up about how funny that was and what a great night we had. It's true. I love my friends and I love that I was able to give them a belly laugh, even if it was at my expense. That's the stuff that real friendship is made of.

Hoping your Holiday is filled with much love & laughter!

Learn more about the coolest new app that revolutionizes the whole shopping, gifting, and gift card-organizing experience and Download the SWAGG app to your iPhone or Droid. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective , which endorses Blog With Integrity.

Laughing makes you feel great, and so can this: SWAGG has partnered with non-profit Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to SU2C up to $125,000. Awesome, right?! Visit the SU2C site for more info

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mickey Mote & DVD Playset: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny

What is a Mickey Mote? I'm glad you asked:

The Mickey Mote works with any Disney Preschool DVD that includes the Discovery Mode(tm), which is the interactive "Watch & Play" feature on the DVD! Parent's program the remote control  (there's an easy and quick set-up guide in each DVD) and then select the Discovery Mode feature on the menu screen. Within minutes, kids will be easily responding to questions, throughout the story, about scenes they just watched (such as "What color is Goofy's hat?") by pressing one of four color-coded buttons on the device -- a yellow star, green circle, orange triangle or blue square -- to click in their responses. The Discovery Mode also features two levels of play, which provides more challenging questions as your child grows.

The Mickey Mote is in stores now and comes packaged with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Numbers Roundup DVD. This Disney DVD features more than 100 minutes of content with five numbers-themed adventures and bonus features including a never-before-seen bonus episode (which will air in January 2011) as well as the Discovery Mode feature.

Disney was kind enough to send me the Mickey Mote & Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Numbers Roundup DVD to review and threw in a copy of the Handy Manny Big Construction Job DVD, which is also compatible with the Mickey Mote so my five year old could give it a try.

We liked it for a number of reasons:
  • The Mickey Mote. In our house we're always telling him not to touch the remote so it was fun for him to have one that is JUST HIS.
  • The Numbers Roundup DVD. He's learning all about numbers in his kindergarden class and so this DVD was very timely and entertaining.
  • Handy Manny: Is there any little boy out there who doesn't like trucks?
I like it that Disney came out with the Mickey Mote but also gave parents the option to play these DVDs independent of the Mickey Mote. These DVDs are rated G and you don't need the Mickey Mote to watch them because while questions and challenges are great, sometimes you just want kids to enjoy Mickey Mouse and be entertained. It's nice to be able to do both.

How great is it that your pre-schoolers can watch a DVD and learn math? Maybe if there were DVDs and Mickey Motes like this around when I was a kid I'd be much better at balancing my checking account than I am.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veggie Tales It's a Meaningful Life DVD

My kids love VeggieTales. Without fail, VeggieTales DVDs are family friendly, entertaining, clever and with plenty of catchy music that you will like.

In It's a Meaningful Life, you can see the story of Stewart ( who is really Larry the Cucumber), a silly but sweet man with a wonderful family who constantly plays the what-if game about an old football injury. After meeting a conductor who can turn back the hands of time, will he finally find everything he's been looking for?

Every VeggieTales DVD has a lesson, and this is no exception. I will tell you because it surprised me the first time I watched a VeggieTales movie, there is always a message about God in the stories. I will also tell you that regardless of how you feel about that, the messages are simple and basic and such that you can have a conversation with your child if they have questions about it without any controversy. It's my humble opinion that even though we may not practice religion at the level that some VeggieTales fans might, I'd rather answer questions about God than see violence, sassy talk or characters disrespecting each other.

I'd give this two thumbs up but vegetables don't have thumbs, so two sprouts up I guess, for It's A Meaningful Life. Thanks to Big Idea Inc. for sending me a copy for review. It's in stores now if you want to check it out.

It's true. There's never ever ever ever ever ever been a show like VeggieTales.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Cards: Yes, It's That Time Already!

This morning when I was driving to work I saw that a park near by is gearing up the Holiday lights display. Really? I thought -- but then I realized it's almost November so, yeah, I guess it's time. 
Hooray for Mistletoe!

I've used Shutterfly before for holiday cards. I am usually super frazzled by the time the middle of December rolls around, but I love sending Christmas cards.  I love sharing pictures of my kiddos and we all know that if you don't send Christmas cards you don't get very many back. I think it's so fun to get letters and pictures from family and friends plus don't you love getting mail that is not a bill?

I love the clean & classic look of this one.

Since I don't have a lot of time or money, I look for a few things when picking out Christmas cards:
  1. Shopping that is EASY.
  2. Christmas photo cards and the flexibility to move them photos around to create my own format.
  3. Non-Traditional designs. I don't like to send religious cards and I like modern designs and colors, although I am always tempted by the beautiful blue Hanukkah cards.
This one would work great if I choose to use summer vacation photos this year.

So grab your camera and your family and click away, then head over to Shutterfly to see what you can create.

Do you want 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select Clever 1000 as the referral source.

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown DVD

Every year when It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown shows up, for me, I celebrate the start of the holiday season.

I have such fond memories of getting to stay up late in watch this show in my pajamas -- back in the days when televisions didn't have remote controls and were as big as a car -- and how sad I would be when it was over.

My kids won't have to suffer the same fate because of awesome DVDs like this one: It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown finds the Peanuts gang outfitted in costumes, ready for trick or treating and crashing Violet’s Halloween party. Charlie Brown is in a ghost costume. Lucy dressed as a witch and Snoopy in a World War I flying ace costume. Linus decides to steadfastly hold vigil in the pumpkin patch as he awaits the Great Pumpkin.

There are so many reasons why you want to buy this DVD. You don't have to deal with fast forwarding, or worse yet, sitting through the commercials for all the stuff your kids want but don't need, the quality is outstanding, it's a DVD & Blu-Ray combo, so even if you don't have a Blu-Ray now, you will one day and you'll be so prepared. If that's not enough, this disc comes with a bonus TV special: You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. This episode tells the story of Linus trying to become student body president. Things are going well, until he starts talking about the Great Pumpkin.

You know how there are some DVDs that your kids watch a couple of times and then never get touched again? This is not one of them.

Thanks to Warner Home Video for providing me a copy of this DVD for review and for sparing me all the commercials I won't have to watch this year.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cheerios and The Wild Wild West

Sponsored By

Cheerios® is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, your ultimate family vacation. As part of a paid promotion for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine, Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.

When I was in college, on a whim, on very little sleep and probably about two hours notice, a handful of friends and I piled into a too-small vehicle and hit the open road. I don't remember why we chose to go where we ended up or who was in charge of directions but we took what turned out to be one of the most fun and memorable trips of my life. We left Wisconsin early in the morning and headed West -- a direction I had never traveled before.

We slept on the ground in sleeping bags in Sturgis, South Dakota. I drove through the Badlands and admired the jaw dropping beauty of it all. I shrugged my shoulders at Mount Rushmore (that's it? Isn't it bigger than that? Really?) Got a Wall Drug bumper sticker, shouted to the buffalo who roamed Yellowstone, tied a string to a fence on top of a mountain so high I almost peed myself driving  back down and said the words "We're not from 'round these parts" to a mountain man in a convenience story with a beard down to his knees when I had to ask for directions.

There was more too, wading through freezing cold mountain springs, music, photographs. As clear as some of those memories are in my mind, I'm sure there is much I've forgotten. There were places we didn't get to as well. We wanted to see the cliffs at Mesa Verde and swing by the Grand Canyon but ran out of time.
That's why I can't wait for the day that I can do that again. With my boys - my husband and my sons. I want to recreate that Western trek. I want to see it all again. I want to show it to them. How different this country can be and how amazing. I want to spend hours in the car.  Maybe we'll rent an R.V. I want to wear silly cowboy hats and I want to hike under the sun and I want to see the Grand Canyon this time. From a helicopter. Yeah! I want to stand where I can't see anything but wide open spaces in every direction and I want them to see that too. I want them to be open to a world so much bigger than the small city we live in.
I can't wait for that day. That's what I would do if I could.

Don't forget to enter the “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, for a chance to win your own ultimate family vacation. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity.

As stated above, this post was Sponsored by Cheerios, which I really love, especially the honey-nut variety.

Umi Shoes Back To School GIVEAWAY!

Umi Pilot
Yes, I realize that back to school started a month ago, however, it's taken me an entire month just to catch my breath and get used to new routines for two children, a new school for one, a new classroom for the other, to fill out forms, permission slips, print out the lunch menus and learn how to correctly pronounce the name of the teacher that someone just informed me I've been saying wrong for four weeks (my bad).

Luckily for me, I've got Umi Shoes on my size. I've reviewed Umi shoes multiple times before on The Full Mommy and you can expect to read about them again here because they are my go-to shoes for both of my boys. I don't even have to think about it: They get a pair in the spring and another in the fall. I know the quality is consistent, the styles are hip and fun, they are affordable and I know they will last the entire season. As crazy as back to school month has been for me, Umi helped me tremendously by being there and making it easy to check NEW SHOES off my list. I so appreciate having a brand that can do that for me.

I'd like to do the same for you, because Umi has generously offered a pair of shoes for a lucky Binkytowne reader. If you would like a pair of Umi's for your favorite little feet here's what you need to do:

1) Comment here and make sure you leave your email address!
2) Visit Umi's Facebook page and leave a comment there as well.
3) Think about which shoes you want if you win.

Your choices for the giveaway include:

The Orchid for Girls, in pink or black OR The Tiberius lo in chocolate:

Umi sent me a pair of the Pilot shoes for boys (seen above) and they are perfect. They are casual enough for jeans, but well made enough to look nice with khakis or cords. Of course, my two year old doesn't care about that. He only cares that they feel good and enable him to run fast. They do both.

You can visit the Umi website to see all of the cool options for fall and winter and right now shipping is free with any order of $50.00 or more.

I'll pick a winner on October 15th. One comment per person please and GOOD LUCK!

Thank you to Umi for providing a pair of Pilot shoes:
Full disclosure, I buy 3-4 pairs of Umi shoes every year and I wish they made MaryJanes for adults. 

Disney's Beauty and the Beast DVD & Blu-Ray Diamond Edition

Now that the weather is turning colder I'm always on the look out for DVDs I can bring home for the kids to watch on weekend afternoons. Lucky for me (and you) Disney’s most requested film, Beauty and the Beast, is arriving in stores for the first time in a Blu-ray + DVD Diamond Edition.

Do you remember Beauty and the Beast? I can refresh your memory: It is set in and around a quaint French village during the late 18th century and Beauty and the Beast follows the adventures of Belle (the Beauty) who finds escape from her ordinary life through books and the Beast, who must discover a true love who will return his affection.

This is a timeless tale that has gone on to inspire a Tony nominated Broadway musical, has won Academy Awards, Golden Globes and a couple of Grammys. All of which is fantastic, but the question is will your kids want to watch this? The answer of course, is YES. The movie is charming, full of beautiful music, awesome graphics, humor and characters your kids will fall in love with. On top of that, there are hours of additional viewing experiences that include behind the scenes features, deleted scenes, enhanced music tracks, games and more.

This film is defintely family movie-night worthy. Here's a clip for your viewing pleasure:

I know you are totally singing right now, aren't you? Well, before you go make sure and click over here for a special offer from Disney worth $10.00 of the DVD & Blu-Ray combo pack.

Thanks to Disney for sending me a copy of Beauty and the Beast for review, it was free, but I'm sure I would have bought one anyway.